#iPGN: NMA, others warn against diverting N1.9bn Ebola fund

Some stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to shun the temptation of diverting the N1.9bn set aside for the containment of the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The Nigerian Medical Association, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, and some activists warned the Federal Government against diverting the intervention fund.

The NMA Secretary-General, Dr. Adewunmi Alayaki, told Saturday PUNCH in an interview in Abuja that people should avoid the temptation of seeing the outbreak of the Ebola virus as an opportunity to enrich themselves.

President Goodluck Jonathan had, on August 8, 2014, approved the release of N1.9bn as the Ebola intervention fund.

But two weeks after the presidential directive, the fund had yet to be released.

The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, had said on Wednesday that the Federal Government had released N200m to the Lagos State Government.

But on Thursday, the minister said in a statement that the N200m was not part of the N1.9bn Ebola intervention.

The NMA secretary-general claimed that there had been instances in which funds allocated to fight diseases did not get to the end users.

Alayaki said, “We have seen a lot of cases in which money will be released and it will not get to end users. Whatever is allocated to fight Ebola, let that money be used for the purpose.

“People will want to take advantage of what is going on to enrich themselves. That is not the best. What we are saying is that the money should be released to the end users.”

Also, Falana and other activists have asked Nigerians to demand accountability from the government on how the money would be spent.

In separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH, they condemned the delay in disbursing the fund to various state governments.

They believe that the money can be diverted for funding the President’s re-election bid, the same concern which they expressed about the $1bn loan being requested by the Federal Government to fight insurgency.

Apart from Falana, others who spoke with Saturday PUNCH included a chief of the All Progressives Congress, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, human rights lawyer, Fred Agbaje, and the Executive Chairman of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran.

The National Coordinator of Civil Society Network Against Corruption, Mr. Lanre Suraj, also spoke with our correspondent over the issue, calling on Nigerians to ask questions on how the money would be spent.

Suraj said, “Nigerians need to monitor how the money is going to be spent. We need to ask appropriate questions. We have to ask as many questions as possible until all the questions regarding the money are answered.”


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