In light of the $3.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Nigeria, a coalition of civil society organisations in Nigeria are urging the federal government to judiciously make use of these funds for their intended purposes of strengthening the country healthcare system, creating socio-economic safety nets, and supporting small and medium scale enterprises.
The group which included Oxfam in Nigeria, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), BudgIT and Connected Development (CODE), welcomed the loan as the much-needed response to the government’s request for assistance in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. They, however, demanded transparency and efficient disbursement of the loan.
With Oxfam’s analysis showing that the current pandemic could set back the fight against poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, the Country Director, Constant Tchona, said, ‘Even before the ongoing pandemic, poverty and inequality levels were unacceptably high in Nigeria. Both the FGN and IMF, therefore, need to ensure that these funds are directed towards meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in society especially women, children, internally displaced persons, and rural communities’.
The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Ibrahim, in his remarks, said, ‘To ensure full transparency, openness, and accountability in the application of this loan to serve the people who need it most, we urge both government and IMF to take a step further and support the creation of a civil society network to contribute to monitoring the disbursement of the funds’.
Concerning the country’s debt obligations, the group calls for immediate cancellation of all payments owed by Nigeria to bilateral, international financial institutions and commercial lenders that are due in 2020. ‘This will allow the Nigerian [g]overnment the needed fiscal space to save lives, fight the pandemic and resuscitate the flagging economy’, they said.
Source: Daily Trust
Photo source: Oxfam International