Re: Femi Falana, Covid-19 fund and the art of misrepresentation


At the memorial lecture held by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) in Lagos on Sunday, February 12, 2024, in honour of its foundation president, the late Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, I urged Nigerians to demand accountability in respect of the huge funds gained the removal of fuel subsidy. In the course of my presentation, I informed the audience that the sum of N135 billion was distributed to the 36 state governments last December to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a rejoinder to my statement, Mr. Temitope Ajayi, a Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, has accused me of “misrepresentation of facts.” However, he turned round to confirm the disbursement when he said that, “In a bid to further manage the aftermath of Covid-19 in line with the framework of the WHO and the World Bank, the Federal Government, in December 2023, disbursed N135.4billion to the states following Independent Assessment of results achieved under the Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme.”

For reasons best known to Mr. Ajayi, he did not disclose that out of the World Bank loan of $750 million obtained by Nigeria to combat the Covid 19 pandemic, $300 million has been disbursed by the Federal Government. I have suggested elsewhere that the remaining $450 million be channelled towards the rehabilitation of some hospitals in the country.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Ajayi is curiously silent on the $3.4 billion that was also procured by the Federal Government from the International Monetary Fund to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. As the bank relevant statements apparently disappeared in the Central Bank, the Auditor-General of the Federation requested the former governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele to account for the balance of US$2.7 billion, N350 billon credited to Exchange Commission and recover the sum of N13.3 billion credited to Forex Equalisation Account diverted from the loan. (See 2020 Annual Report of the Auditor-General of the Federation.)

Since the worsening living conditions of the Nigerian people have been compounded by the payment and servicing of huge external and internal loans procured by the Federal Government and State Governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and address infrastructural decay, it is the duty of every citizen to demand accountability and transparency in the disbursement of the public funds. No amount of vulgar abuse will prevent me from asking pertinent questions in the public interest and speaking truth to power.

Femi Falana SAN.