Two Non-governmental organizations, Connected Development, CODE and Oxfam Nigeria, on Wednesday toured ministries and agencies in Kwara state as part of objectives to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilization of COVID-19 funds by the government.
The team led by Dr Onyekachi Onuoha, Program And Research Associate, CODE visited Ministry of Finance, Health, and the House Uplifting Programme (Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, office.
Speaking during the two-day visit, Dr Onuoha said their mission was to source information regarding COVID-19 activities from the government, their accomplishment with proof so far as well as details of financial expenditure.
While noting that the NGOs, as part of their obligations, have various platforms to help the government propagate their accomplishments, to include a sponsored radio programme in Kwara, he said the measures are to help keep the people adequately informed, rebuild the people’s trust in government, and bridge the gap between them so they can take government serious.
Onuoha commended Kwara state for its openness and response during its request for Covid-19 fund donation and spendings during the first wave. This, he said was part of what earned the state the present recognition among other states.
While seeking for more commitment, the Program and Research Associate advocated open government partnership, OGP, with the Kwara state government.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Folorunsho AbdulRazaq, welcomed the delegate to the state and assured of Kwara State willingness to partner with CODE and Oxfam.
He highlighted some of the state government’s measures towards openness to include adoption of state fiscal transparency accountability and sustainability, (sftas), publication of budget and account details on the state website.
Others were social auditing involving Civil Society Organisations – first-of-its-kind – and engagement with citizens among others.
He assured that more information will be made available to the public on request once the freedom of information bill is passed into law in Kwara.
Flanked by Directors of departments, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr Abubakar Olayiwola Ayinla, also highlighted the various efforts of the Kwara state government towards curbing the spread of the virus, many of which he said has earned the state commendation even at the national level.
Ayinla assured of the ministry’s readiness to supply any information available on request, and directed departmental heads to assist the NGOs in their assignment.
At the House Uplifting Programme (Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT) office, the Head of CCT in Kwara, Haija Aminat Yahaya provided detailed information on the transparency and accountability of the government, the selection process of the beneficiary, the accountability framework, monitoring and evaluation of the scheme, the capacity building provided for the beneficiary as well as the far reaching impact of the programme.
Receiving the NGOs at her private residence, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr Jamila Bio Ibrahim, identified the Kwara State government’s focal Goals and the efforts being made to actualize the goals.
The SSA explained that she assumed office in the middle of the pandemic, which hindered her from executing many actions towards Covid-19 response.
She however, acknowledged that her office received beds and face masks that were donated to isolation centers.
She also mentioned the WASH campaign she flagged off towards ending open defecation.
At each of the ministries and agencies visited, the team presented a policy brief on follow the money COVID-19 fund to the government functionaries in charge.