NGO Advocates Improved Accountability On COVID-19 Intervention Funds

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Connected Development (CODE), has called on Akwa Ibom government to strengthen accountability measures for the utilization of COVID-19 resources to ensure the impact of the pandemic is reduced to the barest minimum in the state.

 The call was made by the Organisation's chief executive, Hamzat Lawal, during a courtesy visit on the commissioner for information and strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong, and the member representing Abak State Constituency, Elder Udeme Otong, in their offices recently respectively. 

Lawal, who was represented by CODE's project manager, Dr Onyekachi Onouha, said, "There is no gainsaying that the adoption and implementation of the standards set by the OGP, SFTAS and emergency procurement guidelines would enhance transparency and accountability at governments at all levels. 

He affirms the organisation's commitment to stand in the gap to protect human rights and advance social justice and accountability for those living on the fringes of society, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. 

 According to him, "the fullscale impact of COVID-19 pandemic is getting clearer and so is the urgent need for strategic civic engagement in the response; particularly in highly populated countries like Nigeria, where public healthcare systems capable of curtailing the debilitating impact of COVID-19 remains abysmal as the spread of the virus becomes inevitable. 

He noted that, "since the first detection, there has been a spate of donations and interventions amassing millions of dollars to tackle the pandemic threatening the Nigerian healthcare system and other aspects of the nation's wellbeing, adding, It has become expedient to demand accountable spending of the money to block financial leakages, ensure funds do not end up in personal pockets. 

 While advocating for an improved healthcare system in the country, Lawal posited that CODE with support from Oxfam in Nigeria, through "The Improving Follow COVID-19 money Project, seeks to galvanise action through multidimensional engagement and mobilization towards improving transparency measures and closing the Citizens - Government feedback gap, needed to rebuild citizens' trust in government's interventions and institutions in the state. 

 He explained, "Connected Development, is collaborating with community-based organisations, State Media Organizations, the Civil Society Organisations and other accountability groups in Akwa Ibom State to support civic advocacy, and strengthen policy, institutional, and other frameworks for accountability of COVID interventions. 

 The visit, which was the first in a series of advocacy visits and activities mapped out for six (6) project states, began in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, with a courtesy call on the commissioner of information and strategy, Comrade Ini Ememobong Esq, who highlighted the major problems of citizens' lack of adherence and responsiveness to COVID-19 guidelines. 

 While giving an analysis of the realities and economic implications and impact of the necessitated lock-down on citizens, Ememobong pointed out the increasing demand for additional support to manage the second wave of spread in the state. 

 The member representing Abak State Constituency, Elder Udeme Otong, who doubles as the chairman House Committee on Health, commented on the role of legislators in providing laws, appropriations and oversight of expenditures of funds by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) mandated with the responsibility of coordinating COVID-19 response. 

 Otong assured the team of the commitment of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly to ensure government channels more resources to primary health centers in rural communities. 

 CODE is a non-governmental organization, whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa.

 Its initiative, "Follow The Money, advocates and tracks government and international aid spending in health, WASH, and education across grassroots and communities to promote and ensure open government and service delivery.

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