Kano LEADS, HEDA commend OAGF guidelines on COVID-19 funds
.. funds to be targeted for ease of application, tracking
by OUR REPORTER
Kano born Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmad Idris has been commended for announcing strict guidelines for spending of funds meant for battling the CORONAVIRUS pandemic.
Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) made the commendation at the weekend, saying the new guidelines from the office of the accountant general of the federation (OAGF) should checkmate corruption in disbursement of the COVID19 funds.
This commendation was also echoed by Kano Leadership Enlightenment and Advocacy for Development Initiative (Kano LEADS #DaRUWANA), stating that “AGF Ahmad Idris had proved yet again his sterling qualities promoting the global best practises expected of the Buhari administration even in the face of the COVID19 pandemic”.
Barrister Aisha Dankani MFR mni, Convener, Kano LEADS said the disbursement guidelines clearly appreciate the consistent advocacy of the Kano peoples NGO that “we need a focused handling if we are to solve the problems posed by COVID19. That is the substance of our well received national press conference held a week ago in Abuja over the pandemic and its handling in Kano by the Federal Government”.
The Kano LEADS press conference had also drawn attention to and demanded “provision of adequate palliatives from the federal, state and philanthropic individuals for the over 10 million poor people in Kano.
It had kicked against “ the proposed use of the BVN by the federal government” as it “would sideline our local population that don’t have bank accounts.
The Kano people’s NGO had called for a “clear accountability framework involving local community and opinion leaders” to “be incorporated in the management and distribution of palliatives”.
These guidelines issued by Accountant General of the Federation Ahmad Idris should make it easy for funds to be tracked such that any claims of application would be verified, according to Kano LEADS Convener Barr. Aisha Dankani.
On its part the Human Development Agenda non-governmental organisation (NGO) had expressed delight that the Office of Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) has come up with the guidelines following ceaseless advocacy led by HEDA that the administrators of the funds should ensure transparency and openness.
HEDA further called for the involvement of anti-corruption agencies in the monitoring and evaluation of compliance with global best (anti-corruption) practices.
Last week, the OAGF had announced that disbursements will only be made after appropriation by the National Assembly.
It had also stipulated that all accounts be linked to the Treasury Single Account, (TSA).
‘We are delighted about the new guideline. This will help promote accountability and due process. At this critical moment, the best the country can do is to prevent the virus of corruption to eat into the funds.
“It is important that the funds are utilized in the most prudent manner for the sake of beneficiaries and to ensure Nigeria effectively brings an end to the spread of the pandemic”, HEDA said in a statement signed by its Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju.
He said the OAGF effort will not be complete without the involvement of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The HEDA Chairman said civil society groups will continue to monitor and evaluate compliance with the OAGF directives.
“We are going to monitor and evaluate the entire process from design, conception and implementation of projects associated with the funds.
“We are interested to see due process employed in the entire process”, HEDA said.
He described COVID-19 as a pandemic that even after its exit will leave behind several scars on the economy and wealth of individuals, communities and nations adding that only a judicious management of all related funds will assist Nigeria to deal with all short and long term consequences of the pandemic.
Reports have it that HEDA is one of the civil society groups that have persisted a barrage of local and international campaigns calling for transparency in the management of the COVID-19 funds.
The group also wrote to the CBN invoking the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) compelling the apex bank to ensure full disclosure.
Failure to publish timely reports of COVID-19 activities in the prescribed format and at the stipulated intervals or to respond to FOI requests will constitute early warning signs of mismanagement and shall be deemed as a contravention of the guideline, the OAGF guideline said.
Under the OAGF issued COVID19 disbursement guidelines, “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 agency like the Presidential Task Force (PTF), while administrative cost of the PTF shall be appropriated separately to the PTF Secretariat,” the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation had said.
The funds cover donations by the Federal Government, the N28 billion from the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) and other funds domiciled in Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, United Bank for Africa and First Bank.
Under the new guidelines, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning is to oversee the management of the funds on behalf of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, (MDAs) who must within seven days provide all relevant information about the funds including their sources.