Connected Development (CODE), a prominent non-governmental organisation based in Abuja, has kicked off an initiative committed to tracking government funding for projects related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including donations from private individuals and companies.
Tagged “Follow COVID-19 Money”, the initiative was unveiled on Tuesday through a press statement shared with HumAngle.
The NGO hopes to hold the Ministries of Finance and Health as well as the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) accountable through the project.
“Trust in Nigerian public institutions has recently been measured by lack of transparency, poor accountability and poor communication,” it noted, adding that the current health crisis, however, gives the government an opportunity to regain the people’s faith.
CODE has compiled a list of 22 donations totalling up to N44 billion and said the government has so far not shown clarity in how it is collating and disbursing the funds.
“Nigerians must be given comprehensive data of interventions, recipient organisations of this fund and how judiciously they are being expended.
“Where is the breakdown of the 50 percent contribution by the 43 cabinet ministers who pledged half of their March 2020 Salary to support the FG effort to combat the COVID 19 pandemic in the country?” it asked.
“President Muhammadu Buhari had instructed in his COVID-19 speech that ‘all contributions and donations be coordinated and centralized to ensure efficient and impactful spending.’ How is the Presidential Task Force looking to effect this?
“What measures have the Ministry of Health, the NCDC and the Ministry of Finance put in place to collect, aggregate funds and ensure proper utilization? These are pertinent questions that require timely responses. Now is the time for the government ministries to champion a culture of transparency, consistency and high-quality communications.”
It said it will additionally be deploying its existing social accountability platform and community mobilisation strategy to advocate for improved healthcare facilities and empower citizens with tools through which they can drive critical conversations and demand transparency from the government.
“Although we are disturbed that the existing healthcare structure in the nation is not sufficient to combat the pandemic, especially with the prediction that COVID-19 cases in Nigeria may rise to up to 39,000, we are hopeful that the interventions and other non-monetary resources can cushion the gaps and develop Nigeria’s healthcare system,” it concluded.
The new initiative is patterned after Follow The Money, CODE’s advocacy-based initiative that tracks the government’s utilisation of public funds while also advocating for accountability using information technology and a broad network of volunteers.