Nigeria’s National Assembly must say “no” to $1 billion-Plus Chinese loan to rehab Boko Haram-damaged NE – Tola Adenle

May 2, 2017

Nigeria

I was not going to write any story about Nigeria’s latest borrowing spree because I have, over many years even before the birth of this blog six years ago, been writing about the pace and depth of Nigeria’s debt profile. I first read the story a few days ago of the president’s request for the National Assembly for a loan of over $6 billion. Of this massive new borrowing most of which Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly stated is $5 billion-Plus “for railways”and $1.075 billion is to “help rebuild the northeast, which has been ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency, and to expand support to the poor in Nigeria.” [Emphasis is mine, and I’ll come to that shortly.]

A couple of days ago, Reuters’ report of the story was waiting in my Inbox from one of this blog’s followers who lives in Europe. It changed my mind.

First, on “helping rebuild the northeast”, this is, once again, a clear backdoor to channeling financial resources to the North, especially when other areas in southern part of the country struck by calamities never get a once-over to qualify for this kind of generous handout from the common purse. None would complain about the central government in aiding to rebuild schools through special allocation but –

  1. How much of the $1.075 billion is for rehab of public institutions like schools?
  2. What percentage of the amounts needed is being contributed by states affected by BH Islamic terrorism?
  3. What happened to the billions already received?

Next, what is the nebulous stealthy expansion of support to the poor in Nigeria about because I recall Nigeria’s way-over-her-head in the brief her job demands Finance Minister once listed a monthly payment of N5,000 to the poor or such as part of money to be borrowed about two years ago to end a recession which she – and Information Minister – claimed would be over within months?

While the catastrophe wreaked by Islamic terrorists in Northeastern Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized, donor agencies and some countries have given generously towards the devastation, and while those efforts may fall short of needed funding, the fact that several parts of the country are suffering from infrastructure decay, environmental devastation and years of corruption-caused neglect and the usual hunger resulting from poverty, singling out a part of the North points to the same sectionalism that has seemed the goal of Buhari’s presidency.

Before stating why I believe there’s no need for Chinese loan tagged to the Railways loan to “rebuild” BH-devastated NE, here is the most recent display of the lopsidedness that has characterized Buhari’s government;t it shows 19 (nineteen) Northern states took a very lopsided 331 of 479 new recruits into the country’s SSS:

Akwa Ibom [Nigeria’s largest oil producer] – 5

Abia, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, FCT, Lagos & Rivers – 7 each

Adamawa – 19

Anambra & Osun – 10 each

Bauchi – 23

Benue, Cross River, Enugu, Ondo & Plateau – 9 each

Borno, Kebbi & Taraba – 16 each

Delta & Ogun – 8 each

Edo – 6

Ekiti & Yobe – 12 each

Imo, Kogi, Nassarawa, Niger & Oyo – 11 each

Jigawa & Gombe – 14 each

Kaduna – 24

Kano     – 25

Katsina  – 51

Kogi

Kwara – 13

Sokoto – 15

Zamfara – 20

 

SUMMARY: according to the Six Geo-political Zones

North West                                          165/479             =  34.45%

North East                                            100/479             =  20.88%

North Central                                       71/479              =  14.82%

South West                                          57/479              =  11.9%

South East                                            44/479              =  9.19%

South South                                         42/479              =  8.77%

The scandalous list of appointees from each state does not differ from what has happened in other agencies controlled by the central government under Buhari administration. This becomes even more serious when viewed against the serious problem of lack of employment for university graduates in the country and is unpardonable when the fact is out there that graduates who benefit in these recruitment drives come from states – and zones – with the least number of university graduates.

At the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) a year ago, for example, the recruitment of candidates did not reflect federal character of the country as enshrined in the Constitution to scandalous proportions.

First, the Federal Character Commission (FCC) granted waiver for 513 people to be employed without recourse to advertisement as required by FCC Law. Worse, the CBN arbitrarily raised the number to 909 but the stench went deeper; nepotism of unimaginable level was apparent when news reports gave names of prominent people to whom many of those recruited are related.

Those who bear the brunt of Nigeria’s belt-tightening the most, those who contribute the most get the least when it’s sharing of the country’s common wealth.

Most of the beneficiaries of the CBN recruitment exercise were children, relations, and such others of top government officials. Then, as the SSS exercise now has gone, nothing came of it despite outcries in the press.

Here is a glimpse of the CBN’s charade that went as recruitment of graduates based on “federal” character: the nephew of President Buhari; son of Danbazzau who is Buhari’s Minister of Internal Affairs; a daughter of Atiku who was Obasanjo’s vice-president, son of Kachikwu, Petroleum Minister, and many others.

Why it would be a travesty as well as a breach of Federal Character Law for the NE to be a Beneficiary of a “BH reconstruction” loan funded by the “Federal” Govt.

 Before the new loan that seeks the approval of the National Assembly, the following is a list that makes me wonder what the NE states’ contributions to the reconstruction of infrastructure would be with all the following local and external donations and pledges:

  • Starting from right home in Nigeria, President Jonathan announced at a fund-raising dinner at Abuja on Thursday, July 31, 2014 a donation on behalf of the “Federal” Government of N10 billion of the reported total N60 billion collected and pledged that day for “Victims of Terror Support Fund”.

