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Health News of Monday, 15 November 2021

Source: www.tribuneonlineng.com

How we spent N1.5trn Coronavirus fund — Finance Ministry

Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed

The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning has explained how the Federal Government spent the N1.5 trillion Coronavirus fund. 

The forced explanation was secured thought the Freedom of Information request, filed by a leading lawyer, Mr Femi Falana. While the request was made on September 9, 2021, the response was dated November 1, 2021, making a gap of 53 days. 

In a cover letter signed by director, National Planning and Evaluation, Dr Zakari Lawal, the ministry claimed that while N500 billion Coronavirus intervention was “disbursed to identified MDAs to implement critical intervention programmes as contained in the 2020 Appropriation Act Amendment Coronavirus Intervention programmes, the balance were to support private sectors by the Central Bank of Nigeria through financial institutions at single digit interest rates”. 

Documents attached to the letter contained the list of programmes and projects, the implementing agencies, amount appropriated and their objectives. One contentious area of the information provided is the claimed full release of the N52 billion allocated to the public works programme, under the supervision of the National Directorate of Employment (NDE). 

The objective was for the “engagement of 774,000 youths to deliver various works and services across the 774 local government areas of the country (1,000 per council) and basic business training for the 774,000 youths. 

The scheme has run into financial hitch, with many of the beneficiaries yet to be paid. Supervising ministry of labour has blamed the coordinating banks for the delay in the payment of the beneficiaries. 

A sum of N2 billion was also allocated and released to the National Food Administration and Drugs Control (NAFDAC) to “build biovaccine testing laboratory, to upgrade NAFDAC laboratories capacity and ramp up production of vaccines.” 

Two years into the COVID-19 crisis, Nigeria is yet to develop any kinds of vaccine, with storage of imported and gifted vaccine still posing a challenge.

Curiously, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) also got N1 billion to “build biovaccine testing laboratory” and “ramp up production of vaccines” just like NAFDAC. 

National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) also got N2 billion to “establish laboratory, research and development for cures to manage COVID-19 and its medical effects.” Ministry of Youth and Sports Development got a total of N5.6 billion mainly for training of youths, providing them with work experience and ICT centres. 

According to the document, N690 million was to train 150 youths to “become Agri-Technicians,” while N2 billion was released to the ministry to train 1,600 youths to become digital professionals. 

Another N1 billion was also provided to provide 2,700 youths with work experience, while N1.5 billion was projected for the building six ICT centres in Kano, Bauchi, Plateau, Anambra, Cross River and Osun states and 24 vocational centres nationwide. Medium and Small Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) were said to have been supported with N75 billion, routed through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. 

The payment, which came under “Supporting Small Businesses,” was said to be a “salary support to preserve 1.3 million jobs in 102,000 MSMEs. Another N250 billion went to the ministry as “support to MSMEs.” N60 billion also went to the agency, maintaining federal roads, through contract and direct labour, in the six geopolitical zones. 
According to the document, N690 million was to train 150 youths to “become Agri-Technicians,” while N2 billion was released to the ministry to train 1,600 youths to become digital professionals. 

Another N1 billion was also provided to provide 2,700 youths with work experience, while N1.5 billion was projected for the building six ICT centres in Kano, Bauchi, Plateau, Anambra, Cross River and Osun states and 24 vocational centres nationwide. Medium and Small Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) were said to have been supported with N75 billion, routed through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. 

The payment, which came under “Supporting Small Businesses,” was said to be a “salary support to preserve 1.3 million jobs in 102,000 MSMEs. Another N250 billion went to the ministry as “support to MSMEs.” N60 billion also went to the agency, maintaining federal roads, through contract and direct labour, in the six geopolitical zones. 

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) got over N12 billion for solar electrification of 230 new primary health centres across the federation, deployment of 2,000 solar-powered street lights to 230 primary health centres and supply of solar systems to federal unity schools. Under “Energy for All: Solar Power Strategy,” Ministry of Power and Rural Electrification Agency got additional N140 billion. 

The Nigeria Air Force got N2.7 billion to provide air support for police operations during the lockdown, while police got N10 billion as “support” from the federal authorities. Ministry of Water Resources got almost N10 billion precisely (N9,890,525,000) to “roll out water sanitation and health projects.”

Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development got N47 billion for “N-Power: Skills acquisition and Entrepreneurship.” 

There is also “Jobs through homes programmes” that gulped N200 billion and handled by Family Homes Fund.