Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Transparency International in Nigeria, have applauded the donations by individuals and indigenous groups to the campaign against COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Musa Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC made the commendation in a statement on Monday in Abuja, while demanding for transparency and accountability from the Federal Government and its Presidential Task Force on the pandemic.
Rafsanjani noted that the donations and contributions would go a long way to contain Coronavirus pandemic and its socio-economic impacts, however, total accountability of the utilisation and distribution of the funds were necessary.
“As we welcome the recent constitution of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 response with specific responsibility to coordinate donations for efficient and impactful spending.
“We are, however surprised that selection and appointment into the committee did not take cognisance of representatives from the media and other credible governmental and non-governmental organisations.
“Especially those working on anti-corruption, transparency and accountability in governance and public financial management.
“In times of global public emergency, proactive measures to ensure judicious utilisation and distribution of these funds are needed more than ever.
“Inclusion of media and other accountability entities in the committee would compel transparency and accountability in the utilisation and dissemination of managed funds.
“So at this critical junction of tackling the pandemic, Nigeria cannot afford mismanagement and misappropriation of public and donated funds,” he said.
Rafsanjani said that diversion or misappropriation of the funds would be tantamount to total betrayal, unpatriotic, unsympathetic and selfishness in the management of the nation’s treasury which are punishable under relevant laws.
He called for strict monitoring with keen interest of various authorities to the commitment of the government efforts towards alleviating the impacts of the lockdown in some states.
The director urged the government, relevant authorities and anti-graft institutions to ensure proper accountability in the utilisation and distribution of the donated funds.
He also said that all distributed funds need to be recorded and pro-actively published so that impartial and objective verification is enabled.
“We call on the civil societies, media and all well-meaning citizens to constructively monitor and report progress as events unfold.
Rafsanjani, however, expressed worries over the governments poor national storage capacity for food and other basic needs to respond adequately.
He said that the lockdown maybe meaningless in Nigeria if Nigerians do not have access to electricity and other provisions of basic amenities.
“Such as sufficient food supplies, access to water and regular power supply to genuinely address the plights and agitations of common citizens, whose daily means of income would be largely affected.
“Any lockdown must take into consideration these underlying infrastructure deficits,” he said. (NAN)