A total sum of N30,540,563,571.09 was spent within four months to fight the scourge of COVID- 19 pandemic in the country, the Federal Government has disclosed. Figure represents 84 per cent of the N36.3 billon public funds and donations received by government between 1st April, 2020 and 31st July, 2020, leaving a balance of N5.9 billion. Specifically, the PTF spent N22 billion while 36 states spent N7 billion to support the COVID-19 initiatives.
Also, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spent N877 million for deployment of assets in support of COVID- 19 operations while the Nigeria Police spent N500 million on personal protective equipment. Of the amount, N17,865.09 was paid as bank charges.
These disclosures were said to have been part of an undated statement from the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, in response to the Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated August 10, 2020, from two rights organizations: the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Connected Development (CODE).
However, the two groups have expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the Accountant General to their FoI request. In a statement issued yesterday by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, and CODE’s Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, the organizations said the documents sent in by the Accountant General does not contain significant details such as a breakdown of the number of Nigerians who directly or indirectly have benefited from the spending and details on plans to spend the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID- 19 Eradication Support Accounts as indicated in their FoI request dated 10th August.
They are consequently demanding a more specific details and additional information on the spending of N30.5 billion between April and July, and details on plans to spend the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts. They asked that the requested information must be supplied within a week, failure which they will institute legal action to compel the release of the details.
The statement reads: “We note among others that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 spent N22 billion; and 36 states spent N7 billion to support their COVID-19 initiatives. We also note that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spent N877 million for deployment of assets in support of COVID- 19 operations; while the Nigeria Police spent N500 million on personal protective equipment. N17,865.09 was paid as bank charges.
“It is refreshing to note that 115 ordinary Nigerians donated between N1 and N100 to support the authorities’ efforts to fight COVID- 19, despite the fact that it is the country’s poorest and most disadvantaged sectors of the population that continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We would, therefore, be grateful to receive more specific details and additional information on the spending of N30.5 billion between April and July, and details on plans to spend the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts.
“Specifically, we are asking Mr. Idris to provide us with the following: “Details and breakdown of where the N30.5 billion public funds from the Federal Government came from, and whether or not the money was duly appropriated by the National Assembly; “Details of specific projects and activities on which the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has spent the N22.16 billion, which represents 72 per cent of the money spent, including how the spending has directly or indirectly benefited Nigerians, as well as details of names of any such beneficiaries;
“Details and breakdown of money, if any, spent to provide personal protective equipment to Nigerian doctors and medical workers who are at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19; “Details and breakdown of the N7 billion given to 36 states, and the specific amount of money collected by each state.
This money represents 23 per cent of the total amount spent within four months; “Details and breakdown of the N877 million (2.9 per cent of the money) spent by the Nigerian Air Force for deployment of assets in support of COVID-19 operations, as well as the nature of any such operations; “Details and breakdown of the N500 million (1.6 per cent of the money) spent by the Nigeria Police on personal protective equipment; “We would be grateful if the requested details and additional information are provided to us within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.
If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP and CODE shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to compel you to comply with our request.”