Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the World Bank President, Mr David Malpass, “to exercise the bank’s prerogative to release archival records and documents relating to spending on all approved funds to improve access to electricity in Nigeria between 1999 and 2020, the Bank’s role in the implementation of any funded electricity projects, and to identify and name any executed projects, and Nigerian officials, ministries, departments and agencies involved in the execution of such projects.”
The World Bank Board of Directors had last week approved $500m “to help boost access to electricity in Nigeria and improve the performance of the electricity distribution companies in the country.” But in the application dated 6 February 2021, and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization urged the bank to “explain the rationale for the approval of $500m to implement electricity projects in the country, despite reports of widespread and systemic corruption in the sector, and the failure of the authorities to enforce a court judgment ordering the release of details of payments to allegedly corrupt electricity contractors who failed to execute any projects.” SERAP said, “This application is brought pursuant to the World Bank’s Access to Information Policy, which aims to maximize access to information and promote the public good.
There is public interest in Nigerians knowing about the bank’s supervisory role and specifically its involvement in the implementation of electricity projects, which it has so far funded.” According to SERAP, “The $500m is part of the over one billion dollars available to Nigeria under the project titled: Nigeria Distribution Sector Recovery Program. We would be grateful for details of any transparency and accountability mechanisms under the agreement for the release of funds, including whether there is any provision that would allow Nigerians and civil society to monitor the spending of the money by the government, its agencies, and electricity distribution companies.”
SERAP also said, “Should the bank fail and/or refuse to release the information and documents as requested, SERAP would file an appeal to the Secretariat of the Bank’s Access to Information Committee to challenge any such decision, and if it becomes necessary, to the Access to Information Appeals Board. SERAP may also consider other legal options outside the bank’s Access to Information framework.” The letter copied to Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, read in part: “SERAP believes that releasing the information and documents would enable Nigerians and civil society to meaningfully engage in the implementation of electricity projects funded by the Bank, contribute to the greater public good, and enhance the Bank’s oft-stated commitment to transparency and accountability.”
“The World Bank has been and continues to be involved in overseeing the transfer, disbursement, spending of funds on electricity projects in Nigeria. The Bank also reportedly approved a $750 million loan for Nigeria’s electricity sector in June 2020 to cut tariff shortfalls, protect the poor from price adjustments, and increase power supply to the grid. As such, the World Bank is not a neutral party in this matter.