The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Projects (SERAP) have called on the World Bank to initiate an investigation into the loans acquired by the 36 state governors in Nigeria, urging an immediate suspension of further loans until a transparent account is provided for the utilization of previous funds. SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare emphasized the need for accountability, particularly as some states face scrutiny over excessive running costs.
In a letter addressed to World Bank President Ajay Banga, SERAP expressed deep concerns about the escalating debt profiles of the states, alleging mismanagement and diversion of public funds. The group argued that extending further loans without a clear understanding of past expenditures would be irresponsible.
“The World Bank and its partners cannot continue to give loans and other funding to these states where there are credible allegations of mismanagement or diversion of public funds,” stated SERAP. The rights group warned of potential legal action against the World Bank and the 36 states if an investigation is not initiated.
SERAP emphasized the risk of mismanagement or diversion of funds linked to the World Bank’s investments in many of the country’s states, posing a challenge to responsible lending. The group cited Nigeria’s Debt Management Office, which reports a total public debt portfolio of N9.17 trillion for the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
The rights group called on the World Bank to exercise its legal powers by sending independent monitors to states that have received loans, ensuring transparency and accountability in fund utilization. SERAP also urged the World Bank to obtain a commitment from the governors to address allegations of mismanagement and prevent loans from funding politicians’ luxurious lifestyles.
“The bank has a legal responsibility to ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice and that any mismanaged or diverted public funds are returned to the treasuries of the states,” SERAP emphasized, stressing the World Bank’s obligation to uphold compliance with Nigerian laws and constitutional provisions.