Forum accuses Kogi ministry to withholding N420 million Health fund

A forum, Participation Initiatives for Behavioral Change in Development (PIBCID), has taken a swipe at the Kogi state Ministry of Health for failing to disburse the N420 million meant for the ‘Save One Million Live Project’ fund released to it by the World Bank and some other multilateral organizations.

The fund, $1.5M that was converted to the Nigerian currency at a little above N300 per dollar by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was meant for public health issues, maternal morbidity and infant mortality. The amount was received by the state Ministry of Health, in July, but has been lying fallow in the bank. The coordinator of the civil society organization for AIDS in Kogi State, Hamza Aliyu has indicated that each of the 36 states of the federation got $1.5 million, but wondered why Kogi State has failed to implement the target programme, while other States including Kaduna, were already implementing the project.
Speaking at a one-day forum for Accountable Society in Kogi State, organized by PIBCID, in partnership with Action Aid Nigeria, in Lokoja, Aliyu accused the health ministry of violating the terms of engagement, and failing to carry along critical stakeholders. His words: “The project says you must have stakeholders meeting like this one to marshal out how the programme should be implemented. We have been trying to reach out to the Ministry of Health since that time and we have always hit a brick wall. Whenever meetings are called, politicians frustrate it, which is why we have to raise the issue here. He decried the waste in allowing the fund, which was converted when one Dollar was a little above N300 to lie dormant until the Nigerian Government devalued the Naira meaning that the value of the fund has depreciated and yet the project was yet to kickoff. However, a ministry representative from the public health department, Dr. Francis Akpa, has said that effort was on to implement the project. When pressed further, he assured that everything was being out in place to meet with the terms of engagement, saying that the ministry will meet with the schedule. Meanwhile, Executive Director Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, Idris Miliki has explained that the Federal Government got $1.5m loan from the World Bank, which it is giving as a grant to each of the 36 states.

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