The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to publish, weekly, exact details of Covid-19 funds and other resources allocated by the authorities and received from the private sector. SERAP demanded that the details of use and planned use of any such funds and resources should also be published weekly.
The call was made in response to the government approving a N10 billion grant to fight the spread of Covid-19 as well as releasing a N5 billion special intervention fund to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). SERAP also noted that commercial banks, other organisations in the private sector, foundations and wealthy individuals have also donated billions of naira to help fund public medical centres and provide the essential material necessary to curtail the spread of Covid-19.
SERAP also asked the government to disclose information on the exact number of high-ranking public officials and politicians who have been tested for Covid-19, the number of any such high-ranking public officials and politicians in self-isolation or quarantine as well as the exact number of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable who have been tested.
In two Freedom of Information requests issued by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, ‘[T]ransparency and openness in the use of funds and operations of the Ministry of Health and NCDC would help to reduce the risk of corruption or opportunism, build trust and engage Nigerians in the fight against coronavirus as well as save lives. Transparency and accountability are important to implementing an effective response to Covid-19 and slowing the spread of the virus in the country’.
Oluwadare also expressed his concern over the lack of water and proper sanitation for vulnerable Nigerians, especially as good hygiene like handwashing is important to combat Covid-19. He said, ‘SERAP would like you to disclose details of measures being put in place by the Ministry of Health, the NCDC and any collaborative work with the Ministry of Water Resources to provide vulnerable Nigerians with safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions’. He stated that government’s failure or refusal to provide the information requested will be inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.
Photo source: Jddodane