COVID-19 Grants: SERAP Says World Bank Should Seek Accountability From Nigeria

Moses Ofodeme

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP), on Sunday, August 9, forwarded an open letter to the World Bank President Mr David Malpass; urging him to prompt the Federal Government as well as 36 state governments to publicly commit to transparency and accountability.

This relates to the spending of the $114.28m credit as well as grant for COVID-19, which the Bank’s Board of Directors recently approved for Nigeria, including by publishing details on a dedicated website.

SERAP also urged Mr Malpass to “put pressure on authorities and the 36 state governors to accept voluntary scrutiny by Nigerians and civil society regarding the spending of the funds and use of the resources, including on how they will spend the money to buy medical equipment, and improve access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene.”

World Bank Board of Directors had approved a $114.28 financing “to help Nigeria prevent; detect and also respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 with a specific focus on state-level responses.”

According to the Bank, the $100 million credit is due to be paid back over 30 years; with an additional five years grace period.

In the letter dated 8 August 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization 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.”

The letter copied to Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, 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.”

Also,

“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.

“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.”

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