By Agbonkhese Oboh

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has cautioned Lagos government against going ahead with any deal with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, IFC, saying it will ultimately mortgage the future of Lagos citizens with no positive result.

File photo: From left- Executive Director, Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Mr. Ayodele Akele; Deputy Director, Environmental Rights Action, Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, and Lagos State Chairman of Amalgamated Union of Public, Corporation, Technical, Recreational Employees, AUPCTRE, Mr. Opaleye Taiwo, at the briefing by Our Water Our Right Coalition on Lagos State PPP water projects. PHOTO: Agbonkhese Oboh

ERA/FoEN’s warning comes on the heels of the January 7 IFC and Lagos State Government announcement of a memorandum of understanding for the former to provide “advisory services” for infrastructure development across sectors, including power, transportation, municipal waste, health, education and energy efficiency.

According ti IFC Nigeria Country Manager, Eme Essien, the announcement “is only a first step in the building of a long term strategic partnership with the largest municipality in sub-saharan Africa,” and the IFC’s Cities Initiative will improve living conditions, expand and renew its infrastructure and help reinforce Lagos’s position as an attractive investment destination.

However,  in statement by Philip Jakpor, Head, Media & Campaigns, ERA/FoEN raised issues with the timing and the fact that contracts designed by or involving the IFC are most times fraught with booby traps and operate only to serve private interests and maximise private profit.

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It said a similar advisory arrangement by the IFC in the water sector was primed to open the doors for a dangerous Public Private Partnership, PPP, water privatisation scheme, but was abandoned in 2015 due to the resistance of Lagos residents led by the Our Water, Our Right Coalition.

Deputy Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “This is very disturbing will have long term implications. We anticipate the incoming government will review and roll back this deal.

“An agreement, which virtually asphyxiates all the sectors in the state, will ultimately be extended to a crucial sector such as water going by the IFC description that the deal is ‘the first step’. This is going to be a long windy road.

“It is not surprising that this deal between the World Bank and the state government was done without proper consultation with the people of Lagos State, and this is simply unacceptable.”

The new deal is coming less than a year after an unprecedented delegation of World Bank Executive Directors along with IFC Country Manager visited the state government.

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Oluwafemi noted: “ERA/FoEN, therefore, raises issues with the fact that while this new deal deliberately omits the mention of water, it is being implemented under the IFC’s Cities Initiative, which has specifically mentioned its focus on water, among other sectors.

“The IFC serves only private interests and will tie the state and its people down with contracts that will enslave generations. We are asking the incoming administration in Lagos to reject this deal and instead, channel Lagos’ huge human and financial resources into engendering the transformation its people desire.”

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