The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to 36 state governors urging them to provide information on spending details on COVID-19 in their states and to redirect public funds budgeted for security votes and life pensions for former governors into boosting public healthcare infrastructure and education.
A letter dated April 25 by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said it would be a betrayal of constitutional oath of office by the governors to continue to receive security votes, pay life pensions and other needless allowances at a time of public health infrastructure were in crisis.
“Given the rising number of deaths in Kano state reportedly linked to COVID-19, state governors have to show leadership, transparency and accountability if you are to effectively and satisfactorily respond to the COVID-19 crisis, curb the spread of the disease and save lives of Nigerians within your state. Redirecting security votes and life pension funds to invest in public healthcare facilities and access to quality education in your state would improve your ability to respond to COVID-19. We urge you to redirect the funds for security votes and life pensions for former governors to improve access of the poor and most vulnerable people to basic necessities such as running water, which is critical to keep people alive. We also urge you to spend public funds on improving COVID-19 testing facilities within your state, and ensuring availability of ventilators.The funds should also be used to ensure that health workers have the protective equipment they need to do their jobs safely and that isolation facilities in your state have the resources they need to adequately treat and support patients under quarantine,” Oluwadare said.
He said bBy the combined reading of the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has become part of Nigerian laws, there are transparency obligations imposed on all public officials including to disclose information to the public on spending details on COVID-19.
“We urge you to provide information on details of funds so far received from the Federal Government, private donations and other sources, details of how such funds have been spent including to improve testing for COVID-19, provide resources for isolation centres in your state, provide safe protective equipment for health workers, and to provide any palliatives and other socio-economic benefits to the most vulnerable people, as well as details of beneficiaries of any palliatives and reliefs. We are seriously concerned that years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public resources by several state governors have compromised the ability of many states to effectively and satisfactorily respond to COVID-19, curb the spread of the disease, save lives and provide palliatives and reliefs that meet basic human dignity to Nigerians in their states.”