A coalition of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), in Delta state has petitioned the World Bank and other relevant authorities to the intention of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration to secure a loan of N500 million from the World Bank as part of the state’s counterpart funding of ecological programmes of the World Bank in the state.
The registered NGOs comprise members of Nigeria Network of NGOs and CIVICUS, an assemblage of 75 NGOs working in different thematic areas geared towards the sustainable development of the state.
The organizations said they have forwarded a petition to the Office of the Compliance Advisor, Ombudsman of the World Bank with strong believe that its observations concerning a planned loan by the Governor will be given the needed consideration so as to halt moves to mortgage the future of the state and its peoples.
THEWILL recalls that the Delta State Executive Council had last week approved the payment of N500 million as counterpart funding of a World Bank Loan with a repayment plan of 30 years for ecological degradation which will be monitored by the World Bank.
But the NGOs in a statement signed by the state coordinator, Deacon Okezi Odugala and its secretary, Chief Osaemenjor Gregory Chukuwemeke and made available to THEWILL on Saturday, frowned at the latest loan proposal by Governor Okowa for several reasons, stressing that “we would not fold our arms to look while the future of our born and unborn children is mortgage”.
The NGOs said it has predicated its position on the fact that Delta State is presently carrying a huge debt burden coupled with dwindling allocation from the federation account as a result of fall in global oil prices with attendant negative impact on citizens of the state, emphasising that almost all the local government councils in the state cannot pay staff salaries.
The NGOs, stated that it viewed the loan as a further enslavement of the poor and a mortgage of the future generation by the present political class, pointing out that Delta State presently ranks as one of the states with lack of infrastructures and high number of unemployed persons.
While frowning at what it described as a fraudulent and corrupt manner the state government went about the whole thing, the NGOs noted that adequate advocacy was not carried out before seeking the World Bank loan, adding that as an advocacy group they were not told the advantages and disadvantages of such loan at the present prevailing economic predicament.
“In the past we had a financial boom and there was no plan to save for the future, what is the guarantee that borrowing and mortgaging our tomorrow is the only solution to our present economic woes. No Need Assessment of environmentally impacted communities was carried out with civil society and other stakeholders participation before requesting for the World Bank loan which is the standard practices in assessing World Bank loans.
“We view with great suspicion the implementation of the loan as there is no detailed information on the criteria used to select the proposed projects to benefit from the loan and repayment plan. Delta State is a multi-ethnic and complex state and this must be given premium consideration in resource allocation in order to sustain peace and unity, we want to ask if this was taken into consideration before requesting for the loan facility.
“What is the mechanism that has been put in place for selection, monitoring and evaluation of projects to be funded by the proposed loan.? The Forum of Delta State NGOs request for a public forum of all stakeholders of the Delta State Project with World Bank representatives to acquaint Deltans about the loans facility before implementing any project towards ensuring transparency and accountability,” the forum said.
The NGOs further posited that in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals with emphasis on Goals 16 and 17 which Nigeria and by extension Delta State is a signatory to in September, 2015, all developmental projects must have full participation of civil society, private sector and government from conception, implementation and post-implementation.
The NGOs therefore warned the state government against politicizing the process of sustainable development, warning that any move to undermine the process will lead to legal confrontation.
“We wholeheartedly believe in our No More Business As Usual,” the coalition declared.