Reps order probe into handling of N183.9bn COVID-19 intervention fund

The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, directed its Committee on Public Accounts to probe claims that the N183.9 billion COVID-19 intervention fund was improperly handled.

The order came in a resolution following a motion moved during plenary by Rep Nyampa Zakari (PDP, Adamawa

Zakari had claimed in the motion that numerous ministries and organizations misused the COVID-19 intervention monies during the pandemic

According to him, the federal budget had earmarked more than N183.9 billion for the intervention money, adding that money was donated to the coffers by other international donors.

“The disruption of economic activity made it necessary to implement several programmes, laws, and interventions to help families, small enterprises, and public corporations and to strengthen their economies.

“To battle the COVID-19 pandemic on the populace, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched several initiatives, including financial provisions and money from international donor organisations.

“A sum of N83.9 billion was appropriated for the COVID-19 response in the 2020 Appropriation Act, as well as another sum of over N100 billion as intervention funds through the supplementary budget and international donor agencies,” the lawmaker added.

He further alleged the mishandling was detailed in one of the Auditor General’s reports.

Zakari argued that the poor handling would discourage future donations to Nigeria from donor organisations.

“Auditor-General’s report and other sources reveal that significant funds for COVID-19 palliatives and international donations were diverted and unaccounted for by various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government.

“Lack of proper accountability of funds allocated for COVID-19 intervention by the federal government and global donor agencies could potentially lead to negative economic ratings and loss of opportunities for Nigeria,” he said.

While speaking on the motion, Rep Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno), stated that the probe was essential because the House has already been charged with receiving benefits from the COVID-19 intervention money.

“Imagine how many schools would have been built if each constituency received N500 million”, Jaha said.

After being placed to a vote by Speaker Abbas Tajudeen, the resolution was adopted by the House by a unanimous vote.

The House thereafter instructed the committee to look into the COVID-19 intervention funds distributed to federal ministries, departments, and agencies between 2020 and 2022 and provide a report within four weeks for additional legislative action.

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