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$114.28m World Bank Loan: SERAP Demands Public Scrutiny, Transparency In Spending

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Following World Bank’s approval of $114.28million credit and grant to fight Covid-19 in Nigeria, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the global financial institution to prevail on the federal and 36 state governors to accept voluntary scrutiny by Nigerians and civil society regarding the spending of the funds.
SERAP, in an open letter to the World Bank President, Mr. David Malpass, dated August 8, 2020, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, said “the Nigerian government must be made to publicly commit to transparency and accountability in the spending of the fund, including by publishing details on a dedicated website.
“Details of how they will spend the money to buy medical equipment, and improve access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, must also be made public”, SERAP demanded.
The World Bank Board of Directors, had last Friday, approved $114.28million financing “to help Nigeria prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by Covid-19 with a specific focus on state level responses.”
According to the bank, the $100million credit with Project ID number: P173980, is due to be paid back over 30 years, with additional five years grace period.
But SERAP in its letter said “The World Bank has a responsibility to ensure that federal authorities and state governments are transparent and accountable to Nigerians in how they spend the approved credit and grant.
“The bank should tread carefully in the disbursement of funds or distribution of resources to states if it is to reduce vulnerability to corruption and mismanagement.”
SERAP expressed “serious concerns that the money and resources may be stolen, diverted or mismanaged by state governors without effective transparency and accountability mechanisms, especially given increasing reports of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Covid-19 funds by agencies of the Federal Government and state governments, and impunity of perpetrators.”
SERAP said: “Insisting on transparency and accountability would ensure repayment of the credit, and protect the project objectives and intended purposes for which the funds and resources are approved, disbursed and distributed.”
According to SERAP, “The Bank’s power to provide credits and grants is coupled with a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that governments spending such funds meet international standards of transparency and accountability, including those entrenched in the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.”
The letter copied to the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, read in part: “Implementing these recommendations would prevent a repeat of alleged diversion and mismanagement of recovered Abacha loot disbursed by the Federal Government to state governments.
“The World Bank should make clear to all the governors that it will cancel the credit and grant should they renege on their transparency and accountability commitments to spend the money and use the resources exclusively for Covid-19 related projects, and not to steal, divert or mismanage them.”
“As the level of Federal Government monitoring of the spending of the credit and grant and use of the resources by state governors may be based on political considerations, the bank’s influence might be the only restraining force state governors will take seriously.
“SERAP encourages you and the World Bank in any future engagements with state governments in Nigeria to insist on accessing information on how governors are spending security votes, and the amounts of public funds states are allocating to pay former governors life pensions, among others, as well as consider the level of corruption within each state before approving any credits and grants.
“SERAP also encourages you and the World Bank not to sacrifice international standards of transparency and accountability in the rush to provide Covid-19 credit and grant to the 36 state governments.
“According to our information, the World Bank Board of Directors on Friday, August 7, 2020 approved $114.28million financing ‘to help Nigeria prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by Covid-19 with a specific focus on state level responses’.
“This includes $100million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) and $14.28million grant from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
“SERAP notes that the Government of Nigeria is expected to disburse the money and distribute the resources to the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) as ‘immediate support to break the chain of Covid-19 local transmission and limit the spread of Coronavirus through containment and mitigation strategies.’
“The approved money will also ‘help to finance federal procurements of medical equipment, laboratory tests, and medicines to be distributed to the states based on their needs, and to provide support to laboratories for early detection and confirmation; equipping and renovating isolation and treatment centres, including community support centres; and improving in patient transfer systems through financing of ambulances and training’.”
SERAP, therefore, urged Malpass and the World Bank to: “Disclose and widely publish the terms and conditions of the credit and grant, and the exact amount repayable by Nigeria in 30 years’ time, including the details of the interest, if any; and the consequences of Nigeria defaulting.
“To also ask President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor spending of the credit and grant by state governments; ask state governments to allow the media to freely report on their spending of the funds and use of the resources, and not to clampdown on journalists and the media in the exercise of their constitutional responsibilities to expose corruption and hold governments to account.
“To also ask state governments to explicitly commit to encouraging and protecting whistle-blowers as a way of ensuring that the funds and resources are not stolen, diverted or mismanaged; clarify if any, to the Bank’s knowledge and information, the credit and grant have been approved by Nigeria’s National Assembly pursuant to its constitutional duties, including its oversight functions under Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“Ensure increased transparency of sanctions and terms and conditions of the credit and grant to each state to enable Nigerians to ask questions as to the spending of the money and use of the resources from their state governments.”

