The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for an independent investigation into the N500 billion COVID-19 funds.
In a statement on Sunday by the PDP’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party accused the Humanitarian minister, Sadiya Farouq, and some Federal Government officials of giving a false impression to Nigerians that the private sector donations and that of the government were the same.
“The PDP is appalled by the scandalous attempt by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, to create an impression that the CACOVID palliatives besieged in the aftermath of the EndSARS protest were the same federal government palliatives for which she is required to give account.
“Our party wants to inform the minister that such infantile antics cannot sway Nigerians, as the public is already aware that CACOVID palliatives came from donations from well meaning individuals and organizations which is completely different from the N500 billion voted by the federal government, which has not been accounted for.
“If anything, this attempt by the minister to muddle-up issues and confuse Nigerians only goes to validate allegations of stealing and diversion of funds and palliatives provided by the Federal Government and placed under her purview.
“The embattled minister has not explained the reason for the obvious circumventing of statutory public finance report system and appropriate documentation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), leading to the alleged diversion of funds to private purses.” The PDP statement partly reads.
Both the federal government and the private sector-led Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID) had on separate occasions provided relief items worth billions of Naira such as food, medical supplies, and other commodities to vulnerable Nigerians across the states and Abuja to combat the economic effects of the pandemic.
While many of these items had been delivered and handed over to the state governments for distribution to their citizens, many Nigerians have been accusing the Humanitarian Ministry of diverting the palliatives, as well as the N20,000 disbursements funds meant for poor Nigerians.
While some state governments claimed they had distributed the items to the vulnerable members in their various communities, some chose to warehouse theirs for whatever reasons.
However, in the past few weeks, during the #EndSARS protests which were later hijacked by some criminals, PREMIUM TIMES reported many cases of looting of government warehouses and private businesses by hoodlums in Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Kwara, Cross River, Kaduna, Plateau and some other states.
The food items such as garri, rice, spaghetti, Indomie and vegetable oil – were labelled ‘Not for Sale’, indicating that they should only be distributed for free.
The anti-graft agency, ICPC, had said it would investigate the looting of the palliatives as well as scale up its monitoring mechanism of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) saddled with their acquisition and distribution.
But in its release, the PDP said the Minister should provide details of the distribution of palliatives and agents in all states; as well as details of bank withdrawals and beneficiaries of her N20,000 disbursements.
The opposition party also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to “Immediately order an open and independent public enquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 funds.
“The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development should therefore end her unnecessary showboating and self-exoneration and get ready to give an account of the allegedly diverted billions of naira provided by the Federal Government for COVID-19 palliatives instead of seeking to hide under CACOVID palliatives looting.
“The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs should give an account of how much was released to her, the specific purchases, with details of contractors; details of the distribution of palliatives and agents in all states; as well as details of bank withdrawals and beneficiaries of her N20,000 disbursements.
“Nobody should hide under CACOVID to foreclose investigations into the stealing of funds meant for the poor and vulnerable in our country.
“The PDP, however, restates our call for calm but urges the Federal Government to end such provocative antics being played by its officials to cover corruption.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Prince Uche Secondus