The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has implored President Muhammadu Buhari to mandate full disclosure of CBN’s expenditure since 1999.
The SERAP wants Buhari to “provide spending details of the overdrafts and loans obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by the Federal Government since May 29, 2015.”
According to the statement, “this includes the total overdrafts, the projects on which the overdrafts have been spent; repayment of all overdrafts to date, as well as to clarify whether the $25bn (N9.7trn) overdraft reportedly obtained from the CBN is within the five-percent limit of the actual revenue of the government for 2020.”
The organization is also urging him to “provide details of spending of overdrafts and loans; obtained from the CBN by successive governments between 1999 and 2015.”
This was contained in the Freedom of Information request dated 6 March 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.
The organization said: “Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of CBN overdrafts and loans would promote prudence in debt management, reduce any risks of corruption and mismanagement, and help the government to avoid the pitfalls of excessive debt.”
SERAP said: “Disclosing details of CBN overdrafts and repayments would enable Nigerians to hold the government to account; for its fiscal management and also ensure that public funds are not diverted; thereby improving the ability of your government to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis. This means that the government would not have to choose between saving lives or making debt payments.”
The FoI, read in part: “SERAP is concerned about the growing level of debts by the Federal Government; and also the apparent lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of overdrafts and loans so far obtained from the CBN; as well as the repayments to date.”
“Also, the recent overdraft of $25.6bn (about N9.7trn) obtained from the CBN would appear to be above the five-percent limit of the actual revenue of the Federal Government for 2020, that is, N3.9trn, prescribed by Section 38(2) of the CBN Act 2007. SERAP notes that five-percent of N3.9trn is N197bn.”
The letter was 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; Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of CBN; as well as Ms. Patience Oniha, Director-General of the Debt Management Office.