Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to “provide information on the spending of N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013, and to introduce a moratorium on borrowing.”
The organization said it would take legal action should the government not provide the information within 14 days.
In the letter dated 27 May 2013, signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni and sent to the Accountant – General of the Federation, Mr. Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla, the organization said that, “whereas the government has borrowed over N6.54tn from national sources and its external borrowing is growing, there is no evidence on the ground to show that the huge sums of money have been put to good use to benefit millions of economically and socially vulnerable Nigerians. In fact, we fear the money could have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen.
“Despite this huge borrowing, the same period also witnessed decreased spending on basic social services such as roads, electricity, health, education, and thus explaining in part why the government has lagged behind in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. We are further concerned about the country’s growing debt problem because this will continue to weaken the capacity of this government to fulfil its human rights obligations and commitment, thus throwing millions of Nigerians deeper into poverty,” the organization also said.
The organization relied heavily on “the statement by the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, that government increased its borrowing in securities by N700bn between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013, and that the government has spent more than N2tn in four months.”
“SERAP is seriously concerned about this high level of spending by the government within this short period of time, especially given the fact that government borrowed almost the same amount between 2011 and 2012. Unless a moratorium on debt borrowing and periodic transparent audits of debt are introduced, the current unsustainable debt situation will continue to jeopardise the well-being of not only the present generation but also the future generation,” the organization also said.
The organization is relying on Sections 1 (1); 4 (a); and 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011, for its request.
According to the organization, “The information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act. The information requested for, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FOI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.”
“The disclosure of the information requested will give SERAP and the general public a true picture and a clear understanding of how the spending of the sums of money borrowed have impacted on the lives of the ordinary, common, poor and indigent and other disadvantaged Nigerians,” the organization said.
SERAP therefore asked the government to provide information on: The amount that has been spent from the N700bn borrowed between December 31, 2012 and April 30, 2013; and Details of projects on which this money was spent.