By Angela Atabo
A Civil Society Organisation (CSO), Connected Development (CODE) on Tuesday commended Kaduna, Kwara, Osun and Oyo governments for providing information on COVID-19 expenditure through the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act.
Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive Officer, CODE and founder of Follow the Money made this known at CODE’s mega townhall meeting in Abuja.
Lawal said that CODE through its Follow the Money project held the meeting to provide an opportunity for government, CSOs and the media to get information on how the government utilised COVID-19 resources.
He said that the aim was also to know how palliatives were provided to cushion the effect of the pandemic and how government managed resources to ensure physical accountability and transparency.
“It is important to acknowledge some state governments that have provided information that the public will need .
“Kaduna, Kwara, Osun and Oyo states not only provided Follow the Money detailed expenditure but also provided to the public how they are utilising public resources .
“CODE and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project wrote a joint FOI letter to the Accountant-General of the Federation on the expenditure of COVID -19.
“In their response, they acknowledged that they mobilised over N35 billion and they have utilised over N30 billion to fight the pandemic,’’ Lawal said.
He said that the two groups wrote a subsequent letter to acknowledge the response and also ask for the breakdown of how they disbursed the money.
Lawal said that so far, CODE’s Follow the Money had tracked N96 billion at the federal and state levels for COVID 19.
He said that Follow the Money would undertake a post -pandemic social audit adding that more than 8,000 of its members across Nigeria would be deployed to undertake the process.
Lawal said this was to get feedback from citizens on how they benefited from the government’s palliative or other intervention to cushion the effect of COVID-19 during the lcokdown.
Maryam Laushi, Communications Officer, OXFAM said that the private sector and other people contributed huge sums of money towards COVID-19 so it was important for Nigerians to know how the money was spent.
“That is why OXFAM in Nigeria is very excited to support CODE in answering this call to ensure that our government is accountable and transparent,’’ Laushi said.