Covid-19 Reimbursement: Real Reasons Why FG Excludes Ogun State
Facts are emerging on why the Federal Government excluded Ogun State from the N45.3 billion Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme (NG-Cares).
Several states in Nigeria filed for returns on what they claimed as expenditure during the pandemic and the FG set up a fact-finding team to probe all such claims.
In the case of Ogun State, the team found out that the bogus claims by the Ogun State government were indeed a cesspit of monumental fraud. For instance, they discovered that the so-called isolation centres actually served as conduits for corruption and corrupt practices.
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In these centres, the Secretary to the Ogun State Government, Tokunbo Talabi became the procurement officer. They queried the State Health Commissioner about the Isolation Centre setting up and she told them truthfully that she practically knew nothing about purchases and that they should contact and ask the SSG.
The Health Commissioner was said to have been livid with rage that someone who knows nothing about health procurement services took charge and started buying substandard items for the Centre setting up. The SSG, for instance, bought mattresses without covering and started sewing cloth to cover them. This is not ideal in the medical field. Hospital beds come in certain standards for patients’ protection and sickness transmission.
The FG team also visited some of the so-called Isolation Centres and discovered that save for one or two, all the other centres were just mere window dressing as they never admitted a single patient, while some only hosted one or two in the entire period. Yet, invoices covering hundreds of millions were generated for expenditure.
They also investigated the kind of drugs administered to the patients and discovered they were given Chloroquine and Paracetamol, instead of expensive anti-retroviral drugs, Remdesvir which the Ogun State government quoted in its expenses.
What confused the FG team was the manner in which CACOVID palliatives were distributed in Ogun State. They saw traces that most of the items meant for the poor and vulnerable were hijacked by Dapo Abiodun’s Commissioner and Political appointees while excluding the civil servants in the relevant ministries and agencies. Government politicians turned these items, especially food into political weapons.
They further discovered that these items were being moved from one storage warehouse to another and in some cases threw a few items open and encouraged thugs loyal to the government to attack the warehouses to cart away some of those items so that there won’t be any traces about the numbers that the governor and his cronies have converted for themselves. The bulk of these food items however surfaced two years later as expired products which were then shared with the hapless citizens for the 2023 election.
When the FG team looked through the books, they noticed a lot of inflated costs here and there and they, therefore, concluded that Ogun state does not deserve and cannot benefit from any reimbursement.
Seunmanuel Faleye is a brand and communications strategist. He is a covert writer and an overt creative head. He publishes Apple's Bite International Magazine.