Senate President Warns Against Multiple Platforms For COVID-19 Donations

•As Corporate Nigeria Rakes In N22bn, NNPC US$28m
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Thursday, called for centralized management of all donations to the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Nigeria.
Speaking at a meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, led by its chairman, Boss Mustapha who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), he said it is to ensure greater accountability, rather than the current situation where the funds are kept in multiple platforms.
A statement by Ola Awoniyi, Special Adviser(Media) to President of the Senate, quoted Lawan as saying that as of Wednesday, corporate Nigeria had “gathered N22bn, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), I was told had US$28m, CBN and the banks… I don’t know how much they have.”
The National Assembly, members of the Federal Executive Council, so many individuals and institutions, he continued have also made donations, adding that the central body to receive and manage the fund should not necessarily be the PTF or the corporate groups, but based on what the Constitution provides for.
He advised the Task Force to have better coordination of the donations received from public-spirited individuals, corporate bodies and Institutions to avoid duplications or the relevant bodies working at cross purposes.
“Where everybody is just collecting and spending, I think it will lead us in very bad shape. When people contribute their funds, they want to see such funds properly utilised. They want to see efficiency. They want to see transparency. They want to see accountability and of course, probity in what the funds are used for.
“There could be duplication, working across purposes. At the end of the day, there will certainly be inefficiency in the application of such resources. But this meeting is going to give us the opportunity to discuss this and the way forward,” Lawan said.
The Senate President said this kind of interaction between the National Assembly and any section of the executive arm of government is to ensure good governance.
“We do so to ensure that performance is improved, that service delivery is effective and efficient. And that is our work. As we represent the people here, any programme of government that we feel needs to be reformed, needs to be re-strategize for effective and efficient service delivery to Nigerians, we will insist because this is the only way to go.
“This is in continuation of that drive to ensure that what we do with you today will enhance the performance of the Task Force and of course, government intention of controlling COVID-19 will be realised as quickly as possible.
“We must always remember that we are working for the people of this country and we are responsible and accountable to them,” Lawan said.
Lawan explained that the essence and focus of the meeting was for the National Assembly leadership to engage with the PTF, so as to clearly understand what the task force has been doing.
“But let me also say that this is a partnership. As you work from that side of government, we are to work with you from this side and it will take the two arms, particularly the Executive and Legislature, to implement the kind of efforts to manage and control the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.
While commending the task force and medical personnel for the work they have been doing, he appreciated Nigerians for showing understanding and supporting the government in its effort to manage and control the Coronavirus.
“I believe that we face one critical challenge today in our fight against COVID-19. We have donations made by various organisations, corporate bodies and so on but it is my candid opinion that there is no coordination,” Lawan stressed.
Commenting, the PTF chairman, Boss Mustapha assured that the Task Force would not be directly involved in the collection and disbursement of the cash donations for COVID-19, for transparency and accountability.
“The Accountant-General of the Federation has already published the account details for collection through some commercial banks and also provided the modalities for its utilisation.
“All the main COVID-19 accounts shall be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria. However, all non-cash donations shall be duly received by the PTF, acknowledged, documented and appropriately deployed,” the PTF chairman said.
The meeting was also attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, principal officers and members of the relevant Senate and House Committees.

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