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SERAP Asks World Bank To Probe Alleged Corruption In Spending Of Loans Obtained By FG, States

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the World Bank Inspection Panel to probe allegations of corruption in the spending of the loans and other funding facilities obtained by the Federal Government and Nigeria’s 36 state governors.

The organisation is also urging the panel to review the implementation of all bank-funded projects by successive governments since 1999.

SERAP further wants the panel to determine the extent to which bank management has followed or is following the World Bank’s operational policies and procedures applicable to the design, appraisal and implementation of all bank-financed projects in Nigeria.

Additionally, the civic rights group is urging the panel to determine the effect of any failure by the bank management to effectively implement its operational policies and procedures in all bank-funded projects in several states on the social and economic rights and well-being of millions of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians.

This follows a report by the Debt Management Office (DMO) last week, which indicated that Nigeria’s total public debt stock, including external and domestic debts, increased by N24.33trn in three months alone, from N97.34trn ($108.23 billion) in December 2023 to N121.67trn ($91.46 billion) as of March 31, 2024.

In a letter dated June 22, 2024 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the World Bank has over the years reportedly approved 197 projects for Nigeria, totalling over $36bn in loans and other funding facilities, with little or no impact on Nigerians living in poverty.

According to SERAP, despite several loans and other funding facilities provided by the World Bank over the years, millions of Nigerians continue to lack access to regular electricity supply and other renewable energy solutions.

The complaint, addressed to the Chair of the Panel, read in part: “Many years of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds including the spending of the loans and facilities obtained by the Federal Government and Nigeria’s 36 states have contributed to widespread poverty, underdevelopment and lack of access to public goods and services in the country.”

“The allegations of corruption in the loans and facilities provided by the Bank calls into question the rigor with which the Bank undertook due diligence in assessing the social, economic and environmental risks of its financed-projects in the country.”

“The apparent inadequacy of safeguards and accountability mechanisms for the loans, facilities and project implementation has resulted in the alleged diversion of public funds for other purposes other than those agreed with the Bank.”

“The Bank has apparently failed and/or neglected to effectively apply its various operational policies and procedures to ensure the transparent and accountable spending of its 197 loans and facilities across several states in the country.

“SERAP has over the years sent several complaints to the World Bank about the lack of transparency and accountability in the loans and facilities and the projects financed by the World Bank loans but the Bank Management has consistently failed and/or neglected to take any concrete action on the complaints.”

“SERAP believes that we have exhausted attempts to resolve our complaints through several communications with Bank Management.”

“The harms suffered by millions of socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians as a result of the alleged corruption in the spending of loans and funding facilities provided by the Bank amount to violations of human rights guaranteed under the human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.”

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