The Ondo State Government has described as untrue and unfounded report spreading on social media that funds allocated for vulnerable group of people under the State COVID Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus, code-named “ONDO-CARES”, are diverted or mismanaged.
The Ondo State project is part of the NG-CARES which is a two-year emergency intervention programme designed by the World Bank in collaboration with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to support states in Nigeria to restore the livelihood of poor and vulnerable households, stabilize Micro and Small Enterprises affected by COVID-19 pandemic in recent years.
Reacting to the rumours of mismanaging money allocated for the project in the state, the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Ondo State, Emmanuel Igbasan, disclosed that the target of 80,734 vulnerable people benefited from $20million grant through ONDO-CARES was being achieved 100 per cent.
The Commissioner confirmed that the initiative is an intervention by World Bank that released $750m to the nation and distributed $20m to each of the 36 states of the Federation, including the FCT.
Explaining the mode of distributing the funds to the beneficiaries, Igbasan told newsmen in Akure that there was a Single Social Register which captures names of the vulnerable group of people in the state.
He disclosed that the Single Social Register predated the project, noting that there was no way anyone could have influenced or mismanaged the distribution of ONDO-CARES project.
The register, according to the Commissioner, was subjected to scrutiny and verified by World Bank officials before it was adopted for the distribution.
Distancing the state government from the disbursement of the funds directly to the beneficiaries, Igbasan revealed that the World Bank had some selected and dedicated banks, including Bank of Industry, that did the disbursement on the approval of the beneficiaries.
He said: “On the Covid-19, if your name has not been validated from that Single Social Register, which is also domiciled with the Federal Government of Nigeria and validated by World Bank, no kobo (no money) can be paid to your account. And another safeguard is that, it is not the state government that pays them (beneficiaries) directly.
“There is no element of fraud in NG-CARES project in Ondo state and it is quite unfortunately and disheartening when I saw it on the social media, when one of the eminent personalities of Ondo State, Senator Ayo Akinyelure was crying fowl, displaying crash ignorance of the programme at his level,” Igbasan said.
Igbasan noted that the disbursement linked indicators and community-based measures deployed to select beneficiaries make it extremely difficult to influence results or record any fraud.
“The project has been delivered clinically to the target beneficiaries; we can give you list and phone numbers of beneficiaries as press men to go and verify independently, the process has very transparent and being monitored by the World Bank officials.
“The beauty is that the state cannot get a dime except the project has been verified adequately. The money does not come to the purse of the state government directly. This is the assurance we have on efficiency and transparency,” he said.
Igbasan, however, said Ondo and Zamfara states had been rated the best in terms of quality and effective implementation of the NG-CARES project in the country.