The Federal Government has disclosed that a total sum of N30,540,563,571.09 was spent within four months to fight the scourge of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The figure represents 84 percent of the N36.3 billon public funds and donations received by government between April 1 and July 31, 2020, leaving a balance of N5.9 billion.
These disclosures were said to have been part of an undated statement from the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, in response to the Freedom of Information request dated August 10, 2020, from two rights organisations; the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Connected Development (CODE).
However, the two groups have expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the Accountant General to their Freedom of Information (FoI) request.
In a statement dated September 4 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare and CODE Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal, the organisations said the documents sent in by the Accountant General do not contain significant details such as a breakdown of the number of Nigerians who directly or indirectly have benefited from the spending, and details on plans to spend the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts as indicated in their FoI request dated August 10, 2020.
They are consequently demanding for more specific details and additional information on the spending of N30.5 billion between April and July, and details on plans to spend the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts.
They asked that the requested information must be supplied within a week failure which they will institute legal action to compel the release of the details.
The statement reads: “We are writing to acknowledge receipt of the undated letter signed on your behalf by Mrs Odanwu Chizoba, from the Office of Accountant General of the Federation, but received 2nd September, 2020, on the above subject-matter in which the Federal Government provided some information on inflows and outflows of COVID-19 funds, drawn from COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts.
“We welcome your demonstrated commitment to transparency and accountability, and hope other public officials and institutions would emulate and learn from the good example you have shown by honouring and respecting FoI Act as a matter of routine and practice.
“Of the N36.3 billion public funds and donations received, N1.4 billion came from Nigerians and companies through accounts at the First Bank; Access Bank; GTB, Zenith, and UBA, while N536 millions donations were made through the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN]. The N536 million donations comprise of N89 million and N279 million from the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.
“In addition, China General Chambers of Commerce in Nigeria donated N48 million; the Petroleum Equalization Management Board gave N50 million while the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board donated N70 million.
“We note among others that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 spent N22 billion; and 36 states spent N7 billion to support their COVID-19 initiatives. We also note that the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) spent N877 million for deployment of assets in support of COVID-19 operations; while the Nigeria Police spent N500 million on personal protective equipment. N17,865.09 was paid as bank charges.
“It is refreshing to note that 115 ordinary Nigerians donated between N1 and N100 to support the authorities’ efforts to fight COVID-19, despite the fact that it is the country’s poorest and most disadvantaged sectors of the population that continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We would therefore be grateful to receive more specific details and additional information on the spending of N30.5 billion between April and July, and details on plans to spend the balance of the balance of N5.9 billion in the COVID-19 Eradication Support Accounts.”