A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has warned the Federal Government against obtaining loan from the World Bank to finance the 2016 budget.
The Federal Government had disclosed plan to borrow $2.5bn from the World Bank and another $1bn from the African Development Bank.
But Falana, who wrote to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Friday, argued that there was no need to obtain $3.5bn loan to finance the budget when the Federal Government could recover about $66.5bn it was being owed.
The lawyer urged the Federal Government to drop its proposition to obtain World Bank loan, noting that it required the endorsement of the International Monetary Fund, which he said, usually imposed stringent conditions on borrowing countries.
He lamented that the debt profile of the country had now grown to $64bn after it took much effort in 2005 for the country to exit the London/Paris Club after struggling to repay a loan of $12.4bn.
Falana urged the Federal Government to make effort to recover the over $66.5bn accruable to it, rather than obtain loan to finance the budget.
According to him, part of the said $66.5bn was the sum of $20.2bn in form of underpayment/underassessment of taxes, royalties, levies and rents, which a former Executive Secretary of the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, called on the Federal Government to recover.
Falana also recalled that there was about $11bn which the Central Bank of Nigeria injected into the banking industry between 2006 and 2008 as bailout to commercial banks, which had yet to be recovered.
Besides these, Falana also recalled that the Federal Government had on September 6, 2015 announced that the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation was in the process of recovering the sum of $9.6bn in “over deducted tax benefits from joint venture partners on major capital projects and the legacy OPA/SWAP oil contracts.”
He also made reference to the $750m of the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s loot, which the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), said arrangements had been concluded on it to recover.
Finally, he also recalled that the a recent probe by the Senate revealed that the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria had accumulated about $25bn which, according to AMCON’s Managing Director, Ahmed Kuru, was owed by “big men who fly in private jets, live in big mansions and they have taken money and they are not paying back.”
Falana said, “From the foregoing, you will agree with us that the hapless Nigerian people should not be made to pay for the gross mismanagement of the national economy by the Federal Government and the profligacy of the pampered members of the ruling class.
“Instead of taking a loan of $2.5bn with dangerous conditionalities from the World Bank, the Federal Government should recover the aforesaid loans and revenues of not less than $66.5bn with the assistance of the anti-graft agencies.
“While acknowledging the concerted efforts to recover the looted wealth of the nation through the anti-graft agencies and the Arms Procurement Panel, the Buhari Administration should embark on the immediate recovery of the aforesaid loans and accrued revenues with a view to financing the 2016 budget and the infrastructural development of the nation.”