Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has appealed to Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila to redirect the N37 billion meant for the renovation of the National Assembly complex to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to assist them supply relief materials to the poor and most vulnerable and fight COVID-19.
In the letter dated 11 April and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation demanded that the National Assembly donate N1 billion to each of the states and the FCT out of the N37 billion.
“We applaud the patriotic steps and voluntary contributions already made by the National Assembly towards fighting COVID-19 in the country. We now urge you to make major strides to national efforts to deal with one of the greatest threats facing the country by immediately redirecting the N37 billion to provide direct and tangible benefits to the poorest and most vulnerable people among us. We are concerned that the prevailing situation has taken its toll on the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people who continue to endure the grimmest of conditions in several states and the FCT.
“We also urge you to immediately advise President Muhammadu Buhari and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to urgently implement your commitment to redirect the N37 billion to provide direct and tangible benefits and reliefs to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”
“The money must be spent now to serve the public good. Spending the N37 billion as proposed would increase the ability of states and FCT authorities to provide COVID-19 reliefs and benefits. It would not cause any budget deficit. But assuming it does, it would be a good deficit, as it would serve the public good.”
“Going ahead to spend N37 billion to renovate the National Assembly complex even when COVID-19 is over would further undermine the social contract in Nigeria, and hurt the poorest and most vulnerable people across the 36 states and FCT, as it would limit the ability of the authorities to provide much needed benefits and support to these Nigerians, and undermine efforts to reduce the impact of the disease on the country.”