Nigerians demand accountability of donated funds, facilities to fight COVID-19

PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

*Demand to know agency in charge of collection, disbursement of funds
*Call for extension of COVID-19 grants, donations to other States
*Urge Welfare packages to be delivered in houses, streets to curb crowd
*Seek investigation into allegations of NCDC not attending to ordinary Nigerians

Nigerians have reacted to the several funds donated by private sector, individuals and federal government in the fight against COVID-19 (Coronavirus)..

They said there must be accountability of all the funds which have been donated publicly and in secret in order for it not to be embezzled, as they call to know the agency in charge of collection and disbursement of the donated funds for the treatment of the virus.

The former Lagos State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Segun Adewale lamented that several billions of naira have been donated by captains of industries, corporate organisation and individuals to fight the COVID-19, which is yet to be accounted for to Nigerians and how it is spent in containing the virus.

He questioned the ability of the government agencies in charge of handling the COVID-19 situation, as the figures of cases are expected to rise up to 39, 000, as predicted by the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi.

Adewale told The Guardian that President Muhammadu Buhari had announced that a sum of N10 billion grant has been given to Lagos State, being the epicenter of the virus, while N5 billion was allocated to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He added that corporate organisation such as Access Bank, Zenith Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank gave N1 billion each with facilities for isolation center, while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) gave N11 billion.

Other individuals who donated N1billion each, he stressed include, Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Femi Otedola, Abdulsamad Rabiu, Herbert Wigwe, Segun Agbaje, Tim Ovie and Emmanuel Lazarus who gave N2 billion, while Atiku Abubakar gave N50 million and N10 million from Tuface Idibia.

The Former Lagos West Senatorial candidate in the 2015 election, said that there is need for such grants to be accounted for publicly and extended beyond Lagos State, as cases are reported in other States, as part of the efforts to combat the rapid spread of coronavirus in Nigeria

Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Prince Adelaja Adeoye, stressed that, while updates are being given to Nigerians on the efforts so far, it is important that the way and manners the funds donated are used, since they do not require legislative approvals, before spending, should also be made known to the public.

He said: “The public are already asking questions, on where the donations and grants running into several billions are going into. This has therefore, necessitated the need to open a public account, where citizens can access such information.

Adelaja commended the private, corporate organisations, and the Federal Government led by President Buhari, who have been helpful with generous donations and provisions of Isolation centers to Lagos State, while he charged Governor Babajide Sanwoolu to be more accountable for all the supports given and those that will still come.

Meanwhile, A Nigerian, Walter Onyenucheya demanded that the agency in charge of the collection and disbursement of the donated funds should be made public, while they account for the money spent at every point.

“The money donated, which agency is handling it? Have the agency been commissioned? Is it private agency or the government? Have they constituted the agency to be private, public or a mixture of private and public? Who are the members of the agency responsible for receiving the monies donated? How do they disburse the money? What is their approach to the COVID-19 issue as it relates to individual carriers of the virus

“How do they interface with the various isolation centers regarding disbursement of the funds? How much have been received so far, we have been hearing donations made, we want to know how much have been donated. We have been seeing people coming to the public to donate -some to have their names on record, we also have those who donate in the secret, we need transparency and Nigerians should be told how much have been donated so far.

“I believe that this agency should not be government agency, it should cut across government and private sector, who should make up this agency, there should be accountability and they should be held accountable for the funds donated. They should give Nigerians periodic accounts of how much they have spent,” he lamented.

He said the testing units should be responsible for announcing those that test positive to the virus, not individuals announcing their status themselves, which he said has made the situation in Nigeria to be “a child’s play.”

“With high profile individuals coming out to announce they have the virus have made the situation a joke. As it is now, the figures released are not genuine, it is politicise and have a bit of media hype,” he said.

Adelaja said, while the Lagos State plan to give succour and palliatives to residents is commendable, “the governor should not allow those who may want to politicise it, and won’t allow it to get to those who genuinely need them, as that will negate all the good work being done by the governor and his team in their proactive effort to contain COVID-19 due to stay at home order.”

Walter advised Sanwo-Olu to get the local governments to use delivery vans to distribute the welfare packages to residents in their homes or streets, which would help the government to have record of those who have received the food items.

Adelaja further stressed on the report of the National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), in the public that, ordinary Nigerians are not being attended to, which he said should be investigated, “because if not thoroughly investigated, it will underscore the entire efforts of the private individuals, corporate organizations and government, putting resources in place, for the benefit of all Nigerians. If there is problem of manpower shortage, retired health workers can be recalled, to joins hands with those in service, to combat this spread, in addition to other efforts of the government.

“I will advise further that, the best way this scourge can be defeated quickly is to set up Isolation centers, specialized hospitals and provide anti-covid mechanisms in all the States of the Federation, where individuals can easily access without having to move to Abuja or Lagos before they can be tested or treated, Adelaja concluded”.

Walter, however, suggested that ” Government throughout the world should have, at the point of entry, receive travellers and send them down to be quarantine. It should be one person in a room and then watch them, after 14 to 18 days, if the person is found to be free from the virus, he/she would be released to join his/her family.

“That should have been the best system. The world was in a hurry to declare total lockdown. The world thought it was the Chinese virus just like President Donald Trump called it and then ignored it. Nigeria should have adopted this measure instead of hurriedly following the rest of the world.”

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