The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, on Sunday, called on the 36 state governors to make available COVID-19 spending details in their state, as well as redirect public funds budgeted for security votes and life pensions for former governors to public healthcare facilities.
This is even as the group urged the 36 governors on the need for access to quality education in their respective states.
In a letter dated April 25, 2020, SERAP through it’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization stated that “Given the rising number of deaths in Kano State reportedly linked to COVID-19, your state and other state governors now 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, provide palliatives and socio-economic reliefs to residents, and meet the expectations of Nigerians.”
The organization noted that it would be a betrayal of constitutional oath of office for Governors to continue to receive security votes, pay life pensions and other needless allowances at a time of public health crisis across the states.
SERAP continued, “Taking these steps will not only help save lives but also help ensure that the necessary institutional reforms in the health and education sectors occur within your state.
“The Kano situation shows the urgent need for all state governors to demonstrate leadership at a time of public health crisis by immediately stopping payment of security votes and life pensions and redirecting the funds to respond to COVID-19, invest in healthcare facilities and access to quality education in your state.
“According to our information, some states such as Kano are waiting for handouts from the Federal Government and are refusing to take any meaningful action to respond to COVID-19, stop the spread of the disease and save lives.
“We are concerned that many state governors are spending scarce state resources to pay themselves security votes and their predecessors life pensions rather than using public funds to invest in public healthcare infrastructure and improve access to quality education in their states.
“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 ask you to provide the requested information within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal action under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.
“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.”
SERAP, therefore, urged the states to disclose among others; details of the coordination, and support, if any, that state is providing to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, to improve its capacity to respond to COVID-19; details of transparency and accountability mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure the funds to respond to COVID-19 are properly spent, and details of the roles state House of Assembly is playing in any response to COVID-19.