We ‘LL Not Tolerate Misappropriation Of $3.4 billion IMF Loan, Covid-19 Donations- Gbajabiamila
The Speaker of House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila on Monday vowed that the House will embark on vigorous oversight function with the view to ensure accountability in the utilization of all external loans obtained by Nigeria to fight coronavirus pandemic.
He also said that the house will also investigate on the $3.4 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to meet the urgent balance of payment needs stemming from the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Gbajabiamila gave the assurance in Abuja while responding to various concerns on the diversion of palliative materials, controversies trailing the identity of beneficiaries of Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) as well as the need for accountability of the $3.4 billion IMF loan raised by Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa.
The Speaker, who underscored the need for robust partnership between the House and CSOs in the bid to deepen governance, unveiled plans to launch the ‘reworked Legislative Agenda’ in the next two weeks, in order to reflect the current realities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “On the IMF loan, our oversight is going to be more vigorous than ever before because these loans don’t come cheap.
“They must be applied as intended and that is the work that we have to do. I’m glad that you brought it up,” he acknowledged.
Hon. Gbajabiamila who affirmed that the ongoing Federal Government’s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) was not backed by law, assured the CSOs of the House resolve to roll out legislation that will address all concerns raised by Nigerians with the view to ensure that it covers “a wider spectrum of the country and give it geographical spread that looks like Nigeria.”
“What we are trying to do is that I’m sure in the next one or two weeks, we are working seriously on the codification of the NSIP, social intervention of government; you know it is not in any codification form, it is not a law. It works more or less as palliatives and is subject to the whims and caprices of anybody.
“We have similar programmes in America, England but they are codified so that it’s not subjected to anybody’s desire or how you want to distribute. It’s embedded and baked into the law that is made for that purpose. The statistics, how you distribute, the format to use all that will be done,” he assured” He concluded
He also urged the CSOs to come up with workable strategies that could help the government to ensure that will impact on the vulnerable groups including children, women, youths and the people living with disabilities across the society.
While speaking on the post-COVID-19 plans, the Speaker explained that the Emergency Economic Stimulus Bill was aimed at safeguarding the employment of Nigerians by giving sizeable incentives, by way of giving 50 per cent tax rebate to the employers of labour, grant moratorium to mortgage loans, among other initiatives.
Speaking earlier, the CISLAC Executive Director, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, solicited for the intervention of the House leadership in ensuring accountability in the distribution of palliatives materials to underscored the need for the National Assembly to address the concerns raised by Nigerians and other labour and civil society organisations including the donations accrued into COVID-19 account.
“We want to encourage the National Assembly to see what they can do to ensure that the additional 1 million that Mr President has agreed to add, to ensure that it captured the actual people who need it, not the other people who don’t need it.
“The other thing that I want to talk about is the loan that we got from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when the issue of the loan was brought, we were very much concerned that we did not want a loan to be collected and end up in a manner that it’s not going to help to support ordinary Nigerian.
“So we engaged IMF, and we have had a series of calls directly with Washington DC on how to ensure that we increase accountability in the management of the loan itself. I believe that the National Assembly because we have the Fiscal Responsibility Act that spells out how we need to borrow money and how to use the money. I want to appeal to the National Assembly to ensure that they pout maximum oversight on how this loan and all the donations across is actually being utilized. This will really help in ensuring that the target groups actually benefit,” Rafinsajani urged.
Meanwhile, an Abuja based Civil Society Organisation, Social Action on Monday vowed to hold President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration responsible for the recovered $311 million from the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha