26th December, 2017
PAY NIGERIA’S IDB DUES NOW
Nigeria is about to lose both its seat on the Board of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and its membership of the bank due to failure to pay its dues. The bank has allegedly issued several warnings to this effect the Ministry of Finance has failed to comply. The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply worried by this discovery. It is a sad reflection of the bureaucratic bottleneck often associated with some ministries and government agencies in this country. Who did this to Nigeria? Who is responsible for this lapse? Who left undone what should have been done? Is it the permanent secretary or the minister? Or is the delay from the presidency? Has the president issued orders for release of the fund? Is somebody refusing to take action? Who wants Nigeria to lose its membership of IDB with the dire consequences of losing all the benefits the country has been gaining? Although it was established since December 1973, the Nigerian office in Abuja was not opened until 22nd August, 2016. IDB has been of immense economic benefit to its 57-member countries. Its soft loans have been known to rubber-cushion the effect of harsh financial policies of other international finance institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
With membership cutting across all continents of the globe, Asia, Europe, Africa and South America, countries like Guyana, Albania, Uzbekistan, Sierra Leone, Togo, Mozambique, Gabon, Guinea have benefitted from IDB’s interest-free loans. The Islamic Development Bank has launched a programme to release $180 million in financing to six African countries for renewable energy projects as part of a broad strategy to deepen its involvement in the region.
Islamic finance is growing in Africa as governments seek to develop large-scale infrastructure projects. Nigeria cannot afford to be shut out of this great opportunity. The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) set aside about $2billion dollars (about N310 billion) in support of Nigeria’s developmental programmes which was to span three years (2012-2014). Nigeria also received $670million interest-free loan from the Islamic Development Bank in 2012.
Not only that, IDB has successfully financed a number of infrastructural development projects in Nigeria in recent times. These include the $65 million Ilesha Water Supply and Sanitation project in Osun State, the $43 million 300-bed hospital project in Kaduna State and the $7 million Zaria Water Supply Expansion Project. Also, the National Programme for Food Security funded by IDB, which was designed to reduce rural poverty through enhancing farmers’ access to extension advisory support for greater productivity, was successfully implemented in Anambra, Gombe and Yobe States.
Even right now, discussions are on-going with the bank to conclude, sign and implement several other programmes beneficial to Nigeria, including the $98 million Bilingual Education Project which will provide almajiri access to basic education and vocational skills in Osun, Nasarawa, Niger, Kwara and Kano States. Other States in the scheme are Kaduna, Gombe, Borno and Adamawa.
In addition to approving loan facilities to Nigeria, IDB has made several grants and provided technical assistance to Nigeria. These include a $237,500 to the Central Bank of Nigeria for the development of regulatory framework for non-interest banking in the country and a $250,000 grant to the National Emergency Management Agency for the development of NEMA’s capacity in disaster management.
As recent as September 2017, Ebonyi State received $150 million from the same IDB to boost health facilities and enable the state governor to reconstruct over 198km roads, known as ring roads, which cut across eight local government areas of the state.
All the above projects may have to stop if Nigeria fails to pay its due on or before December 31, 2017. We also stand to lose our share capital of 7.66%. Who wants to kill the goose that lays the golden egg? This is our million dollar question. Are we serious as a people? Who did this to Nigeria? How can those entrusted with the people’s fate play dumb with their destiny? Is it religion again? Does money know religion? Is it ethnicity? Or is it power-play?
We need urgent answers to these questions. The Ministry of Finance must speak up. The tax payers are asking questions. Voters are asking questions. The hoi polloi are asking questions. Kemi Adeosun must tell Nigerians what went amiss. Nigeria must not be kicked out of IDB. It had better not happen. We cannot afford to lose the source of soft loans. We need more of such sources even if they come from the Vatican or the Ka’abah. Any interest-free borrowing is a relief from the strangulating conditionalities of IMF whose only value lies in pulling nations down in the stormy waters of indebtedness and collective misery. As we round up, we demand full explanation for this lapse from the Minister of Finance. We implore the National Assembly to set the machinery in motion for investigating the circumstances which led to the delay in the payment of Nigeria’s due to IDB.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)