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CSO tasks govts on transparent disbursement of COVID-19 funds

The founder of Follow the Money, a civil society organization, Hamzat Lawal, has urged the federal and state governments to ensure transparency in the disbursement of COVID-19 donations by corporate and individual donors nationwide.

Giving the advice in a television chat on Wednesday, the civil activist noted that lack of transparency and accountability from government may defeat the purpose of the financial and other supports by corporate entities and individuals in the fight against the pandemic.

Lawal advised the federal and state ministries of finance to properly record the amounts donated and how the donations were spent and by so doing, keep the public properly informed about the figures in order to promote transparency and accountability in the disbursements.

On how the donations should be tracked, disbursed and monitoring the execution process, Lawal, who is also the chief executive officer at connected development (CODE) said, so far, his organization had calculated over N40 billion in terms of donations and interventions.

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He said: “Nigeria is lacking digital transparency and accountability database where someone can find revenue, expenditures, deficits or debt. People are eager to know how much has been donated and how much has been disbursed and to whom. This is what can be found on the UK and USA government’s website, so, why not here?”

“Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. Over 80 million people live below N360 per day. With the lockdown, many can’t fend for themselves. Some people survive on their daily income and are not covered under any salary scheme. A lot of people will suffer and lots more will go to bed hungry. This can be attributed to lack of coordination, transparency from the government”, the civil activist added. He insisted that the government should take a cue from organisations that made their donation public in a bid to ensure transparency, adding that Nigerians need information on how the mobilised money given to States and Government agencies such as Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) will be utilised.

“We need to ensure due diligence and cost effectiveness,” he stated.

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