By Hassan Zaggi
The media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria have been called upon to follow up, closely monitor and ensure accountable and transparent disbursement and utilisation of the US$114.28 million World Bank credit and grant given to the country.
The Coordinator of Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), Dr Aminu Magashi, made the call in Abuja, on Thursday, while unveiling the spotlight on the Nigeria COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and response programme, with theme: ”To enhance accountability and Transparency”.
According to him, the US$114.28 million grant was given to Nigeria by the World Banks for its COVID-19 Preparedness and Strategic Response Programme.
“This was financed by the WB through two sources, namely the International Development Agency (IDA/WB) credit at US$100 million, available through the Fast-Track COVID-19 Facility (FCTF) under the crisis response window and Nigeria’s IDA19 allocation; and through a WB grant financing at US$14.28 million, available through the Pandemic Emergency Financing (PEF) Facility.
“The project’s intervention, which is mostly at the state and local government level, was initiated due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 in Nigeria. It has a four-year life span which began in 2020 to end in 2023.
“The funds have been allocated to intervene in emergency COVID-19 response by allotting US$14.28 million for Federal Support and Procurement for COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response and US$90.00 million for Direct Support to States for COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response, while US$10.00 million was dedicated to the Management, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation.
“The US$10.00 million includes US$5.00 million for Project Management and Coordination and US$5.00 million for Monitoring and Evaluation,” he explained.
While noting that the disbursement of the funds began in 2021 with Nigeria receiving US$70.00 million as the first tranche, Magashi revealed that Nigeria would then access US$42 million in 2022 and US$2.28 million in 2023.
Speaking on the objectives of the strategic preparedness and response programme, he said that the programme is in
three-fold. This, he said include; to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness; to prevent, detect, and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 at the state level; and to strengthen public health systems preparedness and maintain essential health and nutrition services.
“The programme, which will be implemented by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), is targeted at the establishment of Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) and the activation of Incident Management Systems (IMS) for COVID-19; the establishment of at least three isolation/treatment/community support centers; the establishment of at least one state-owned laboratory with capacity to perform diagnosis of COVID-19 according to national guidelines; as well as the identification, monitoring and treatment of diagnosed/confirmed cases at the designated isolation or treatment centers,” he explained.
Magashi added that the AHBN was providing technical support to country-level accountability mechanisms such as the COVID-19 Finances Accountability Working Group in Nigeria to ensure transparency in the implementation of the WB project.
He, therefore called on advocates to engage the NCDC to determine the level of implementation of Direct Support to States, and also charged the media to beam its search light on the disbursement and implementation of the grant.
On her part, the co-chair of the Nigeria COVID-19 Finances Accountability Working Group and CEO of Vaccine Network for Disease Control, Mrs Chika Offor, , said that the that US$114.28 million can make tremendous impact in Nigeria’s health sector if properly put to use.
“All CSOs and NGOs in Nigeria should be interested in following up these funds to ensure that it is used transparently and judiciously for the purposes it is meant for.
“The NCDC which is the coordinating agency must work hard to ensure that all funds released are put to immediate use. Nigerians are watching closely what happens with these huge funds,” she said.