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[EXCLUSIVE] How 37 hospitals shared over N35 billion COVID-19 fund

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THE Nigerian government disbursed N35.74 billion to 37 of its 55 hospitals from the COVID-19 Intervention Fund at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, The ICIR exclusively reports.

All the Federal Government’s hospitals, excluding Federal Teaching Hospitals, got the money.

This ICIR had in July exclusively reported how the government shared N22.58 billion to 21 Federal Teaching hospitals under the Federal Ministry of Health from the fund.

The disbursement to the 37 hospitals differs from the capital releases of N83.31 billion the government made to the Health Ministry, its agencies, all hospitals and other institutions under the ministry that year.

 The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation made the disbursement details of the COVID-19 Intervention Fund to the health facilities available to The ICIR.

The isolation ward at the FMC Jalingo, built by the NCDC. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

A breakdown of the allocation shows that the Federal Medical Centres Asaba (Delta), Gusau (Zamfara) and Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar (Cross River), got the biggest allocations of N1.35 billion each from the fund.

Neuro-Psychiatric Hospitals, Enugu (Enugu), Kaduna (Kaduna), Maiduguri (Borno), Sokoto (Sokoto), Yaba (Lagos), Abeokuta (Ogun), and Benin City (Edo) got N1.078 billion.

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National Orthopaedic Hospitals in Kano and Enugu received N1.078 billion.

Federal Medical Centres Umuahia (Abia), Owo (Ondo), Abeokuta (Ogun), Owerri (Imo), Makurdi (Benue), Katsina (Katsina), Nguru (Yobe), Bida (Niger), Adamawa (Yola), Lokoja (Kogi), Azare (Bauchi), Birni-Kebbi (Kebbi), Jalingo (Taraba), Birni-Kudu (Jigawa), Yenegoa (Bayelsa), and Ebute Metta (Lagos) were paid N1.078 billion each.

But the government allocated N1.130 billion to Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, while the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi Nasarawa State, received N949.23 billion.

The National Hospital in Abuja, the country’s capital, was given N1.12 billion.

Six other facilities, namely the National Obstetric Fistula Centres in Bauchi, Abakaliki, Katsina and Lagos, National Eye Centre, and National Ear Centre, both located in Kaduna, were paid N280 million each. 

Entrance to Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State. Photo Credit: Olugbenga Adanikin, The ICIR.

The COVID-19 Intervention Fund 

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Individuals and corporate organisations under the auspices of the Nigeria Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) donated the fund to support the country’s effort to contain the pandemic in 2020.

CACOVID worked with the Federal Government, the NCDC, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to fight the scourge, which has killed over six million people globally and over 3,000 in Nigeria, when filing this report on August 10.

Information on the CACOVID’s website showed the group donated nearly N40 billion to support the nation’s health system in ruins.

The country spent N38.59 billion from the fund as of December 2020.

Against the usual bureaucracy that makes procurement processes rigorous, the government allowed its ministries and hospitals that received the fund to engage in emergency procurements to enable the country promptly contain the pandemic.

The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), NCDC, the Federal Ministries of Health, Water Resources, and the Interior got the fund.

 

Some of the equipment procured with the COVID-19 Intervention Fund at the isolation wards of the Federal Medical Centre, Yola. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole
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Purpose of disbursement

The government disbursed the money for six purposes in each hospital:

  • Procurement of a molecular laboratory – totalling N13.241 billion in all 37 facilities.
  • Equipping a 10-bedded intensive care unit – N6.959 billion in all the hospitals.
  • Isolation treatment centre – N3.100 billion across the hospitals.
  • Personal protective equipment – N4.642 billion in all the facilities.
  • Installation of oxygen plant – N4.104 billion across the hospitals.
  • Repair of oxygen and intensive care unit, totalling N3.697 billion in all the facilities.

The ICIR reports that the N280 million the government disbursed to the National Obstetric Fistula Centres Bauchi, Abakaliki and Katsina, National Eye and Ear Centres, Kaduna, and National Orthopaedic Hospital, Lagos was for the procurement of a molecular laboratory alone. 

Four of the 10-bedded electric bed at the ICU unit of FMC Makurdi. They were bought with the fund from CACOVID. Photo credit: The ICIR/Marcus Fatunmole

How hospitals flouted procurement guidelines

The ICIR findings showed that many hospitals entered inadequate information on the fund they received and how they spent the money into the government’s procurement website.

In June, a report by THE ICIR showed how the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) failed to enter a dime into the website but hurriedly logged in inaccurate data after the hospital was contacted during an investigation.

Many of the hospitals above, including all Neuro-Psychiatric Hospitals, National Obstetric Fistula Centres, National Eye Centre, and National Ear Centre, failed to enter any information on the procurement website. 

The Federal Medical Centre Abeokuta, Makurdi, Gusau, and Yola entered their procurement details. But the information they logged was incomplete.

Failure to upload the details, otherwise known as the procurement plan, conflicts with the government’s regulations and undermines its transparency initiatives for governance.

The details include the amount the procuring hospital got, what the hospital procured with the money, the contractor(s) that made the procurement(s), the date the hospital took delivery of the items, and other means through which it spent the money. 

To achieve the National Action Plan of the Open Government Partnership, the Nigerian government, through the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), created a website – the Nigerian Open Contracting Portal (NOCOPO), where all government-run institutions enter the details of their procurements.

This is despite the threat by the BPP that government would not process any project not included in the procurement plan of the procuring entity for payment, the hospitals made their procurements after flouting regulations.

The constructed FMC Owerri COVID-19 Isolation and Infectious Disease Centre. Photo Credit: Olugbenga Adanikin, The ICIR.

The ICIR’s investigations so far on COVID-19 Intervention Fund spending

Since 2020, The ICIR has investigated some institutions that recieved the fund.

In August 2020, The ICIR published a report on how NCDC spent N202 million on six items without a procurement plan.

In November 2021, The ICIR reported how the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) hoarded information on how it awarded 15 contracts to a single firm.

The ICIR has reported its findings on the procurements by Federal Medical Centres, Jalingo and Makurdi, Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), and the Modibbo Adama University Teaching Hospital Yola, with the COVID-19 fund. The reports are hereherehere, and here respectively.

Similarly, there have been reports on the fund’s spending at the FMC Abeokuta, FMC Owerri and the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki. Reports for the three facilities are herehere and here, respectively.

Summary of The ICIR’s recent investigations into the fund’s spending by the hospitals is that where the procurement was made, the tools procured did not have enough consultants to manage them because the professionals were resigning in droves for greener pasture, or the tools procured was fraught with infractions.

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