SERAP Tells Govs, Others To Account For N5.9Trn, $4.6Billion Loans

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Governors of the 36 states of Nigeria and the minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Nyesom Wike, were Saturday asked to release copies of the loan agreements and spending details of loans amounting to N5.9 trillion and $4.6 billion. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) made these demands in a Freedom of Information request dated March 30, 2024 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, stating that the request was for the purpose of making this information available to the public.

SERAP also urged the governors to provide information on the projects executed with these loans, including their details and locations.

The group also urged them to invite the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the spending of the domestic and external loans obtained by the state government and the FCT.

It stated that Nigerians had the right to know how their states were spending the domestic and external loans obtained by the governors.

SERAP said widely publishing copies of the loan agreements and spending details of the loans obtained would ensure that persons with public responsibilities were answerable to the people for the performance of their duties in the management of public funds.

Read the FoI requests part: “we would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel you and your state to comply with our request in the public interest.

“SERAP is seriously concerned that many of the country’s 36 states and FCT are allegedly mismanaging public funds which may include domestic and external loans obtained from bilateral and multilateral institutions and agencies.

“Transparency in the spending of the loans obtained by your state is fundamental to increase accountability, prevent corruption, and build trust in democratic institutions with the ultimate aim of strengthening the rule of law.

“According to Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, the total public domestic debt portfolio for the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory is N5.9 trillion. The total public external debt portfolio is $4.6 billion.

“Many states and the FCT reportedly owe civil servants’ salaries and pensions. Several states are borrowing to pay salaries. Millions of Nigerians resident in your state and the FCT continue to be denied access to basic public goods and services such as quality education and healthcare.

“Several states including your state are also reportedly spending public funds which may include the domestic and external loans to fund unnecessary travels, buy exotic and bulletproof cars and generally fund the lavish lifestyles of politicians”.

SERAP also maintained that it was seriously concerned that the domestic and external loans obtained by the states and the FCT were vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement.

Added the group: “Your government has a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in how any loans obtained by your state are spent, to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement”.

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