• Gives seven-day ultimatum to reveal payment plan
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a popular rights group and Non-governmental organisation, has demanded a published details of the supposed payment plan of ₦729 billion to about 24.3 million poor Nigerians for six months, from the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk.
This development was sequel to the announcement the Minister made last week, regarding the intention of the federal government (FG) “to pay about 24.3 million poor Nigerians, ₦5000, for six months, with the aim to cushion the adverse effects of COVID 19 pandemic”.
SERAP is requesting the rationale for payment; which it said translated to about five percent of the country’s budget (₦13.6 trillion) in 2021.
The NGO also requested, among other necessities, the disclosure of the mechanism and logistics for payments, list of beneficiaries, means of payment; whether in cash, or Bank systems.
Deputy director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare signed a statement that said, “Publishing the details of beneficiaries and selection criteria, as well as 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 program would improve public trust, and allow Nigerians to track and monitor its implementation; and access if the program is justified as well as to hold authorities to account in cases of diversion, mismanagement, and corruption.”
SERAP issued the government seven days from the reciept, or publication of the freedom of information (FOI) request, dated Jan 23, 2021, to grant it.
“If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action under the Freedom of Information Act, to compel you to comply with our request.
Nevertheless, SERAP explained that although the provision of support and assisting vulnerable Nigerians, is a human rights obligation; but the five percent of the 2021 national budget involved, requires anticorruption safeguards.
“The government has a responsibility to ensure that these requirements, and other anticorruption controls are carefully implemented and monitored. The payment must be justified in light of the huge budget deficit and borrowing. There are better ways to spend ₦729 billion to support poor Nigerians.”
Ijeoma Njoku reporting, Obinwannem News