By Udora Orizu
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the World Bank to release information on the $500million funding for electricity projects in Nigeria.
The World Bank Board of Directors had last week approved $500m to help boost access to electricity in Nigeria and improve the performance of the electricity distribution companies in the country.
SERAP, in the request addressed to the World Bank President, Mr. David Malpass said it would appreciate if the Bank could release archival records to identify and name any executed projects, Nigerian officials, ministries, departments and agencies involved in the execution of such projects.
In the request dated 6 February 2021, and signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization urged the Bank to also explain the rationale for the approval of $500m, despite reports of widespread and systemic corruption in the sector, and the failure of the authorities to enforce a court judgment ordering the release of details of payments to allegedly corrupt electricity contractors who failed to execute any projects.
SERAP said: ”This application is brought pursuant to the World Bank’s Access to Information Policy, which aims to maximize access to information and promote the public good. There is public interest in Nigerians knowing about the Bank’s supervisory role and specifically its involvement in the implementation of electricity projects, which it has so far funded.”
”The $500m is part of the over one billion dollars available to Nigeria under the project titled: Nigeria Distribution Sector Recovery Program. We would be grateful for details of any transparency and accountability mechanisms under the agreement for the release of funds, including whether there is any provision that would allow Nigerians and civil society to monitor the spending of the money by the government, its agencies, and electricity distribution companies.”
”Should the Bank fail and/or refuse to release the information and documents as requested, SERAP would file an appeal to the Secretariat of the Bank’s Access to Information Committee to challenge any such decision, and if it becomes necessary, to the Access to Information Appeals Board. SERAP may also consider other legal options outside the Bank’s Access to Information framework.
”SERAP is seriously concerned that the funds approved by the Bank are vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. The World Bank has a responsibility to ensure that the Nigerian authorities and their agencies are transparent and accountable to Nigerians in how they spend the approved funds for electricity projects in the country, and to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.
”Millions of Nigerians still lack access to free pre-paid meters. Authorities continue to use patently illegal and inordinate estimated billing across the country, increasing consumer costs, and marginalizing Nigerians living in extreme poverty, disproportionately affecting women, children and the elderly. So the bank should disclose implementation status and results and completion reports on the electricity projects that the Bank has so far funded in Nigeria.”