By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
Social accountability initiatives, Follow The Money and BudgIT, with learning partners Global Integrity, have launched a comprehensive user-friendly COVID-19 Fund Africa website as part of the COVID19 Transparency & Accountability Project (CTAP).
This, is in a bid to provide African citizens with access to evidence on COVID resources, as the COVID Africa Tracking website has flexible navigation and functionality that allows visitors to access all data on COVID in Africa, including intervention resources, funds allocations, palliative distributions, accurate number of cases, data on COVID funds, vaccine management and government’s responsiveness.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, to launch the website, the Chief Executive Officer, BudgIT Nigeria, Gabriel Okeowo, noted that the three Organizations decided to pursue the course as a lot of resources have been committed into the fight against COVID-19.
He stated that the initiative in tracking and reporting on the activities and resources that is going into CTAP, is part of the efforts to position Africa in the right track to be able to redeem her image before the international community, and also, account for resources that have been committed to the fight against Covid-19.
In his words, “Our record has it that so far now, we have over $50bn that has been committed to COVID-19 across Africa. This website we are launching today, is the one-stop centre for everyone from any African country or anywhere in the world to see what funds are committed to what country, and what the data are saying generally.
“Data don’t lie, so the website is a collection of data relevant to COVID-19 transparency and accountability. The website has created a platform for anyone to share a story”, he remarked.
For his part, Follow The Money Founder, Hamzat Lawal, pointed out that the primary goal for designing the website is to improve citizens’ use of data for advocacy and government engagement in a manner that promotes transparency, accountability and open governance.
While calling on the government to make public the implementation plan of procurement and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines, he urged the National Assembly to play its oversight function by ensuring that the Executive makes public reports on their COVID-19 fund expenditure.
He said, “We want the National Assembly to hold a public hearing, and bring the Central Bank of Nigeria, bring the Ministry of Finance, bring the Accountant General of the Federation. The role of the National Assembly is to provide oversight on the executive and these expenditures, some of which have been budgeted for, have been released and used.
“So, I believe that our representative at the National Assembly should heed the call of CSOs and call for a public hearing, so we don’t wait after two or three years before they start releasing reports on the corrupt figures. Let’s get these figures now and let’s put people behind bars”, he emphasized.
Speaking on the N25.5 billion allegedly spent by the government on the Primary Healthcare Centres(PHC), he challenged the Minister of Health to provide a list of the PHCs that benefited from the funds.
“Can they give us a list of the Primary Healthcare Centres that benefited from this. What we have across the six geo-political zones are death camps, not PHCs, let our Minister of Health tell us, who are beneficiaries of this money, let him release this information”, he said.
Presenting the statement of the CSOs, Communications Associate, Adaora Okoye, explained that the website currently displays information on $51.05B resources committed to COVID-19 across Africa, $5.08B In-Kind Donation as well as over 2,532 COVID Datasets across Africa. Published resources featured on the website analyse post-COVID economic environment and its impact on marginalized communities.
She pointed out that in tracking government’s level of responsiveness, the CSOs have shown, through data on the CTAP website, overarching issues such as discrepancies in palliatives and cash transfer distributions, substandard healthcare compounded by the pandemic, disintegration of COVID data, vague procurement processes and blatant corruption by government officials..
According to her, “The COVID tracking site also featured COVID analysis and research resources for seven focus countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and Nigeria. It highlights COVID status in these countries and also features knowledge centres on human angle stories curated from citizens across the countries”.
Explaining further, she noted that the website which was built with a focus on user’s experience, the one-stop website https://www.covidfund.africa/ has some of these attributes;
- Live Updates on COVID data on a daily basis from all over Africa.
- Data Display to provide face-level information on the total number of COVID fund allocation to Africa and COVID cases.
- Resource Filters which allows citizens to easily narrow down to the country or specific resource portfolio by clicking the African country they would like data on.
- Research and Papers on COVID tracking and government’s responsiveness In Africa.
- Rapid Response Functionality allowing the site to be compatible with all browsers and mobile devices.
Furthermore, the CSOs urged citizens to utilise the new COVIDAfrica platform to access data that they need to engage with their governments, adding that this is an opportunity for African governments to improve communication with citizens and adopt progressive governance mechanisms in advancing transparency and accountability and regaining citizens’ trust.