A consortium of anti-corruption organisations under the Upright For Nigeria, Stand Against Corruption campaign has called on the Federal and State Governments to immediately publish the names of all beneficiaries of government palliatives to ensure transparency in the distribution of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) palliatives.
The consortium which includes ActionAid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development and the Centre for Communication and Social Impact demands inclusion of citizens and members of the civil society in the Federal and State Government Task Force Committees on the implementation of the emergency palliative programmes across the country.
In a statement issued in Abuja and signed by Ene Obi, Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, the consortium lead organisation, the group commended the Federal and State governments for their immediate response to the needs of the citizens and called for more action towards reaching Nigerians who have been hit by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Further appreciating the President’s directive for an increase in the number of beneficiaries on the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) register from 2.5 million to 3.5 million, Ene said there is currently a disconnect and information imbalance between the governments and citizens on the Social Investment Programme (SIP) including the CCT and the COVID-19 emergency relief fund.
The consortium noted that following the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Federal Government was forced to order a lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. However, the consortium warned that the information imbalance between governments and citizens on the CCT which started in 2018 and other palliative measures specifically donated for COVID-19 may lead to corruption.
Ene said: “The CCT is an ongoing government initiative to take care of the poorest of the poor in the country.” We must therefore not confuse the CCT with the COVID-19 palliative funds. The government must ensure that the two are separated and Nigerians know exactly what they are benefiting from.”
She said since February 27, 2020, when the first COVID-19 case came into Nigeria, there have been several donations from governments and corporate bodies towards combating the pandemic and alleviating the sufferings which would be occasioned by a nationwide lockdown. She further commended CSOs complementary efforts in response to the Government’s call to help “We must stand together to fight the pandemic at all levels”.
The consortium demands that all governments must disclose to the citizens the value of money received for the COVID-19 donations and publish the list of beneficiaries of the palliative measures; establish a toll-free line for citizens to call and report any act of corruption regarding the palliative distribution. Government should ensure the law is applied where any official is found to be corrupt in the management of the COVID-19 palliative funds.
Other demands include the inclusion of citizens’ group made up of notable members of communities like traditional or religious leaders and Ward Committees to be part of the committee and task force for implementation.