BudgIT, a civic-tech organization leading the advocacy for transparency, accountability, and effective service delivery in Nigeria, calls for openness and accountability concerning the distribution of the five billion naira relief fund approved by the Nigerian Federal Government to state governments.
The recent economic crisis and escalating cost of living nationwide, particularly in essential commodities such as food items, have sparked reactions. In response, the Federal Government approved N5 billion as palliatives to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to cushion the impact of the petrol subsidy removal.
According to the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, 52% of the funds are given as grants to the state governments, while the remaining 48% will be issued as loans.
While this move is to alleviate the effect of the subsidy removal, there are concerns regarding the distribution mechanism for the palliatives across the 36 states. In addition to the N5 billion relief fund, the federal government released five trucks of rice to each of the 36 state governors.
Meanwhile, the state governors will also procure 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize, and fertilizers. What is worrisome is the absence of a detailed guideline on how the state governments will distribute these resources. There are mixed reactions nationwide over the potential mismanagement or unequal distribution of these palliatives. Without a comprehensive framework, the risk of these resources not reaching the most vulnerable of society is high.
More so, the issue of subnational transparency is a critical factor. As these funds are disbursed to the states, it becomes paramount for each state government to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability. Citizens have the right to know how the N5 billion funds will be utilized within their respective states. A clear plan and communication on how these resources will be used are vital in building public trust.
Speaking on this, the Acting Head of Open Government and Institutional Partnership, BudgIT, Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa, referenced videos making the rounds on social media showing citizens receiving palliatives like beggars amid zero decorum. “Acts like this will not establish who received what, thereby defeating the purpose of transparency and accountability,” he said.
Given these concerns, BudgIT urges the federal and state authorities to provide and publicize a comprehensive sharing formula and breakdown of how the palliatives will be shared among citizens to ensure equitable access and accountability. Enhance transparency by openly communicating their strategies for utilizing and distributing the funds and resources allocated. Collaborate with independent organizations to establish monitoring measures that the public can access.
The well-being of Nigerians during these challenging times should remain a top priority. BudgIT believes a transparent and inclusive approach to palliative distribution and resource management is crucial to fostering public trust and achieving this initiative’s desired impact on the citizens.
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