The Senate has disclosed that senators will contribute 50 per cent of their salaries to efforts geared towards responding to the spread and treatment of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Acting Spokesman of the Senate, Godiya Akwashiki, announced the decision in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja yesterday.
A senator earns N750, 000 as basic salary and half of that amount translates to N375, 000.
“After due consultations following a keen review of national efforts to contain the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria, the Senate wishes to announce that from March 2020, senators will be donating 50 per cent of their salaries to efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“This monthly contribution from the Upper Legislative Chamber will be sustained until the country is declared free from the deadly virus.
“The Senate commends efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari and the administration towards securing our nation against this plague. The Senate is willing and ready to do whatever is required for the effectiveness of the measures in place now or that may be required in future to win the fight against this menace.
“The Senate commends all agencies at the Federal and state levels for working together to protect public health in the country. It also acknowledges the patriotic response of public-spirited individuals and organisations, who have contributed in one way or the other to support this fight,” the statement reads.
It appealed to Nigerians to comply with the directives on social distancing and observance of basic hygiene explained by public health officials, “as the most effective way to protect ourselves, families and country against COVID-19.”
Besides, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has demanded accountability of the use and distribution of funds donated by individuals and groups towards combating the Covid-19 pandemic.
It applauded the recent constitution of a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to coordinate donations for efficient and impactful spending, adding, however, that the committee did not take cognizance of representatives from the media and other credible governmental and non-governmental organisations working on anti-corruption, transparency and accountability in governance and public financial management.
In a statement issued in Abuja by its Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, it decried government’s inadequate preparedness to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and another national emergency with existing poor national storage capacity for food and other basic needs to respond adequately to the scourge.
“In times of global public emergency, proactive measures to ensure judicious use and distribution of funds are needed more than ever. Inclusion of the media and other accountability entities in the committee would compel transparency and accountability in the use and distribution of funds.
“At this juncture, Nigeria cannot afford mismanagement and misappropriation of public and donated funds. We do not hesitate to state that diversion or misappropriation of the funds would be tantamount to betrayal, unpatriotism and selfishness in the management of the nation’s treasury, which is punishable under relevant laws,” the statement reads.