February 24, 2024

CSOs to NASS: Probe FG’s $3.4bn COVID-19 loan, subsidy savings, others

State Police: Nigerians’ll get the Police Service they deserve — Senate

Senate President, Akpabio

•Urges NASS to address revenue shortfalls, Nigeria’s Foreign debt may climb to N107.38 trillion in 2024

The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called on the National Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, probe the $3.4 billion loan collected by the Federal Government from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2020 without proof of spending it on anything.

According to them, they should carry out a holistic probe into the movement and spending of loans received by the past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, just as they called on the National Assembly to address Nigeria’s revenue shortfalls, raising the alarm that indicators of foreign and domestic debts portend dangers for the nation as they rise to N107.38 trillion in 2024.

The group also kicked against ceaseless requests for loans by the Federal Government and expeditious approvals given by the National Assembly with little or nothing to point at as to what the loans were used for, adding that savings made by the government from fuel subsidy removal from May last year till date have not been accounted for by the government as Nigerians are watching and suffering.

Addressing journalists on Friday in Abuja, the nine CSOs, led by the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, alleged that the incessant loan collections by the FG made the debt profile of the country presently stand at N87.9 trillion, which is equivalent to $114.3 billion.

Other CSOs represented at the media briefing by their executive directors were the Centre for Democracy and Development, the International Budget Partnership, the Paradigm Leadership Support Initiative, Oxfam, Social Action, Christian Aid, and ActionAid, among others.

Auwal Rafsanjani stressed that there was a need for the parliament to come up with what he described as sound economic reforms and balancing that would pave the way for significant investment in critical sectors that impact vulnerable citizens.

He said: “The escalating debt burden has profound implications for the well-bbeing of Nigerian citizens, and failure to act quickly could result in an additional 23 million Nigerians living in poverty and 80 million working-aage citizens without a full-time job by 2030.

“We thus request that, as a matter of urgency, the National Assembly commit to investigating the movement and spending of loans received by the Federal Government in the past and present administrations, including but not limited to the $3.4 billion loan obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as reported in the 2020 annual audited report published by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

“Revising legal and institutional frameworks related to debt management, emphasizing transparency and accountability. This includes accelerating the amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) of 2007.

“Redefining the purpose of incurring debts in clear terms of debts being for projects that will promote value chain development, improve the macroeconomic framework, develop infrastructure, and build strategic human capital.”

Taking a swipe at the growing debt overhang that has precipitated an economic crisis for the nation, CISLAC expressed fears that a substantial part of foreign debt was owed by private creditors, with a loan repayment percentage standing between 6 and 9 percent with a shorter repayment period.

Auwal Rafsanjani said, “These revenue shortfalls have created budget deficits that have precipitated our debt crisis and have grown our external debt by 1,333% from the level it was after the Paris Debt buy-back deal in 2005/06.

“As of June 2023, Nigeria’s total debt portfolio stood at N87.9 trillion ($114.3 billion) and will climb to N107.38 trillion in 2024, following recent approvals by the National Assembly.