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Fresh $5.5bn credit: Buhari gets ultimatum to account for previous loans

M. A Salaam

May. 31, 2020

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a Freedom of Information request to President Muhammadu Buhari to provide spending details of all loans obtained by his government since May 29, 2015.
Buhari was asked to include details and locations of projects on which the loans have been spent.
SERAP issued 7 days ultimatum and that if they do not get a reply, it shall take all appropriate legal actions.
The organisation is also urging Buhari to set up an independent audit of all loans to resolve any allegations of mismanagement and corruption, and to publish spending details of loans obtained by successive administrations since 1999, list of countries and bodies that have given the loans, and specific repayment conditions.
Last week, the President sought the National Assembly’s approval for a fresh loan of $5.513bn, reportedly to fund the 2020 budget deficit, critical projects, and support some states.
This followed a recent approval of a N850 billion loan.
Similarly, another loan of $22.79bn, already approved by the Senate, is pending before the House of Representatives.
SERAP, in a FoI request signed by deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, expressed concerns that while governments since 1999 have borrowed money in the name of Nigeria and its citizens, much of the funds have reportedly been mismanaged, stolen or squandered.
The group warned that opacity in the spending of loans would continue to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of citizens.
SERAP stated that instead taking more loans and increasing Nigeria’s debts burden to fund the opulent lifestyles of former state governors receiving life pensions, Buhari should cut the costs of governance.
The group lamented the massive and growing national debts and other issues like quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water, and regular electricity supply.
SERAP told Buhari to promptly instruct Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the spending of all loans obtained since the assumption of office in May 2015.
Copied in the FoI request are Abukabar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance and Ms Patience Oniha, Director-General of the Debt Management Office.
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