SERAP to Buhari: End impact of recession on poor, marginalized Nigerians

Photo: adebayoalonge.WordPress.com
Photo: adebayoalonge.WordPress.com

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari requesting him to “use your good offices and leadership to urgently take concrete measures to address and mitigate the negative effects of the economic recession and crisis on the poorest and most marginalized across the country.”

The letter dated 2 September 2016 and signed by SERAP senior staff counsel, Timothy Adewale, expressed concern that “the economic crisis is having disproportionate impacts on the rights of the poorest and most marginalized, who are the most vulnerable because they already suffer from years of corruption, underdevelopment and abuse of power.”

The organization asked President Buhari to “Urgently provide the socially and economically vulnerable with social protection programs and safety-nets to protect them from severe poverty and deprivation”, and “immediately drop the proposed 10 per cent tax on phone calls, text messages, data and more, as this would disproportionately affect the socially and economically vulnerable and push them deeper into poverty and deprivation.”

The organization also asked the President to “Urgently propose legislation and constitutional amendment that would end the practice of budgeting billions of Naira as ‘security votes’ for the Federal Government and the 36 state governments, as the diversion of the funds has continued to undermine the ability of the government to provide essential goods and services across the country.”

The letter reads in part: “Increased poverty and the hunger that it brings will threaten the right to life and health of many socially and economically vulnerable, including women and children. These groups of people are bearing the brunt and feeling the impacts of the economic crisis on their standards of living, their jobs and their homes.”

“Your government has a binding obligation to ensure that all its policies to address the economic crisis are consistent with standards of human rights law. At the same time, the role of your government is to act as the guarantor of human rights of millions of impoverished Nigerians, including economic and social rights. Economic recession cannot be used as excuse for failing to fulfil these rights.”

“We urge President Buhari to immediately provide economic stimulus packages that are focused on limiting the worst human consequences of the crisis, and give priority attention to the most vulnerable and marginalized in the distribution of resources.”

“Buhari should put pressure on the National Assembly to cut its budget and spending, which in 2016 alone is N115 billion. The sum of N150 billion each was allocated to the National Assembly in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 while N115 billion was allocated in 2015. These huge budget allocations cannot be justified and must stop.”

“Buhari should immediately cut the sum of N103.47m budgeted for foodstuff and catering materials in the Presidential Villa, and put pressure on the 36 state governments (including the Ondo State government which budgeted N103.2m for feeding and entertainment of the state governor in 2016 and the Cross River state government which budgeted the sum of N1.4bn for entertainment and hospitality for the governor), to cut these outrageous budget allocations and use the funds for social services and to pay workers’ salaries.”

“The economic recession is devastating lives and livelihoods across the country, and quickly translating into rising unemployment among Nigerian youths, hunger and powerlessness. Exacerbated by the failure of many state governments to pay workers’ salaries timely, this situation has pushed millions of Nigerians deeper into poverty. Yet, there are no social protection and human rights-based responses to the economic crisis.”

“SERAP is also concerned that the economic recession threatens the full range of human rights, particularly economic and social rights such as the right to an adequate standard of living and the rights to health, housing, food and education.”

“SERAP believes that the economic crisis is a human rights concern not only because of the serious consequences on human rights, but also because of the underlying structural causes of the crisis which relate directly to unfettered pursuit of self-interest and failures of successive governments to respect, protect and fulfill economic and social rights.”

“Under international human rights law, your government is responsible for creating the conditions in which Nigerians and other people living in the country can effectively exercise the full range of their human rights, including economic and social rights. These rights set out the basic minimum standards against which the actions (and failures to act) of your government can be judged.”

“SERAP believes that the economic crisis in the country is a threat to human rights, but also an opportunity to prioritise compliance with human rights obligations, particularly those related to economic and social rights, as well as to fast-track prosecution of corruption cases and recovery of stolen assets.”

“Despite the human rights dimensions of the crisis, the language of human rights is still largely absent from the diagnoses or prescriptions proposed by your government. There has been little analysis of either the causes or the consequences of the economic crisis in human rights terms. The duty to respect is essentially a duty to “do no harm.” Thus, your government must work diligently to avoid and mitigate any negative impacts of the crisis on the poorest and most marginalized groups, whose rights are being violated.”

