The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a nonprofit promoting transparency, accountability and social justice in Nigeria, has requested that the N37 billion earmarked for National Assembly renovations be redirected to easing the adverse economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on vulnerable groups.

In a letter to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, SERAP commended the efforts of the legislative arm of government in combatting Covid-19. Signed by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, the letter also stated, ‘Nigeria is at crossroads and the leadership of the National Assembly must now decide whether to continue to look after themselves and do little for the country’s poorest or redirect the N37 billion to help ameliorate the sufferings caused by the lockdown. While some of the authorities’ responses to [Covid-19] across the country may be necessary to stop the spread of the disease and save lives, we are concerned that the prevailing situation has taken its toll on the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, who continue to endure [the] severe conditions [ravaging] the country’.

The letter therefore recommended that the National Assembly work with the President, Muhammadu Buhari, and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to redirect the renovation funds to providing relief for those most vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic. The SERAP letter further stated, ‘Giving the N37 billion to states and FCT will be in the public interest at this time of national crisis, as it would improve the chances of the country’s poorest and vulnerable people to live a life of dignity while obeying government’s stay-at-home directive’.

The organisation finally urged the National Assembly to invite the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and civil society organisations to monitor the spending of the redirected funds, to avoid misappropriation and mismanagement.

Source: The Guardian

Photo source: Temidayo Johnson

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