Disclose all loans obtained so far or face legal action, Falana-led coalition tells Buhari's govt/ Falana

Alliance for Surviving COVID-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), a coalition of over 70 labour and civil society organisations (CSOs), has threatened to take legal action against the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration if it fails to publicly disclose all the loans obtained so far.

In a statement signed by Femi Falana, its chairman, Ayuba Wabba, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Quadri Olaleye, president of Trade Union Congress (TUC), the group called on the National Assembly to disclose the terms and conditions of all external loans.

ASCAB added that it would challenge the government in court if its request is not granted.

It also questioned the rationality behind the present administration's penchant for taking loans when such had not translated into any meaningful development in the country.

The group said it was unfortunate that Nigeria's debt profile “which was N12.118 trillion as at May 2015 has leapt to N27.401 trillion in 2019, representing more than 100 percent debt increase”.

The statement read: “The country’s level of poverty continues to increase with the skyrocketing loans obtained by the federal government. Poverty, extreme hunger, frivolous lifestyle of public office holders continue to fuel violence and public disorder across the country.

“Why the government has responded effectively to the needs of public officials including members of the national assembly, the economic and social needs of the people remain a mirage.”

ASCAB claimed that within a year, the National Assembly had approved a total of $28 billion for Buhari.

The statement continued: “Millions of Nigerians continue to face harsh economic difficulties, lacking access to basic needs, yet the debt profile of the country continues to increase.

“It is even more grievous that the government continues to take loans on behalf of the people without their consent neither their keen understanding of the terms."

Citing section 21(1) of the debt management office establishment (ETC) act, 2003, the group said “The opaque nature of the loans is against the principles of the Nigerian constitution.

“Instead of grandstanding over the matter, the members of the National Assembly ought to apologise to the Nigerian people and proceed to scrutinise the terms and conditions of all other external loans.

“The loans taken by Nigeria from China raised public outcry last week when a clause that was alleged to have compromised Nigeria’s sovereignty was discovered.

“According to the Debt Management Office, the total value of loans taken by Nigeria from China as at March 31, 2020, was $3.121 billion, an indication that the Chinese loan is some 3.94% of Nigeria’s total public debt of $79.303 as at March 31, 2020, while external sources of funds, loans from China accounted for 11.28% of the external debt profile of $27.67 at the same date. be paid in 20 years with moratorium of seven years.”