“We express concerns about the massive and growing national debts, and the negative impacts on socio-economic development as well as access of Nigerians to public goods and services, including quality education, adequate healthcare, clean water, and regular electricity supply,” SERAP said.
The organisation is also urging Buhari to set up an independent audit of all loans to resolve any allegations of mismanagement and corruption and to publish spending details of loans obtained by successive administrations since 1999, list of countries and bodies that have given the loans, and specific repayment conditions.
“While access to loans can provide indispensable resources, the mismanagement and squandering of any such resources would be counter-productive.
“Nigerians should no longer be made to repay debts incurred in their name but which have not benefited them in any manner, shape or form.”
SERAP noted that any unresolved allegations of mismanagement, bribery and corruption in the use of loans would continue to deprive millions of Nigerians access to basic public goods and services, and leave the government without the resources to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
“We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.
“We urge you to ensure that those suspected to be responsible for any mismanagement and corruption are promptly referred to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for further investigation, and where there is relevant admissible evidence, prosecution.
“Transparency and accountability in the spending details of all the loans that have so far been obtained by your government, and those obtained by previous administrations would mean that the loans can help Nigeria to overcome its acute development challenges, reduce the possibility of mismanagement and corruption.
“It would also help to avoid a morally repugnant result of visiting the sins of corrupt governments and officials on innocent Nigerians.
“We also urge you to promptly instruct Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the spending of all loans obtained since the assumption of office in May 2015,” SERAP said.
In the FoI request copied to Mr Abukabar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; and Ms Patience Oniha, Director-General of the Debt Management Office, SERAP is urging Buhari to disclose details of the spending of loans, specific details of projects and locations of the projects as well as the conditions of the projects.
In addition, SERAP demands whether any public officials solicited and/or received bribes in the negotiations for any of the loans