The Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) in collaboration with the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARD-C) have deployed 1,000 monitors across nine states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja to monitor the processes and impact of the various palliatives across the country.
The action comes amid widespread allegations and criticism that disbursement of palliatives are not transparent and laced with corruption and favouritism.
As of last week, funds raised stood at 25.8 billion apart from the N21billion European Union (EU) support and donations material for China.
In a joint statement in Lagos, HEDA Chairman Mr Olanrewaju Suraju and his WARD-C counterpart, Dr Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, lamented the several misleading information trailing the disbursement of the funds and vowed to fill the information gap as well as monitor and evaluate loose ends with a view to engaging critical stakeholders on the outcomes.
“The continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria has informed several political, economic, social and corporate actions including the lockdown of some states and changes in Nigeria’s political-economy to reflect new realities. This has been followed by funds being disbursed to meet public needs. It is important that Nigerians ensure the funds meet the target audience.
“Citizens have had to resort to rumours, hearsays, fake news and unofficial sources for information on the relief packages and governments’ spending. Also, videos confirming reported anomalies in the distribution of relief materials and economic packages are all over the social media. Our objective is not all about pointing accusing fingers after the deed has been done, but to assist the people and the government alike in identifying red flags or opportunity for corruption in the process; and in cases where the funds are already diverted or mismanaged by corrupt elements in government, ensure that the looted public funds are recovered and perpetrators adequately prosecuted. This is why we are not just evaluating the impact, we are equally monitoring implementation through the tools that will be administered by the volunteers”, they said.
According to the groups, the volunteers, which include health workers and People Living With Disabilities, (PLWD) as well as media practitioners will cover selected states of Ogun, Enugu, Osun, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Lagos, Borno, Kano and Kaduna States as well as Abuja, even as its report will be made public at the end of the exercise.
The volunteers will produce a comprehensive report covering strategic areas using jointly developed questionnaire tools designed to meet global best practices.
They said the palliatives should be strictly monitored because women and PLWDs are most affected by the lockdown imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic “and any corruption in the process or failure to provide the expected relief and welfare packages will spell doom for many women and other vulnerable groups.”
They said, “Now that most people across the country have to stay at home, women and vulnerable groups bear even higher burden of providing household care in a predominantly Nigerian patriarchal system especially in the context of limited resources due to the current COVID-19 situation. Without an effective intervention and relief packages, women will bear the most brunt. This is why we must pull resources together to ensure that the palliatives and intervention funds are monitored, evaluated and stakeholders are effectively engaged. Many Nigerians have faced untoward hardship since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly since government started to restrict movement and lockdown States. Yet, reports from the field also indicate that despite the huge donations and support to government, many deserving and indigent Nigerians are yet to receive any real relief or support. It would then amount to great injustice to keep people in the dark or fail to publicly account for the spending, particularly in a country where corruption remains rife,” they said.