Nigeria Ask World Bank to Probe $36Billion Loan Spending and Project Implementation

Date:

LAGOS (June 22, 2024) – The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the World Bank Inspection Panel to investigate the spending of loans by the federal and state governments in Nigeria. The organization called for a comprehensive review of all bank-funded projects by successive governments since 1999 to ensure transparency and accountability.

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In a letter dated June 22, 2024, signed by Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP highlighted concerns over allegations of corruption in the spending of loans and other funding facilities obtained by the federal government and Nigeria’s 36 state governors. The organization asked the World Bank to scrutinize the implementation of all bank-financed projects to determine compliance with the bank’s operational policies and procedures.

The call comes after the Debt Management Office (DMO) reported a significant increase in Nigeria’s total public debt stock. Between December 2023 and March 31, 2024, the debt rose by ₦24.33 trillion, from ₦97.34 trillion ($108.23 billion) to ₦121.67 trillion ($91.46 billion).

SERAP’s letter emphasized the need for the World Bank to assess the impact of any failures by bank management to follow operational policies on the social and economic rights of millions of vulnerable Nigerians. The letter noted that despite numerous loans and funding facilities, many Nigerians still lack access to basic services such as regular electricity supply and renewable energy solutions.

The letter reads in part: “The World Bank has over the years reportedly approved 197 projects for Nigeria, totaling over $36 billion in loans and other funding facilities, with little or no impact on Nigerians living in poverty. Nigerians are rarely informed and meaningfully and effectively consulted about several of these loans, facilities, and bank-funded projects. Despite several loans and other funding facilities provided by the World Bank over many years, millions of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians in several states and communities continue to lack access to regular electricity supply and have denied the benefit of renewable energy solutions.”

SERAP also expressed concern over the negative impact of a lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans on the social and economic well-being of millions of Nigerians. The letter pointed out that several states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) reportedly owe civil servants’ salaries and pensions, with some borrowing to pay salaries, thereby denying residents access to basic public goods and services.

The organization further criticized the federal and state governments for allegedly using public funds, including World Bank loans, for unnecessary expenditures such as lavish travels and luxury vehicles for politicians.

“The World Bank reportedly currently has a portfolio of about $8.5 billion spread across the country. The Bank has also approved several loans and other funding facilities to the country’s 36 states, including the recent $750 million credit line meant to the states to carry out reforms to attract investment and create jobs. The Bank recently approved a $2.25 billion loan for Nigeria ‘to shore up revenue and support economic reforms and address the cost-of-living crisis in the country,'” the letter added.

SERAP highlighted a specific case from September 2002, where the World Bank approved $129 million for the “Universal Basic Education Project” aimed at increasing the capacity of states and local governments to manage and implement the UBE program effectively and efficiently.

The organization urged the World Bank’s board of executive directors to ensure that the bank’s policies and decisions align with transparency and accountability obligations, reinforcing the need for a thorough investigation and review of all bank-funded projects in Nigeria.

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