CSO Situation Room demands for public accountability in the fight against COVID-19 in Delta State
Delta State Report:
In the light of numerous reports from community monitors engaged by some Civil Society Organisations in Delta State, on the absence of meaningful achievements by the State Government in the fight against the deadly coronavirus disease, the Civil Societies under the aegis of the CSO Situation Room have called on the State Government to fulfil its obligation on public accountability, by giving an account of all public expenditure incurred so far in its bid to tackle the pandemic.
It will be recalled that the State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, imposed a lockdown on the State which commenced on the first day of April, 2020 and culminated into a partial lockdown at the end of April. This was to enable the government control the spread of the virus and put in place certain measures that could help prevent community transmission. The government made promises to distribute adequate palliatives and free face masks amongst indigent people in the State. The government also pledged to commence community testing across the State to rid the State of the pandemic.
However, the implementation of the government’s plans, is yet to be seen or experienced. Till date, not much has been executed by the government, based on reports gotten by community monitors in the various communities. Many people do not adhere strictly to the laid-down health safety rules which the government has made mandatory in the state and the government has failed to ensure an effective enforcement of those rules.
In some parts of the State, such as Warri and its environs, where some level of compliance with the use of face masks was observed, it was as a result of security agents extorting money from defaulters who weren’t wearing face masks, which is illegal. No defaulter was arraigned before a court for trial over the violation of the health safety rules. Similarly, it has been reported that security officials at the State’s borders also extortmoney from people who breach the inter-State travel ban and travel into or outside the State. Rather than prevent them, the security officials collect money from these travellers in order to grant them passage.
Delta State currently has no Test-Centre for the coronavirus disease and the level of testing so far conducted on suspected cases in the State, is significantly low. As of May 17, 2020, the State had recorded 27 confirmed cases out of 357 tests conducted, according to reports published by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). It stands to reason, that if more tests were conducted daily, the process of detecting and isolating confirmed cases would have been faster, and more confirmed cases that may be in the State but not yet identified, would have been detected already and taken to Quarantine Centres to receive medical attention as expected. This ought to be the primary concern of the Delta State Government and there should be strategic moves made towards facilitating a collaboration with stakeholders within and outside the State, with a view to ensuring that the State’s resources are prudently and sufficiently expended on putting modalities in place that could help fast-track the processes and ensure positive outcomes are recorded.
The CSO Situation Room therefore urges the State Government to make public the revenues disbursed towards combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the State and give an account of the objectives achieved with the monies spent. The government owes it to the people of Delta State and the State legislature, to provide a breakdown of government’s actions so far taken in tackling the COVID-19 menace and how much those actions have cost the State. The people of the State deserve to know if due process has been followed in the government’s authorisation of expenditure from public funds, as well as the structure put in place by the government to ensure proper management of those funds presumed to have been channelled towards the actualisation of set goals in the campaign to surmount the pandemic.