President Muhammadu Buhari‘s request for the $800 million World Bank loan meant for the proposed fuel subsidy removal, which was postponed, has caused lots of comments among some groups of Nigerians who have described the act as suspicious.
Naija News reported on Wednesday that the president in a letter read by Senate President Ahmad Lawan at the plenary requested the Senate to approve the release of the loan.
Buhari in his letter said “The fresh $800m loan would be used to scale up the National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP) to assist poor and vulnerable Nigerians in coping with the costs of meeting basic needs
“You may wish to note that, the Federal Government of Nigeria under the conditional cash transfer window of the programme will transfer the sum of N5,000 per month to 10.2 million poor and low-income households for a period of six months with a multiplier effect on about 60 million individuals.
“In order to guarantee the credibility of the process, digital transfers will be made directly to beneficiaries’ accounts and mobile wallets.
“Given the above, I wish to invite the Senate to kindly approve an additional loan facility to the tune of USD 800 million to be secured from the World Bank for the National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP).”
However, reacting to the president’s new move, Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, queried why Buhari’s administration would request that money with barely 18 days to go in office.
Hassan told Daily Trust that “It is wrong for the outgoing administration to actually be burrowing a whopping $800m, 18 days to the end of the administration. How and when do they actually expect to spend this $800m?
“I think this is a set-up of failure for the incoming administration. It is more like they are strumming thorns in the pathway of the incoming administration for a country that is already overburdened with debt and is also planning to spend most of the revenue into servicing these debts.
“I am suspicious of this humongous amount of money that is being borrowed. It is more or less like a handout or parting gift to officials who served under the Buhari administration.”
Also reacting was the Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Dr Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, who said, “Most of the loans taken by the government were collected without proper scrutiny and oversight. It is unjustifiable that barely 18 days to the end of the tenure, the federal government wants to go ahead to plunge Nigeria into further unsustainable debt.
“In the same way the government postponed the National Census, CHRICED calls on the government to suspend this move to borrow more.”
On his part, Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group, Mallam Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, called on the Senate not to approve the fresh loan request as “It is very clear that it is not for public interest but an additional financial burden for the nation and its people.”
Rafsanjani, who is also the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Chief Executive Transparency International Nigeria, said the government must provide a convincing explanation on why it had run out of ideas to stop looting.
He said, “This government has spent over N7trn financing fraudulent fuels subsidy, which Nigerians have not benefited, but a few individuals within the government and their contractors; this is the view of the majority of Nigerians.
“The whole subsidy governance has no transparency and accountability or benefits for the ordinary citizens, it is simply a process of legitimising public money diversion as there is evidence on how this borrowed money has reduced the suffering of Nigerians.
“So, to borrow another money in the name of subsidy is a clear testimony of the desperation to further mismanage or steal public funds when this government has less than four weeks to go. Again, there is no any framework on how this $800m will be transparently distributed. This is against the backdrop that the government has announced continuation of subsidy, so, if you have withdrawn the subsidy, why are you planning to use it for palliative purposes? This is a very suspicious and dubious intention.”
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