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RSG Alerts On Orchestrated Media Campaign

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The Rivers State Government has raised alarm over alleged moves by some critics of the government to use selected media houses in the state to denigrate the state government.
A statement signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, yesterday, reads, “The Rivers State Government is aware of clandestine plans by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State to use selected media houses in the state to denigrate the government of Governor Nyesom Wike.
“This is as a result of the intimidating sterling performance of Governor Wike in infrastructure, healthcare, education, agriculture, rural transformation, housing development, administration of justice, social welfare and sports development.
“This orchestrated campaign spearheaded by a defeated and dumped governorship aspirant of the APC, Dr. Dakuku Peterside is designed to portray the government of Governor Wike as one that is not meeting the developmental aspirations of Rivers people.
“However, the uncommon transformation of the 23 local government areas as witnessed during the last six years of projects commissioning and flag off shows clearly that Governor Wike is actually meeting the yearnings of the people.
“The fact that Rivers people that turn out en mass at the various projects sites to heartily welcome their beloved governor and his guests drawn from all political divides is a clear indication that Rivers people can no longer be swayed by cheap politically induced blackmail.
“The truth of the matter is that the APC government that boasted that Governor Wike will not see money to pay workers’ salaries and execute projects has been humbled by the revolution in governance currently witnessed in the state.
“Instead of people like Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his acolytes to eat the humble pie, they are busy looking for cheap popularity through sponsored appearances in the media.
“No matter how hard these detractors push their propaganda, Governor Wike will never be distracted in executing his social contract with the people of Rivers State.
“In the next few weeks, more projects that have direct bearing to the lives of Rivers people will be unveiled.
“Governor Wike’s promise to continue working as if this is his first tenure and not abandon any project remains sacrosanct.
“Rivers people are watching those whose stock in trade is to dance naked and pray that they continue as merchants of mischief, falsehood and baseless allegations.”
“The people of Rivers State love Governor Wike whose outstanding achievements in salvaging the state from the dearth of basic infrastructural development required for speedy socioeconomic transformation has received national and international applause.
“Therefore, no amount of negative propaganda by the failed APC can diminish the legacy of Governor Wike in Rivers State.
“Rather than launder the thoroughly battered image of the APC, such media appearances by Dr. Dakuku Peterside and his cohorts will further expose APC’s penchant for lies and deception which is now a public knowledge.
“The former governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili, has confirmed that Governor Wike is the best Rivers State has produced.
“’I have been there. And I make bold to say Governor Nyesom Wike, you are the best,’ Dr. Odili said.
“Odili’s comment serves as an answer to those masquerading as informed commentators with puerile and suffocating commentaries”, the statement added.

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Bandits In Trouble As Super Tucano Aircraft Arrives

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The first batch of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft has arrived in Kano, yesterday, at about 12.34 pm.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, confirmed the arrival of the fighter aircraft in a statement.
“On hand to receive the aircraft were the Hon. Minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd); Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Farouk Yahaya; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao”, he said.

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We’ve No Patience With Failure, Oyedepo Lashes Out At Sacked Pastors

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The General Overseer and Founder of The Living Faith Church International also known as Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, has reacted to the recent sack of over 40 pastors by the church.
One of the affected Pastors, Peter Godwin, took to social media, claiming they were sacked for not generating enough income.
Godwin, who was in one of the church’s branches in Ekiti State, had claimed, “I was told by the management that the church doesn’t operate at a loss.
“They also told me that the total income that is being generated from my station should be able to cater for my welfare and accommodation, so as a result of low income, I’m hereby dismissed.”
Reacting to the allegation in a video posted on the social media, Oyedepo said the sack of the pastors was not about money, adding that the latter were sacked as a result of their failure and the church “has no patience with failure.
“Money? Nonsense! We have never lacked it, and yet, we have never prayed for it.
“We are just simply obeying God, and He is backing up what He is asking us to do. Awesome God,” he noted.
On those criticising the sack, the GO said, “People are confused about our ministry. I learnt some fellows said, you know, they are not bringing income, that is why they asked them to go”.
He added, “We asked you to go because you are unfruitful. Unfruitful! Blatant failure. Doing what there? We have no patience with failure here.
“When we employed 7,000 people at a time, social media was dead.
“We have more employees in this organisation than most of the states. No one is owed a dime salary and we don’t borrow, we don’t beg. Ask our bank whether we take overdraft.
“We are covenant bound, working in the light of God’s word, enjoying an open Heaven.”

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