Publish Nigeria’s Loan Details Since 1999—SERAP Tells Tinubu

April 14, 2024

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to publish copies of loan agreements obtained by the federal government since 1999.

The group in a statement issued on Sunday asked President Tinubu “to direct appropriate ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to provide our organization with copies of the loan agreements obtained by the governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari.”

According to the statement issued by its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the details must include how the loans were spent and the interest and other payments made on the credit facilities so far, which should be made public after an “independent audit.”

SERAP said it is demanding the details under the Freedom of Information request dated April 13, 2024, stressing that “No one should be able to pull curtains of secrecy around decisions on the spending of public funds which can be revealed without injury to the public interest. Democracy requires accountability and accountability requires transparency.”

It argued that, “Publishing copies of the agreements would prevent and combat waste, corruption, mismanagement, and abuse in the spending of public funds,” noting that, “Nigerians are entitled to information about what their government is doing in their name. This is part of their right to information.”

“Your government should make it possible for citizens to have access to the agreements and spending details to judge whether their government is working for them or not.”

“Publishing the agreements would demonstrate your oft-expressed commitment to openness in government and to promote accountability. It would also improve public accountability in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

“Publishing the agreements and spending details would allow the public to see how and on what these governments spent the loans and foster transparency and accountability.”

“The information may help to explain why, despite several billions of dollars in loans obtained by successive governments, millions of Nigerians continue to face extreme poverty and lack access to basic public goods and services,” it stated.

It noted that according to the Debt Management Office (DMO), the total public domestic debt portfolio for the country is N97.3 trillion ($108 billion). The Federal Government’s debt is N87.3 trillion ($97 billion).

“Nigeria paid $6.2 billion in 2019 as interest on loans while the country paid $6.5 as interest in 2018. Nigeria also paid $5 billion as interest on loans in 2017 while the country paid $4.4 billion as interest in 2016. For 2015, the interest paid on loans was $5.5 billion.”

“SERAP is seriously concerned that substantial parts of the loans obtained by successive governments since the return of democracy in 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for,” it said.

“We would therefore 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 your government to comply with our request in the public interest,” it warned.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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