Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the federal government (FG) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to provide spending details of public funds and private sector donations to the country’s poor and most vulnerable people, including details of beneficiaries of any cash payments, cash transfers, food distribution during the COVID-19 lockdown in Abuja; Lagos and Ogun states.
SERAP is also asking the FG and CBN to disclose information on the details of implementation of the school feeding programme during the lockdown and closure of schools in several states where the programme is being implemented. This includes the number of children that have so far benefited from the programme and the names of the communities since the lockdown and closure of schools, as well as the number of cooks engaged.
In two Freedom of Information (FoI) requests sent to Sadia Umar-Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, and Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, SERAP said: “We are seriously concerned that millions of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people have not benefited from the announced palliatives, donations, reported cash payments, cash transfers and other benefits.”
“Providing socio-economic benefits to the country’s poorest especially at this time of COVID-19 crisis is a matter of human rights, not charity. It is also implicit in Nigerians’ right to freely use their natural wealth and resources, which ought to be spent for the public good. Ensuring that relief funds and donations are used to provide much-needed benefits to beneficiaries is critical to keeping people alive, and addressing vulnerabilities and inequalities in the country.”
The FoI requests dated 4 April 2020 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, further said: “Providing the information would help address the concerns by many Nigerians regarding allegations of corruption and politicisation in the distribution of benefits, improved public trust, and enhance the integrity of the entire processes and modes of distribution of reliefs/benefits to these Nigerians.”
The FoI requests further suggested that: “Rather than making physical cash payments to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people, we urge you to begin electronic cash transfers to all beneficiaries through individuals’ Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs), already available through the banks. This would be cost-effective at this time of crisis; provide immediate and significant benefits.”
SERAP further threatened to go to court should the federal government fail to comply with the demands within 7 days.
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