Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the World Bank President, Mr Ajay Banga, to suspend any loans and funding to the 36 states of the federation.
It therefore called for a transparent investigation into the spending of loans and other facilities by the country’s 36 state governors and find out there is relevant admissible evidence of mismanagement or diversion of public funds.
SERAP urged the bank to suspend further applications for loans and any other funding to the 36 states until they are able to satisfactorily explain details of spending of loans and other facilities obtained from the bank and its partners.
In a letter dated November 25, 2023 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said there was a significant risk of mismanagement or diversion of funds linked to the bank’s investments in many of the states.
“The World Bank and its partners cannot continue to give loans and other funding to these states where there are credible allegations of mismanagement or diversion of public funds.
“We are concerned that there is a significant risk of mismanagement or diversion of funds linked to the bank’s investments in many of the country’s 36 states. It is neither appropriate nor responsible lending to give loans to these states only for the loans to be misspent.”
“The World Bank’s lending, and support for these states may create the impression of complicity in the allegations of mismanagement or diversion of public funds by the states which may include loans from the bank and its partners, and federal allocations.
“We would consider the option of pursuing legal action should the World Bank fail to implement the recommendations contained in this letter, and we may join the country’s 36 states in any such suit,” SERAP stated.
It noted that according to Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO), total public debt portfolio for the country’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is currently N9.17 trillion, while the federal government’s total public debt portfolio is N78.2 trillion.
“SERAP also urges you to demand express commitment from Nigeria’s 36 governors to address credible allegations of mismanagement or diversion of public funds in their states and provide guarantees that loans and funding from the bank and its partners would not be used to fund the luxurious lifestyles of politicians.
“SERAP urges the bank to send independent monitors to the 36 states to monitor the spending of the loans and other funding obtained from the bank and its partners to remove the risks of mismanagement or diversion of public funds by these states,” SERAP stressed.
The World Bank, it said, currently has a portfolio of about $8.5 billion spread across the country.
It also pointed out that the Bank has approved several loans and other funding facilities for the country’s 36 states, including the recent $750 million credit line meant to the states carry out reforms to attract investment and create jobs.
“The accounts of Nigeria’s 36 states are generally not open to public scrutiny as many of them continue to refuse freedom of information requests seeking transparency and accountability in the spending of public funds.
“The World Bank and its partners need to make clear to Nigeria’s state governors that it would not tolerate any mismanagement or diversion of public funds by immediately suspending any pending loans and other funding to them until the allegations of mismanagement or diversion of public funds are investigated,” it added.