A rights organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked the Federal Government to provide information on how it intends to pay N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians within six months.
In a Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated 23rd January, 2021, sent to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, the organization is demanding a breakdown of how the sum of N5,000 each will be paid to 24.3 million poor Nigerians.
The organization said the clarification from the minister, which must be done within a week of the receipt of the FoI request, becomes imperative owing to the fact that the payments translates to five per cent of the country’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021.
In the FoI request, SERAP is seeking clarifications on the mechanisms and logistics for the payments, list of beneficiaries and how they have been selected, projected payments per state and whether the payments will be made in cash or through Bank Verification Numbers or other means. It also want government to clarify if the proposed spending is part of the N5.6 trillion budget deficit.
The organization argued that transparency and accountability in the programme would improve public trust and allow Nigerians to track and monitor its implementation and to assess if the programme is justified, as well as to hold authorities to account in cases of diversion, mismanagement and corruption. It also urged the minister to invite anti-graft agencies to help in tracking and monitoring of the payments.
The FoI request reads: “Providing support and assistance to socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians is a human rights obligation, but the programme to spend fiveper cent of the 2021 budget, which is mostly based on deficit and borrowing, requires anti-corruption safeguards to ensure the payments go directly to the intended beneficiaries and that public funds are not mismanaged or diverted.”