The Chinua Achebe Center for Leadership and Development, CACLD, has advised the World Bank not to grant the $29.9 billion loan being requested by the Muhammadu Buhari-led government of Nigeria.
It warned against granting the loan request in a letter addressed to Dr. Jim Yong Kim, president, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD, in Washington-DC. The letter was signed by Ugochukwu Nwachukwu, executive director (operations), Matthew Mbanaja, public relations officer, and Samuel Ejiofor Esq., legal adviser.
The centre said it was in pursuit of its commitment to the protection of human rights and good governance in Nigeria and beyond, that it appealed to the body to reject the $29.9 billion loan request.
It stated that the Achebe Center is a not-for-profit organisation based in the US and established for the promotion of Human Rights and the advancement of good Governance and Democracy around the world. “Our current focus is on Nigeria. Our choice of Nigeria is based on our understanding of its history and the need to help the Nigerian people to forge a united country based on justice and equity and to peacefully reinstate true federalism in line with their terms of nationhood as enshrined in the nation’s Independence Constitution of 1960 and Republican Constitution of 1963,” the letter said.
The group also said the appeal to the bank not to accede to the Nigerian request for a $29.9 Billion facility is based on the grounds that the Government has not demonstrated reasonable level of accountability with the peoples of Nigeria as to guarantee that any loans received on their behalf will be judiciously applied to the purposes for which the loan was granted.
“You may recall,” the centre emphasised, “that earlier this year, the subsidy on petroleum products was removed by this government, leading to high cost of petroleum products and increased suffering and poverty among the people. It was argued by the government that moneys saved from the subsidy removal will be applied to the development of infrastructure. At this point in time, the people of Nigeria have neither received accountability on the revenues accrued from oil subsidy removal nor seen infrastructure developed as a consequence. It is ridiculous that the same government would turn around to seek a facility for the same purpose for which it removed the oil subsidies earlier this year.
“It might interest you to know that Nigerian news media are awash with news of billions of looted dollars recovered from former politicians. While we support every effort at checkmating corruption in the public service, we are of the view that such efforts must of necessity be transparent and in keeping with the rule of law and that funds so recovered be made public and applied to public good. So far, the Government of President Buhari has not accounted for these billions of dollars allegedly recovered from former public office holders. We find it queer and unacceptable that a government that has not demonstrated probity and accountability would be seeking a loan to be managed on behalf of the same people that it has never been accountable to.
“It is our firm belief that the work of the World Bank cannot be divorced from the overall commitment of building just and free societies anchored on basic rights and freedoms and the rule of law. The Present Government of Nigeria under President Buhari has demonstrated a lack of commitment to the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law. The Continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and several opposition politicians in flagrant disregard of court orders granting them bail or freedom is a testament to the authoritarian and undemocratic character of this government. The climax of this lawlessness was the recent midnight Gestapo style arrest of seven Nigerian Judges and the vandalisation of their residences by agents of the Government without a court warrant or an order sanctioning such arrest.
“Since the Biafran civil war, Nigerians have not witnessed this level of insecurity and extra-judicial killings in which the state and its agents are either being directly or indirectly accused of involvement. Any loan granted to this government by the World Bank or any international body would be seen as an endorsement of this authoritarian regime and an effort to strengthen its oppressive grip on the Nigerian people.
“Furthermore, except where endless indebtedness of a country means more profit to the lender, the principles of modern investment would require that the borrower show evidence of prudence/skill in financial management as well as reasonable institutional credibility before a lender could advance a loan. So far, this government has not shown any economic blueprint or policy aimed at promoting stability in the management of Nigerian economy. It would be unimaginable that a bank as reputable as the World Bank will offer a loan facility to Nigeria in its present state of political and economic dysfunction. Any loan given in this present circumstance would not be seen as help to the oppressed people of Nigeria but an attempt to mortgage economic survival of the future generation of the people of Nigeria.”
The Centre also stated: “Already, many ordinary Nigerians and institutions have rejected the loan. While many view the intended use of the loan as lacking in national spread, others see it as simply an anti-democratic and hegemonic agenda clothed in economic language. Many are rightly of the view that a loan of this magnitude, taken on behalf of Nigeria as a whole should be used for projects evenly spread among the various zones of Nigeria and that the purported planned use of the loan is not inclusive but designed to isolate South Eastern Nigeria because of the region’s dominance by an opposition party.
Hence, any loan granted to this regime could be interpreted by many as an alliance between the World Bank and an oppressive and discriminatory regime that has neither respect for democratic norms and the rule of law nor inclination to subscribe to modern approaches in national economic management.”
The Centre, however, commended the World Bank for its efforts in fighting poverty and improving the standards of living of people around the world. It said: “In contrast to your historically validated acts in this regard, this particular loan being sought will impoverish the people of Nigeria as there is no credible institutional structure to guarantee that it will be judiciously applied for the common good of the people. The widely reported cases of high level corruption and incompetence among cabinet members of President Buhari’s Government and the concomitant widespread poverty among Nigerians give credence to this assertion.
“In view of the above stated reasons, we once more appeal to you and the World Bank to reject any requests for Loan from the Nigerian Government under President Buhari until there is a demonstrable commitment to accountability, modern economic stabilisation policies, rule of law and the protection of the freedom and rights of the citizens of Nigeria. Your adherence to the principle that genuine development requires partnership not only with governments and companies, but also with civil society gives us the confidence that you will give appropriate consideration to the issues raised in this letter and save the future generation of Nigerians.”