Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an urgent appeal to Nigerian lawmakers to divert the N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex to all the thirty-six states of the federation.
speaking via aIn the letter dated 11 April, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the human right and accountability group praised the lawmaker philanthropic gesture to Nigerian during pandemic period but also appealed to them to immediately make a public commitment to redirect the N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex to give N1 billion to each of the 36 states, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as COVID-19 direct reliefs and benefits to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
SERAP said: “We applaud the patriotic steps and voluntary contributions already made by the National Assembly towards fighting COVID-19 in the country. We now urge you to make major strides to national efforts to deal with one of the greatest threats facing the country by immediately redirecting the N37 billion to provide direct and tangible benefits to the poorest and most vulnerable people among us.”
According to SERAP: “While some of the authorities’ responses to COVID-19 across the country may be necessary to stop the spread of the disease and save lives, we are concerned that the prevailing situation has taken its toll on the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people who continue to endure the grimmest of conditions in several states and the FCT.”
SERAP’s urgent appeal, read in part: “We also urge you to immediately advise President Muhammadu Buhari and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to urgently implement your commitment to redirect the N37 billion to provide direct and tangible benefits and reliefs to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”
“The money must be spent now to serve the public good. Spending the N37 billion as proposed would increase the ability of states and FCT authorities to provide COVID-19 reliefs and benefits. It would not cause any budget deficit. But assuming it does, it would be a good deficit, as it would serve the public good.”
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