A coalition of NGOs under the Say No Campaign have lauded the recent announcement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that processes are underway to provide various intervention funds for small businesses to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement by its Convener, Ezenwa Nwangu, the coalition noted that while such intervention was a step in the right direction, key issues of accountability and transparency in the disbursement of the fund have to be made a priority. The coalition noted that the effects would be positive if the apex bank provides the stated sum of $136 million, which is N50 Billion, to help small companies stay afloat, and to support pharmaceutical companies to produce patent drugs and medical supplies, and to assist the many households, which have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement read: “While this move is highly commendable, we will like to emphasize the need to put in place some transparency and accountability measures that will provide all affected companies a level playing ground of benefiting from this intervention and ensuring that these funds are judiciously used for the purpose for which it was set aside. There is a need to deliberately track and monitor the disbursement and effective utilizations of these funds to ensure prudence, thereby preventing diversion of the funds.”
The Say No Campaign similarly called on the apex bank to clearly state the criteria for determining the ‘households most hit by the scourge’, to forestall the eventuality of making the process of selection susceptible to manipulation that may lead to some individuals having undue advantage because of their positions. “The process must be designed to ensure that no vested interest is accorded any advantage at the expense of those who are deserving of this crucial intervention. The coalition also called on the apex bank, led by Godwin Emefiele to set up a dedicated CBN Intervention Fund tracking committee comprising the apex bank, relevant trade unions, and civil society bodies for the purpose of ensuring that all relevant and agreed protocols are complied with, in the spirit of fairness and equity.
“This will ensure transparency and further heighten general confidence level in the process, thereby checkmating the nefarious activities of possible vested interest that will be out to ensure that efforts of the government and particularly the apex bank are truncated.”