Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, to “publish details of proposed payments of N729billion to 24.3million poor Nigerians for six months, including the mechanisms and logistics for the payments, list of beneficiaries, and how they have been selected, projected payments per state, and whether the payments will be made in cash or through Bank Verification Numbers or other means.”
SERAP also urged her to “explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five-per cent of the country’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021, and to clarify if this proposed spending is part of the N5.6 trillion budget deficit.”
Umar-Farouk had last week disclosed that the Federal Government would pay about 24.3 million poor Nigerians, N5,000 each for a period of six months to “provide help to those impoverished by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In the Freedom of Information request dated January 23 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “Publishing the details of beneficiaries and selection criteria, as well as the payment plan for six months would promote transparency and accountability, and remove the risks of mismanagement and diversion of public funds.
“Transparency and accountability in the programme would improve public trust, and allow Nigerians to track and monitor its implementation, and to assess if the programme is justified, as well as to hold authorities to account in cases of diversion, mismanagement and corruption.”
SERAP also urged Ms Umar-Farouk to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor the payments.
“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.”