Niger Assembly grills SSG, Commissioner over N795M covid-19 fund

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From Mathew Jwantu, Minna

The Niger State House of Assembly on Wednesday, quizzed the State’s Secretary to the State Government, Alh. Ahmed Matene and Commissioner for health, Dr. Mohammed Maikusidi over a N795M fund dedicated to the fight against Coronavirus disease.

The lawmakers accused the State COVID-19 taskforce officials of operating in secrecy.

A House member, Mr. Malik Madaki representing Bosso constituency said the committee “Did not carry the House along in executing its projects.

“Even when the palliatives were provided, there was no member of this Assembly involved in it. Most of the palliatives given in our constituencies were given from our purse.”

Another Member Mr. Ndagi Baba, representing Lavun Constituency, said none of the people of his constituents received any palliatives from the state government.

The House Committee Chairman on Health, Mr. Yabagi Akote also queried that he was supposed to be part of the COVID-19 Task Force but was sidelined.

The SSG, Ahmed Matane who doubles as the Chairman of the State Covid-19 Taskforce said, Niger State has not received any funds from the Federal government for COVID-19 control.

According to him, the state taskforce got N47 million as donations from individuals and corporate organizations, a fund he said has not been touched.

All other funds used, the SSG said were provided by the State government.

“Everything we have done is from the budgetary allocation from the state government. We have not received one naira from the Federal government in terms of monetary donations, only the three trucks of rice and 700 jerricans of vegetable oil from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.

Matane explained that the Task Force spent N410 million on palliatives, N85 million on electricity subsidy, and all other funds on transportation of taskforce members and patients from the local government centres to the isolation centres; provision of water and allowances of volunteers, security operatives, front line workers and some members of the task force.

The official said another N290 million was spent on Protective Personal Equipment (PPEs), drugs, capacity buildings for health workers, risk communication and transportation of health workers.

The Legislators at the end of the interview said they were not satisfied with the answers given by the COVID-19 Task Force.

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