On Thursday May 7, the Lagos State House of Assembly asked the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to account for expenses incurred from donations received in support of the fight against the coronavirus outbreak in the state.
The Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, alongside members of the House, have asked Sanwo-Olu to introduce a co-chairman from the executive arm, to represent the state’s COVID-19 Incident Commander before the House.
According to Obasa, “It is our own duty to do what is right. The law says the executive will come forward to give account on what they have expended,” he said.
Member representing Mushin Constituency II, Olayiwola Abdul-Sobur, maintained that the donations and grants accrued to the state government should be domiciled in the Consolidated Revenue Funds.
They also voiced out that the executive arm of government must be reminded that no money should be withdrawn from any public funds without the authorization of the House.
Earlier, the Chairman House Committee on Health Services, Mr Akeem Shokunle, urged the governor to be mindful that the funds referred to were neither budgeted for nor in the consolidated fund or development fund.
Due to the level of corruption seen in the Nigerian government, some groups such as the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), have demanded details of donations from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In order to ensure a level of transparency, the Accountant-General of the Federation has issued eight guidelines needed for the management of the COVID-19 Funds in Nigeria.
On Tuesday May 5, the government requested that all participating Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must provide information on all COVID-19 fund transactions requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) within seven days of receiving the request.
It also asked that the funds will not be disbursed until after appropriation by the National Assembly. The Minister of Finance was told to promptly liaise with the lawmakers to pass a supplementary budget for the utilisation of the funds based on estimated total collection for the year and it must detail the needs submitted by the affected MDAs together with estimated costs, as the basis for allocation of funds, to enable post expenditure reporting and audit.
More so, funds are to be appropriated directly to participating MDAs and spending units like the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, etc., rather than to an intermediary.
It is mandated that all collections into the commercial bank accounts should be swept into FGN Sub-Recurrent Account with the CBN, as failure will attract sanctions.
As from now, only the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) is permitted to be used in making payment to necessary agencies in accordance with the laws, rules, and regulations, including those relating to the Public Procurement Act (subject to the guidance of the Bureau for Public Procurement).
Another condition is that the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation must publicize on a daily basis, all inflows and outflows for the funds, and the statement must show the source of the outflow.
All MDAs were also urged to publish detailed reports of their activities relating to COVID-19 Funds on their websites at the end of every week, while a Monthly Budget Performance Report shall be published on the Open Treasury Portal not later than 14 days following the end of the month.
The last condition is that two weeks after the end of the pandemic, a comprehensive report of all receipts and payments shall be published on the OAGF Transparency Portal as well as other government websites, including those of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and Secretary to the Government of the Federation and OAGF.
If strictly implemented, this set of guidelines will give room for transparency and accountability in the government, which is something Nigeria lacks and is terribly in need of at the moment.
So far, the country has got about N28 billion under the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Fund, domiciled at the CBN and the five COVID-19 donors in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) sub-accounts domiciled in Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and First Bank.