Reject Buhari’s new $ 4 billion, € 710 million loan request – SERAP told NASS

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calls for a constitutional amendment on the debt ceiling,

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, urged the leadership of the National Assembly to reject President Muhammadu Buhari’s new request to borrow $ 4 billion and € 710 million until publication expenditure details of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015, by the government.

President Buhari recently sought approval from the National Assembly to borrow $ 4,054,476,863 billion and € 710 million, due to “emerging needs”. The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.

In an open letter dated September 18, 2021 from SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare to Senate Speaker Dr. Ahmad Lawan and House Speaker Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila

the organization expressed concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in spending on the loans that have been obtained, and the perceived reluctance or inability of the National Assembly, NASS, to vigorously exercise its constitutional obligations to verify the apparently “indiscriminate government borrowing.”

SERAP said: “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt and use the country’s scarce resources for mind-boggling and crippling debt service payments rather than better access. poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.

“The accumulation of excessive debt and unsustainable debt service are incompatible with the government’s international obligations to use the maximum available resources of the country to progressively achieve the realization of economic and social rights and access of Nigerians to services. basic audiences.

The letter read in part: “The country’s public debt has multiplied endlessly. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. The government has made no serious attempt to reduce the cost of governance.

“The leadership of the National Assembly should stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to secure limits on national debt and deficits.

“SERAP urges you to urgently propose a resolution and push for a constitutional amendment on the debt limit, with the aim of reducing national debt and deficits. This recommendation is fully consistent with the constitutional oversight functions and spending powers of the National Assembly, as well as the country’s international anti-corruption and human rights obligations.

“Indiscriminate borrowing has an effect on the full enjoyment of the economic and social rights of Nigerians. Spending a large portion of the country’s annual budget on debt servicing has limited the government’s ability to ensure poor and vulnerable Nigerians have access to minimal health care, education, clean water, and more. human needs.

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“If the National Assembly and its leaders fail to curb government borrowing and ensure transparency and accountability in public loan spending, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to force the National Assembly to shut down. fulfill its constitutional obligations.

“The National Assembly under your leadership has a constitutional responsibility to urgently address the country’s debt crisis, which is exacerbated by overspending on lavish allowances for senior officials, lack of transparency and accountability. , as well as the lack of political will to recover. billions of naira reported as missing or mismanaged by the Federation’s Office of the Auditor General. “

“The National Assembly should prevent the government from borrowing behind the backs of the people. Lack of information on the details of the specific projects on which the loans are spent and on the terms of the loans creates incentives for corruption and limits the ability of citizens to monitor the legality and compliance of loans with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), as well as holding the authorities to account.

“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed 35 trillion naira. The government has also reportedly postponed the maturity of currently guaranteed loans between 10 and 30 years. 11,679 trillion naira is said to be committed to servicing the debt, while only 8.31 trillion naira was spent on capital / development spending between 2015 and 2020. ”

SERAP argued that ensuring transparency and accountability in government loan spending and reducing the cost of governance would solve onerous debt service and improve the government’s ability to meet the country’s international obligations to use the debt. maximum resources available to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality health care and education.

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