Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a Freedom of Information request to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to give details of all loans obtained by his government since May 29, 2015.
In the request SERAP asked Buhari to use his “leadership position and the opportunity of the 5th anniversary of your government in office to provide spending details of all loans obtained by the government since May 29, 2015, including details and locations of projects on which the loans have been spent.”
The organisation is also urging him 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.”
Buhari had last week 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. The National Assembly recently approved a N850 billion loan.
Another loan of $22.79bn, already approved by the Senate, is pending before the House of Representatives.
In the FoI request dated 30 May, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization 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, leaving the citizens with the burden of having to repay these loans.”
SERAP said: “Opacity in the spending of loans would continue to have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of citizens. Transparency would ensure that the loans are not diverted to private pockets, increase public trust that these loans would be used to benefit Nigerians, provide good value for money, and reassure Nigeria’s creditors.”
According to SERAP, “Rather than taking more loans and increasing Nigeria’s debts burden to fund the opulent lifestyles of former state governors receiving life pensions, we urge you to cut the costs of governance, including by obeying the judgment ordering your government to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws, and to recover pensions collected by former governors.”