Anti-graft teams such because the Socio-Financial Propers and Accountability Mission (SERAP) are selling accountability and rule of legislation in Nigeria’s COVID-19 administration via rights advocacy, writes ROBERT EGBE
The physician mentioned Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti had a bacterial an infection. However the medicine/injections that adopted her prognosis didn’t cease the complications and physique pains.
Days later, she may barely speak; it felt like there have been security pins in her throat and that the interior a part of her neck was stitched collectively.
The second Managing Accomplice at AGS Tribe Youth Advisor mentioned that was when a physician suggested her to get examined for COVID-19.
“She gave me a quantity to one of many centres on the (Lagos) Island. I known as them, until date, they didn’t get again to me,” she mentioned in a put up final Wednesday on her LinkedIn web page.
Durosinmi-Etti needed to do a Fast Antigen take a look at and it got here again optimistic. Fortunately, she overcame the problem and is now COVID-19-free.
Donations pour in
Like Durosinmi-Etti, many Nigerians are going through the problem of entry to authorities testing for the novel coronavirus.
Some Nigerians’ incapacity to get examined or to get outcomes on time is commonly a consequence of the nation’s low testing capability for COVID-19, at present solely 2,500 samples a day.
So, weeks after Nigeria introduced its COVID-19 index case on February 27, the European Union (EU) introduced a $54million donation to assist Nigeria’s administration of the pandemic, together with to spice up testing capability.
The EU’s gesture was adopted by a United Nations (UN) donation of 50 ventilators and private protecting tools valued at $2m to the federal government.
The German authorities donated €26m; the USA (US) authorities, via the USA Company for Worldwide Growth (USAID), weighed in with “new funding for Nigeria for prevention and mitigation of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), that has reached $21.4m”; whereas the Chinese language Chamber of Commerce introduced a donation of N48million.
Nigeria’s non-public sector additionally raised an estimated N27billion as of June, whereas the federal government lately introduced plans to withdraw $150million from the Sovereign Wealth Fund to combat the virus, which as of now has contaminated over 20,000 individuals and claimed about 500 lives.
However not everybody in Nigeria is going through testing challenges. There have been a number of experiences of presidency officers, politically uncovered individual and celebrities getting examined or receiving their outcomes quicker than the common, amongst different issues about transparency in how states are spending the funds.
It’s these allegations, amongst many others, that the Socio-Financial Rights and Accountability Mission (SERAP) has been attempting to make clear.
Final April 29, it requested the Federal Authorities to reveal info on the precise variety of checks finished for high-ranking public officers and politicians, the variety of any such high-ranking public officers and politicians in self-isolation or quarantine, in addition to the precise variety of checks for the nation’s poorest and most weak individuals.
It additionally demanded “weekly particulars of tangible funds and different sources allotted by the authorities and acquired from the non-public sector, in addition to particulars of use and deliberate use of any such funds and sources to fight the unfold of coronavirus (or COVID-19) in Nigeria.”
It defined why in two Freedom of Info (FoI) requests despatched to Minister of Well being Dr Osagie Ehanire and NCDC DG Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director Basic, Nigeria Centre for Illness Management (NCDC).
SERAP mentioned: “We’re involved in regards to the lack of transparency in the usage of the funds and sources being mobilised to fight coronavirus, amid issues accessing the NCDC’s web site, and experiences that authorities are prioritising house testing of politicians, with some reportedly taking a number of checks.”
Based on SERAP, politicians appeared to be partaking in a number of checks for coronavirus. It mentioned this had, “in flip slowed the variety of checks for the nation’s poorest and most weak individuals.”
SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, had additionally raised transparency issues a few month earlier in a March 27 FoI request.
“We’re involved that lack of transparency in the usage of the funds and sources to fight COVID-19 would result in diversion or mismanagement of sources, unnecessarily value lives, and lead to severe injury to public well being within the nation.
“We urge you to reveal the extent of enforcement for house quarantine system for high-ranking public officers, politicians and the rich, and whether or not the Ministry of Well being and NCDC are finishing up spot checks to make sure strict compliance by these individuals.”
Demand for redirection of safety votes, life pensions to fund healthcare
SERAP’s has additionally been maintaining governments on its toes via different calls for.
Final April 25, it despatched Freedom of Info (FoI) requests to the 36 state governors urging them to “urgently present info on spending particulars on COVID-19 in your state, and to right away redirect public funds budgeted for safety votes and life pensions for former governors from the state to put money into and enhance public healthcare amenities and entry to high quality schooling.”
The request was necessary, as a result of safety votes have been largely recognised as a conduit pipe for corruption.
Oluwadare, who signed the letter, mentioned: “Redirecting safety votes and life pension funds to put money into public healthcare amenities and entry to high quality schooling in your state would enhance your potential to answer COVID-19, present palliatives and socio-economic reliefs to residents, and meet the expectations of Nigerians.”
It additional expressed concern that many state governors have been spending scarce state sources to pay themselves safety votes and their predecessors life pensions moderately than utilizing public funds to put money into public healthcare infrastructure and enhance entry to high quality schooling of their states.”
Combat for improved healthcare budgets
Final April 18, the anti-graft group gave “the Federal Authorities and the Nationwide Meeting 14 days to reverse the proposed unlawful minimize of N26.51 billion in fundamental healthcare funds and to chop the Nationwide Meeting and Presidency budgets as an alternative, or face authorized motion.”
SERAP additionally demanded that they “reverse the proposed unlawful minimize of N50.76 billion within the schooling funds. There’s at present no proposal to chop the Nationwide Meeting and Presidency budgets.”
That’s not all. It has additionally filed fits in opposition to the Rivers State Authorities and the Federal Authorities following rights abuses by safety businesses within the wake of lockdowns imposed to handle the pandemic.
Authorized foundation for SERAP’s intervention
The not-for-profit’s interventions have a sound authorized foundation below the Freedom of Info (FoI) Act 2011and the African Constitution on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has turn out to be a part of Nigerian legal guidelines.
Part 1(1) of the FoI Act, authorises organisations akin to SERAP to request for or achieve entry to info, together with info on the precise quantity of funds and sources meant to fight the unfold of coronavirus in Nigeria.
Sections 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the Act, imposes a binding authorized responsibility to make sure that paperwork containing info referring to the spending and operations to fight the unfold of coronavirus in Nigeria are extensively disseminated and made available to members of the general public via varied means.”
Are the interventions working?
Whether or not due to SERAP and different rights teams’ interventions or not, governments at Federal and State ranges now present better openness in COVID-19 administration.
For example, the Federal Authorities is now publishing spending particulars of its COVID-19 funds. Particulars will be discovered at www.opentreasury.gov.ng