By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The ActionAid Nigeria, AAN, has called for close watch on outgoing governors’ borrowings who are almost completing their second term in 2023.
The alarm was raised Deputy Chairman, Board of AAN, Mac Imoni Amarere, in Abuja, while the General Assembly of AAN addressed journalists on state of the nation.
Amarere called on anti-graft agencies to closely monitor the governors and their aides in order to forestall any movement of money to accounts of their cronies.
Adding to what Amarere said, the Country Director, AAN, Ene Obi, said, “When Nigeria was owing in the past and they keep borrowing, what do they use the money in past?
“Most of our money is being used for debt servicing, borrowing for what we don’t even have a say; look at the collapse of infrastructure, the roads, which our smallholder farmers, whose secretariat we host does not have roads, and the decay of infrastructure.
“The worse thing is that these facilities they are getting even give them moratorium, which some go for 10 years moratorium, so save yourself, and a lot of borrowing still going on, and owing a lot of workers.”
Ene also pointed that debt profile of all tiers of government, particularly, of state and federal governments is worrisome as the World Bank indicated that due to high borrowing and debt profile, Nigeria might not have a budget again.
She lamented that the current debt profile mortgages the future of born and unborn Nigerians, which is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, the Convener, AAN General Assembly, Hassana Yahaya Bello, who read the address on State of the nation, blasted Federal Government for nosediving economy, unjustifiable borrowings, hyper inflation, soaring exchange rate, high food prices, increasing cost of goods and services, folding businesses, unabating hunger and diseases, millions of Nigerians falling into poverty, rising unemployment rate, upsurge in killings, kidnappings, gender based violence, drug abuse, corruption, and other vices.
Bello also accused government of paying lip service to the fight against corruption and the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, and its negative impact on students and economy.
Meanwhile, she decried outcome of party primaries recently conducted, which she mentioned that only one female aspirant emerged governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Adamawa State.
She said, “Following the conduct of primary elections by political parties, we note with concern the unrestricted use of huge sums of money to influence delegates to win nominations for the 2023 General Elections.
“In some cases, unsuccessful aspirants are said to have asked for refunds. This ugly development casts a shadow on Nigeria’s democracy. It means that the next administration is being built on a shaky foundation if nothing is done to change this narrative.
“The outrageous cost of expression of interest and nomination forms by political parties for the primaries amid the debilitating poverty in the country is insensitive and condemnable.
“Moreso, women’s exclusion remains evident in Nigeria’s political landscape; only one female candidate emerged for the governorship position in the Northeast (Adamawa State) under the APC platform.
“The current ASUU strike might be the longest in history if urgent steps are not taken. From 1999 when Nigeria transitioned to democracy, to 2022, university teachers have gone on nationwide strikes 16 times, covering 51 months.
“The unabating insecurity in the country poses a drawback to the progress being made by Nigeria in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Assembly also had in attendance the Board Chair, AAN, Dr Jummai Umar-Ajijola; and James Milaham.
Umar-Ajijolah called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to seize the current momentum by citizens who are trooping out to register by considering extension of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration, CRV, by at least 60 days to give prospective voters the opportunity to exercise their franchise during the 2023 elections.
“It is important to restore the quality of the educational system that graduated most of the politicians and exceptional working-class citizens Nigeria boasts of today and attract students from different parts of the world.
“To end insecurity, the Nigerian government should decentralise the Police Force, encourage and invest in community policing, and leverage advanced ICT to combat crime and criminality.
“INEC should move swiftly to address the menace of bribe-for-vote or vote trading by innovating ways to monitor, detect and curb “delegate buying” during political party primaries.
“To end the exclusion of women in governance, ActionAid reiterates the need for the Nigerian National Assembly to substantiate its commitment to gender equality by re-presenting and re-considering, not just three (3), but all the five (5) proposed Gender Bills in the 5th Constitution Alteration Bills.
“Nigerian women deserve a constitution that guarantees: a minimum of 111 seats for women in the national assembly; Indigeneship, citizenship, 35% in political party leadership, and more appointive positions for women.”
The recommendation also demanded that, “Nigeria has an ailing economy sustained through unabated borrowing.
“Rising public debt, unemployment, inflation, and high cost of living require the immediate embrace of fiscal federalism in absolute terms.
“This will enable the country to break the vicious cycle of poverty. It will eliminate the wholesale dependence on oil, which makes Nigeria a monolithic economy.
“Adopting fiscal federalism principles will be practical approach to solving the challenges governments at all levels face today, such as the generation and equitable distribution of income, efficient and effective allocation of resources, and economic stability.
“Revenue drive and allocation of resources can be done effectively by states and local governments with strong measures to curtail graft and corruption.”