The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to halt disbursement of the $800 million loan facility secured from the World Bank.
The loan was obtained to give succour to the poorest of Nigerians, upon removal of subsidy on petrol by June.
“If our interest is how to protect the workforce, there must be a conversation around things government can do for Nigerian workers to become better. It is also difficult to understand why a government that is exiting in a matter of days will hurriedly disburse $800 million dollars in World Bank loan. We do not know to whom and where the money will go.
“You cannot be spending public funds without accountability. We need to know how the money will be shared to individuals. Where are the bank accounts the money will be sent to? We should let the new government shape conversations around how the country will manage the money, to move the country forward,” said PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian in Abuja, Osifo also expressed hope that Phase Five of the Port Harcourt refinery would come on stream in the third quarter of this year.
He blamed high cost of petrol on the multiple exchange rate regime of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), saying upon subsidy removal, petrol should not cost more than N400 per litre, if the official rate is used. However, it could cost over N700, if the unofficial rate window is deployed in sourcing the product.
Also, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) queried the Federal Government over the World Bank loan.
Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, in a statement on Friday, lamented nonchalant attitude by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration towards the country’s crippling debt crisis.
He said borrowing to fund post-fuel subsidy removal palliatives is strange, noting: “If the fuel subsidy removal process has been suspended, as announced by the Minister of Finance, after the NEC meeting at the end of April, then the government should return the borrowed money. What are we taking the loan for?”
Rafsanjani said fears of the country getting another $800 million loan from the World Bank sends waves of worries in the minds of Nigerians, as the country’s revenue collection in 2022 stood at N10 trillion, with a debt of about N77 trillion.
He said: “If we are paying such whopping amount of money when subsidy is removed, we should have enough savings. Instead of taking additional loans, we can use the subsidy funds for post fuel subsidy removal.
“As a matter of fact, we don’t need to borrow. What we need to do is cut waste. Just recently, we all saw the aviation minister announced that he bought 10 firefighting trucks for over N12 billion. Is this what we are borrowing to spend on?
“Also, we read that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy announced the approval of N24.2 billion to provide internet facilities at airports and some institutions, among other places. These are the things we are spending on, few weeks before the end of this administration, and this is unacceptable.”