While the Fund was to support terror victims “across Nigeria”, reports of the event tend to focus on the Boko Haram terrorists“Over 13,000 people have been killed in attacks by the Boko Haram sect while hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and thousands of property destroyed”.  [By the way, Nigeria would later turn around to reject the label of “terrorism” on BH.]

Here are some of the donors at Abuja who donated or pledged foreign & local currencies to the Fund:

Theophilus Danjuma, $10 million; Aliko Dangote, N1 billion; Jim Ovia, N1 billion; Tony Elumelu, N2.5 billion; Mike Adenuga, N1 billion; Wale Tinubu, N1 billion; Arthur Eze, $5 million; Mohammed Ndimi, $5 million; Kabiru Rabiu, N500 million; Dahiru Mangal N500 million; and Folorunsho Alakija, N500 million.

Others include a group of oil sector players, N17 billion; bankers N15 billion, telecom sector players N1 billion; state governors, N3.7 billion; and ministers, N50 million.

The Victims Support Fund is to be managed by a committee headed by Mr. Danjuma, a former Army chief and one of Nigeria’s richest men. [Source: premiumtimesng.com]

As stated, above was in 2014, three years ago. Whatever happened to all those donations and pledges, or did people/institutions renege? There were many others then, and later:

  • Aliko Dangote pledged to donate $10 million a year ago as reported by the BBC. This was in addition to $6 million he had reportedly donated earlier which was confirmed by the office of the Borno State’s governor:

“Usman Kumo, media assistant to Borno’s governor, told the BBC Hausa service that as far as he was aware Mr Dangote had fulfilled his previous promises.”  [http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-36255482; May 10, 2016]

  • Between 2015 and 2016, the United States U.S. Embassy in a statement at Abuja announced “$30 million to support the people of north-east Nigeria, where years of brutality by Boko Haram and other militant groups has created a dire humanitarian crisis.” The donation, which was described as “additional”, supposedly “brought the total U.S. humanitarian contribution in Nigeria to more than $298 million since October 2015” and added that “the U.S. had provided more than $452 million for people affected by the ongoing crisis.”

I guess the following amounts are probably encapsulated in the two items I also found in news reports: U.S. provides $92.7 million to reduce poverty in Nigeria – a news report dated October 2016 & U.S. provides N8.7bn assistance to IDPs in North-East – an item dated June 2015.

HERE ARE SOME OTHERS

  • The American University of Nigeria (AUN) {owned by former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, is located in Adamawa State which is in the NE}. The institution is reportedly in partnership with the Adamawa Peace Initiative, and has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the Boko Haram-created refugee crisis in northeast Nigeria. The United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) announced an $801,000 grant to support AUN’s project to educate IDPs. The group had earlier launched a One Billion Naira Insurgency

AND AT OSLO, NORWAY in February this year, there was a big conference towards getting donations towards funding in BH-savaged areas. Here are a few news reports from the web:

  • More than $672 million (N211.6 billion) to be spread over three years was on Friday pledged by 14 countries at the Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad region in Oslo, Norway.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has reported that donors pledged more than 670 million United States dollars at the United Nations-backed conference, hosted by Norway in conjunction with Nigeria and Germany to support aid operations in the region. NAN reports that the conference was co-hosted by Nigeria, Norway and Germany.

The United Nations and hosts of Friday’s Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region have expressed appreciation to donors for their pledges aimed at addressing the humanitarian crisis brought about by years of Boko Haram activities.

NAN also reports that at the conference, 14 donors pledged 458 million US dollars for relief operations in 2017 and an additional 214 million U.S. dollars was announced for 2018 and beyond.

Nigerian victims of Boko Haram insurgency will benefit about NOK1.6 billion (N60 billion) in aid from Norway within the next three years, that country’s authorities announced Friday.

About N27 billion of the amount will be disbursed this year alone, according to a statement by Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Borge Brende – Underlined portion emphasized by blogger to show the amount to be disbursed in 2017.

  • Among other donations have also been that of government of France and the European Union (EU) which will contribute the sum of €35.5 million towards IDPs in the area.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. All I did was google “donors & donations to Boko Haram destruction in NE Nigeria”.

One of the governors in the NE, Governor Shettima of Borno, was reported to have contradicted the governors of the two other states in the affected areas whom he said have exaggerated to attract donations!

[http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/214003-north-east-governors-exaggerating-disaster-draw-donations-borno-governor.html]

Do I believe Shettima?

While the devastation wreaked on the NE states has been massive, some of the stats – IDPs, funding needed, numbers killed, widows, fatherless children, et cetera do make one wonder about the accuracy of these figures, especially considering the population outside cities and urban areas like Maiduguri, Damatru, et cetera.

While donor-weariness has begun to set in throughout the world because of all the problem places, donors cannot be stopped from pumping in money; my only hope is that these monies will go to the needs of the people.

However, in the matter of Nigeria’s central government taking loans to support “reconstruction”, I believe the N10 billion given during Jonathan’s time added to all that has been locally and externally sourced should have gone a long way in not only settling IDPs in the past and at present.

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY has no reason to authorize the $1 billion-Plus that is being piggybacked by the loan for “Railways” for assent.

FRIDAY: Nigerians are weary of all the borrowings that have yielded next to Nothing. [ Below is the link to the conclusion that was to appear that “Friday.”]

RELATED

As Nigeria’s lawmakers squabble over locations of railroads, Nigerians groan under burden of loans-with-not-much-to-show – Tola Adenle

TUESDAY, MAY 2, 2017. 6:15 a.m. [GMT]

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