Following the discovery of government storehouses for COVID19 palliatives and the looting spree of these food and material resources across the country, leading social accountability initiative, Follow The Money, has called for the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCCC) to investigate Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) responsible for the acquisition and distribution of COVID-19 palliative relief materials.
It should be recalled that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic early this year, the Follow The Money team across the 36 States has been tracking intervention funds and materials disbursed to State Governments to cushion the impact of the pandemic. A total of 57 Freedom of Information letters were received by 27 State Government agencies, requesting details of COVID19 funds and the distribution of palliatives— only 6 States responded, assuring that palliatives were distributed accordingly, even though they refused to provide details of distribution and evidence of the same.
According to Follow The Money Founder, Hamzat Lawal, the discovery of palliatives hideouts further indicates a systemic failure in governance and a distrust in leadership. There is no reason why the distribution of these items should have been delayed—knowing that the coronavirus pandemic worsened the country’s economic situation and increased poverty level. This discovery further exposes the rot and persistent corruption in the Nigerian system.
The Nigerian government continues to thwart the possibility of gaining the trust of its citizens, especially with its opacity and poor accountability, which has now materialised in a mob action and heavy looting of COVID19 palliatives.
There is an urgent need for the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to prioritise addressing the lapses identified—from operational mistakes to gross mismanagement of logistics, leading to the mob action of palliatives looting. The EFCC and the ICPC must thoroughly investigate procurement fraud and mishandling of COVID19 related funding and resources and all culprits must be indicted. The National Assembly must also hold public hearings on the Palliatives looting and citizens properly briefed on outcomes. Public officials must be held accountable for the lapses in efficiency- this is the beginning of rethinking governance in Nigeria. Citizens deserve better.
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