- On Thursday, April 28 the IMF approved $3.4billion in emergency support to Nigeria
- The fund is expected to aid the government's efforts in addressing the severe economic impact of the coronavirus shock and the sharp fall in oil prices
- Notable civil society groups in the country warn that transparency should be adhered to in disbursement and use of the fund
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Leading civil society organisations in Nigeria have urged the federal government to ensure transparency in the use of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) financial assistance to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and shore up the country’s failing economy
Recall that the board of the IMF recently approved the sum of $3.4billion to support Nigeria.
The grant to Nigeria, called Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI), is the highest so far to any member country.
The civil society groups in a statement sent to journalists on Monday, May 4 urged the Nigerian government to prioritize and utilise the funds to improve health spending, socio-economic safety nets and support for small and medium scale enterprises.
The statement was signed by Connected Development, OXFAM Nigeria, BudgIT and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre.
“The crisis has led to a decline in tax revenues, collapse in commodity prices especially that of oil, Nigeria’s main export, diminishing official development assistance, and rising debt obligations, disrupted supply chains and high inequality levels,” the groups noted.
“Even before the ongoing pandemic, poverty and inequality levels were unacceptably high in Nigeria. Both the federal government of Nigeria and the IMF, therefore, need to ensure that these funds are directed towards meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in society, especially women, children, internally displaced persons and rural communities,” said Constant Tchona, Oxfam in Nigeria country director.
“To ensure full transparency, openness and accountability in the application of this loan to serve the people who need it most, we urge both government and IMF to take a step further and support the creation of a civil society network to contribute to monitoring the disbursement of the funds,” said Auwal Musa, executive director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre.
According to the chief executive officer of Connected Development, Hamzat Lawal, the Nigerian government and the IMF have the unprecedented opportunity to begin to turn the tide against the rising inequality gap by ensuring that the fund is channelled to fast-track the delivery of priority projects like healthcare delivery, education financing and empowering small businesses.
“Improving service delivery in these areas can have remarkable implications on building the Nigeria we wish for,” he added.
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In a related development, a consortium of anti-corruption organisations has called on federal and state governments to immediately publish the names of all beneficiaries of government palliatives to ensure transparency in the exercise.
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