With the recent decision by the Nigerian Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs to kickstart the Home Feeding Programme despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the federal government in a bid to ensure transparency.
SERAP requested that details of suppliers, contractors, procurement rules, budget, and voucher distribution and collection sites for the implementation of the programme be published.
The group also requested information on the number of states that will be covered during the pandemic, how much will be spent per state, mechanisms and logistics that will be utilised in carrying out the project, and also the role the World Health Organisation (WHO) will play.
In the FoI request sent to the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar Farouk, SERAP urgently invited the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the implementation of the programme.
Signed by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, the request also read, ‘SERAP notes that the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party requires the government to set the highest standards of transparency, accountability and probity in programmes that it oversees.
‘The government has a responsibility to ensure that these requirements and other anticorruption controls are fully implemented and monitored, and to ensure that the programme benefits the children and families who need it the most.
‘Publishing the details of suppliers and contractors and the procurement rules being implemented for executing the school feeding programme at home would also remove the risks of conflicts of interest and politicisation of the programme, as well as promote transparency and accountability.
‘The information requested for as indicated above, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FoI Act, [borders] on an issue of national interest, public concern, the interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability’.
SERAP is a non-governmental organisation that aims to use human rights law to encourage the government and others to address developmental and human rights challenges such as corruption, poverty, inequality and discrimination.
Photo source: Feed My Starving Children