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SOCIO-ECONOMIC Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to cut the cost of governance and implement bold transparency and accountability policy as way of responding to the economic recession.
SERAP in a letter signed by Kolawole Oluwadare, its deputy director, on Saturday said the economic crisis in the country provides an opportunity for the government to prioritise the welfare of the vulnerable people in the country.
“This economic crisis provides an opportunity to prioritise access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic socio-economic rights, and to genuinely re-commit to the fight against corruption. The country cannot afford getting back to business as usual.”
SERAP said, “Implementing human rights, transparency and accountability measures would save money, address projected adverse human rights impacts of the recession, and fast-track the economic recovery process. It is not too late to take urgent measures that would put the country’s wealth and resources to work for the common good of all Nigerians.”
According to SERAP, decades of mismanagement and corruption, and deep-seated deficiencies in public financial management have directly contributed to higher levels of borrowing and public debts, and consequently, the economic recession, adding that successive governments have squandered the promise afforded by the country’s natural wealth and resources.
SERAP noted that the country’s resources appear to have been used almost exclusively for the benefit of the political elites rather than on projects that would ensure the right to an adequate standard of living of the citizens.
It noted that it would be grateful if the government would swing to action upon receipt of the letter
“We would be grateful if your government begins to implement the recommended action and measures within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to implement these recommendations for the sake of human rights, transparency and accountability.”
SERAP blamed the recent economic crisis in the country on systemic corruption at all levels of government.
“Nigeria has been poorly governed for many years, with systemic and widespread corruption at all levels of government, contributing to failures by successive governments to deliver essential public goods and services to Nigerians, contrary to the country’s constitution and human rights and anti-corruption obligations.”
It, however, urged the president to increase investment in public health, improve transparency and quality of information in government budgets, adding that there is need for the government to immediately instruct the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to jointly investigate allegations of systemic and widespread corruption in MDAs.