Chinua Achebe Centre Writes World Bank to Block Buhari’s $29.9Bn Loan Bid
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 Federal 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
“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.”
*News Express