SERAP Demands Probe Of World Bank Loans Spending By Nigerian Govt

₦121.67trn Debt: SERAP Demands Probe Of World Bank Loans Spending By Nigerian Govt 

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The Socioeconomic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP), has called on the World Bank Inspection Panel to probe allegations of corruption in the spending of loans and other funding facilities obtained from the Bank by Nigeria’s Federal Government and 36 state governors.

The group demanded a review of the implementation of all World Bank-funded projects by successive governments in Nigeria since 1999.

 

The complaint was contained in a letter dated 22 June 2024 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, addressed to the Chair, World Bank Inspection Panel.

The complaint followed recent report by the Debt Management Office (DMO), that Nigeria’s total public debt (including external and domestic debts), has increased by ₦24.33 trillion in three months, from ₦97.34 trillion ($108.23 billion) in December 2023 to ₦121.67 trillion ($91.46 billion) as of 31 March 2024.

SERAP said the World Bank has over the years approved loans for projects that worth about $36 billion but they have little or no impact on tackling challenges of poverty faced by Nigerians.

The organisation stated that Nigerians were hardly informed or adequately consulted about several of these loans and Bank-funded projects, adding that they have “continue to be denied the benefits of the loans and facilities and access to basic public goods and services.”

“Despite several loans and other funding facilities provided by the World Bank over many years, millions of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians in several states and communities continue to lack access to regular electricity supply and have denied the benefit of renewable energy solutions,” SERAP stated.

The group said there is lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans and facilities obtained by the Federal Government and the 36 state governors.

It urged the Inspection Panel to “determine the extent to which the Bank Management has followed or is following the World Bank’s operational policies and procedures applicable to the design, appraisal and implementation of all Bank-financed projects in Nigeria.”

According to the group, failure by World Bank Management to diligently follow the Bank’s “operational policies and procedures in Bank-funded projects have resulted in the alleged mismanagement of the loans and facilities and exposed millions of Nigerians to extreme poverty.

“We are concerned about the negative impact of the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans and facilities obtained by the Federal Government and Nigeria’s 36 state governors on the social and economic well-being of millions of Nigerians and the enjoyment of their human rights.

“We are concerned that several of Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT reportedly owe civil servants’ salaries and pensions. Several states are borrowing to pay salaries. Millions of Nigerians resident in these states and the FCT continue to be denied access to basic public goods and services.”

 

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SERAP listed several World Bank loans approved for projects in the areas of education, healthcare, power sector and other critical infrastructure in Nigeria between 2000 and and 2024, but no meaningful impact because of alleged corruption and mismanagement of public funds including the loans.

This, it said, has “contributed to widespread poverty, underdevelopment and lack of access to public goods and services in the country.”

It further stated that “The allegations of corruption in the loans and facilities provided by the Bank calls into question the rigor with which the Bank undertook due diligence in assessing the social, economic and environmental risks of its financed-projects in the country.

“The apparent inadequacy of safeguards and accountability mechanisms for the loans, facilities and project implementation has resulted in the alleged diversion of public funds for other purposes other than those agreed with the Bank.”

“The Bank has apparently failed and/or neglected to effectively apply its various operational policies and procedures to ensure the transparent and accountable spending of its 197 loans and facilities across several states in the country.”

SERAP said it has over the years sent several complaints to the World Bank about the lack of transparency and accountability in the loans and facilities and the projects financed by the loans but the Bank Management has consistently failed to take any action about it.

It warned that the plight of millions of Nigerians as a result of the alleged corruption in the spending of loans and funding facilities provided by the Bank amount to violations of human rights guaranteed under the human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.

“As a UN specialized agency, the World Bank also has an obligation to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and effective implementation of the World Bank and to observe the provisions of the UN Charter, as well as the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”

“The World Bank has obligations under international anti-corruption and human rights law, including a responsibility to promote transparency and accountability in the management of public funds, prevent mismanagement or diversion of public funds, and redress any abuse of public trust that they may have contributed to,” SERAP further stated.


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