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SERAP seeks audit of Buhari’s loans, review of ex-governors’ pensions

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Lagos-based rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to provide spending details of the loans obtained by his government since May 29, 2015, including details and locations of the projects the funds were deployed.

In a Freedom of Information (FoI) request yesterday, the organisation also implored the first citizen to use his “leadership position and the opportunity of the fifth anniversary of your government in office 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.”

The inquiry was copied to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abukabar Malami; his Finance, Budget and National Planning counterpart, Zainab Ahmed, and the Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Patience Oniha.

Buhari had last week sought the approval of the National Assembly for a fresh loan of $5.513 billion credit to fund the 2020 budget deficit, critical projects and support some states.

The legislature recently approved a N850 billion loan.

Another request of $22.79 billion, already approved by the Senate, is currently before the House of Representatives for concurrence.

But in the FoI request dated May 30, 2020 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the group expressed concern 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.”

It added: “Opacity in the spending of loans would continue to have negative impact 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 debt burden to fund the opulent lifestyles of former state governors receiving life pensions, we urge you to cut the costs of governance, including obeying the judgment ordering your government to challenge the legality of states’ pension laws, and to recover pensions collected by former governors.”


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