Activist-lawyer, Chief Femi Falana, SAN, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari against taking $3.5 billion loan to finance the 2016 budget from the World Bank and African Development Bank, noting that loan comes with unpalatable conditionality.
He, however, called on the federal government to recover the outstanding loans and accrued revenues payable to the Federation Account and use it to fund the budget.
Falana, in a statement issued yesterday in Lagos, maintained that hapless Nigerians 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.
He argued that rather than take a loan of $2.5 billion with dangerous conditions from the World Bank, the federal government should recover the aforesaid loans and revenues of not less than $66.5 billion with the assistance of the anti-graft agencies.
The statement provides insight into the said recoverable loan and revenues thus: “From five cycles of independent audit reports compiled by the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the potential recoverable revenues payable to the Federation Account are not less than $20,221,018,007.00 (Twenty billion, two hundred and twenty one million, eighteen thousand, and seven hundered dollars only).
“The potential recoverable revenues are said to have arisen from “underpayment/underassessment of taxes, royalties, levies and rents.” If you require more information in respect of this matter you may wish to contact your colleague, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning. In her capacity as the immediate past Executive Secretary of NEITI she had called on the federal government to recover the said sum of $20.2 billion.
“On October 4, 2006, the Central Bank of Nigeria apportioned $7 billion to 14 Nigerian banks to “manage” out of the nation’s external reserves, which stood at $38.07 billion, as at the end of July, 2006. The amount involved represented 18.39 per cent of the total external reserves at the material time.
“In addition, following the crisis of global capitalism, which occurred in 2008, the Central Bank of Nigeria gave a bailout of $4 billion (N600 billion) to the commercial banks in the country. The CBN has not deemed it fit to ask for the refund of the total sum of $11 billion injected into the banking system in the space of two years.
“On September 6, 2015, the Presidency announced that the management of the NNPC had commenced the process of recovering of the sum of $9.6 billion in over deducted tax benefits from joint venture partners on major capital projects and the legacy OPA/SWAP oil contracts.
“A fortnight ago, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice disclosed that the federal government had concluded arrangements to recover an additional $750 million from the “Abacha loot.
“In the ongoing Senate probe into the affairs of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) it has been revealed that the corporation had accumulated over $25 billion ( about N5 trillion) debts as against its Act which put the debt ceiling at N800 billion.
“According to Mr. Ahmed Kuru, the Managing Director of AMCON, “most of the debtors of AMCON are big men who fly in private jets, live in big mansions and they have taken money and they are not paying back.
“Having regard to the fact that the International Monetary Fund, whose endorsement is required for the World Bank loan of $2.5 billion, will insist that certain unpalatable conditionalities be imposed on the people of Nigeria we urge the federal government to jettison the plan to take the loan.”