Niger lawmakers demand accounts of money on COVID-19

By Ummi Ismaeel,

Niger State House of Assembly (NSHA) has demanded detailed account; including monies budgeted for by the state government and the various sums of money donated by Nigerlites for the control of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state.

The lawmakers wanted to know what number of medical equipment and related non-movable structure the state Ministry of Health and the COVID-19 taskforce procured with the sum of N190 million purportedly for the purchase of Coronavirus equipment and control of spread.

Niger State COVID-19 taskforce informed the legislature how it spent N795, 015, 000 so far on its activities while a different amount was stated for similar equipment purchased by the Ministry of Health.
This led the House Committee on Health to demand explanations.

State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Muhammad Maku-sidi, appeared before the House Committee on Health to explain why coronavirus has continued to spread in Chanchaga (Minna) metropolis in particular despite huge sums spent on drugs and equipment.

“Some things are conflicting from the presentations the chairman of the COVID-19 taskforce made last week and the document presented today by the chairman,” the House Committee Chairman on Health, Hon. Maliki Madaki, declared.

According to Madaki, “He told us last week that they have spent N795, 015, 000 so far including the N85 million paid to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) for power supply during the lockdown but he backtracked today, telling us that the N85 million wasn’t part of their expenses”.

The House Committee on Health also observed, “We also discovered that the N808, 636, 000 was the amount spent from the document presented while N76 million spent for the fumigation of the entire state wasn’t part of the total amount”.

Efforts by the Secretary to State Government (SSG) and the Chairman, State Committee on COVID-19, Alhaji Ibrahim Matane, to assuage the legislators with claims that identified errors were ‘computational’ failed to yield desired results, as they demanded for details of income and expenditure.

The committee insisted on having rectifications and accurate figures presented before further discussions could hold on the subject matter after querying how N190 million and N795, 015, 000 were utilized by the state Ministry of Health to procure equipment for Covid-19 treatment.

Madaki, who insists that the committee was not to witch-hunt anyone but to ensure that state monies were accurately accounted for said, “The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Muhammad Makusidi, while he was being quizzed told us that his Ministry had spent over N190 million on equipment for the treatment and containment of COVID-19 and we are hearing a different figure from the COVID-19 Taskforce Committee”.

“On the other hand the State Committee on COVID-19 taskforce last week told the House that it spent N795, 015, 000 on its activities, with a different amount stated for same equipment purchased. There’s a missing link and that is why we want a thorough job”.

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