SERAP also urged President Buhari to:

1. Move swiftly to avoid and mitigate the negative effects of the economic recession on human dignity and human rights of several Nigerians living in poverty by urgently providing the socially and economically vulnerable with social protection programs and safety-nets to protect them from severe poverty and deprivation.

2. Immediately guarantee minimum levels of economic and social rights essential for survival and human dignity, including the rights to health, food, housing and education.

3. Fully integrate human rights principles and standards, such as participation, transparency, accountability and redress into the initiatives developed to respond to the economic crisis, and identify longer-term measures that address the structural causes of the crisis that impinge on the government’s ability to meet its human rights obligations and responsibilities to its own citizens.

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  • Höly Wähala

    Useless Yoro fringe group, they won’t call for the sacking of the most incomptent Economic Mgmt Team (EMT) in the history of Nigeria because na Yoros messed up our economy, if it were an Igbo Finance Minister and Pastor Midget as VP, all hell would have been let loose… with their integrity-challenged sponsor, Femi Falana, running to The Hague to accuse innocent technocrats of crimes against humanity. SERAP should sharaap if they can’t gather enough courage to call for the sacking of Kalamity Kemi… Yoro Bigots, tribalism is a way of their dirty lives. Monkeys!

    • God dey

      Haba! You never said that about your friend Okonjo Iweala madam onigele ara who couldn’t even explain how recovered Abacha loot was spent under his watch

      • Höly Wähala

        Our GDP grew at an average 6% throughout her reign… what is the decline rate today, since growth is no longer applicable? Is your life under Dr. NOI better or under this incompetent Yoro clowns?

        • God dey

          Don’t worry, very soon, Madam onigele ara Okonjo Iweala will have to account for all the crimes she committed against the Nigerian people. In other societies, she will be facing justice NOW. What a joke of a country

          • Höly Wähala

            You’re sick… She has dared this Govt. to investigate her two terms, what else do want? They can’t because she’s clean as a whistle, not your stealing Yoro criminals who into govt. for what they can get not what they can offer. Dr. NOI is untouchable, you can take it as gospel. Monkey!

          • God dey

            It’s not best to turn abusive when making argument. Checking my postings, in all the points I have made I never abused you or called you names. Since you have turned abusive, this is going to be the last posting/response you receive from me on this matter regardless of what you say/post. Bye for now.

          • front man

            Yes ooo

  • agbobu

    CHECK THIS OUT

    A few days before the end of his tenure, former President Goodluck
    Jonathan and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mohammed
    Bello Adoke, connived to award more than $3 billion in crude oil to a
    Chinese oil company linked to a controversial businessman, Emeka Offor,
    SaharaReporters has reliably learned.Former AGF Mohammed Bello Adoke

    The highly questionable deal was consummated through a judgment handed
    down by a High Court judge who was also in on the deal, according to a
    source close to the deal.

    In December 2014, Addax Petroleum
    Development (Nigeria) Limited and Addax Petroleum Exploration (Nigeria)
    Limited, sued the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) seeking
    a huge financial award in what the company described as miscalculation
    of oil royalty and taxes, and breach of their 1998 “production sharing”
    contract with the NNPC in respect of certain oil fields.

    The contract covered oil-prospecting licenses (OPL) 98/118 (now Oil Mining Leases 123, 124, 136 and 137).

    In an extensive interview with our correspondent, the source claimed
    that Addax’s lawsuit was at the urging of Mr. Adoke, who should have
    been protecting the Nigerian public’s interest.

    In a letter dated
    April 2, 2015, Mr. Adoke proposed that President Jonathan approve an
    out-of-court settlement of the lawsuit, tagged FJC/ABJ/CS/1099/2014 and
    filed on December 23, 2014. In the letter to President Jonathan, the
    then Attorney General and Minister of Justice also indicated that he was
    attaching a letter dated the same day from the legal department of the
    NNPC.

    Mr. Adoke’s letter was fast-tracked in a manner that two
    legal authorities separately described as “highly unusual” and
    “unseemly.” On May 25, a mere four days before the end of President
    Jonathan’s tenure, a Federal High Court judge in Abuja had concluded the
    terms of the out-of-court settlement. The judge’s “judgment order”
    excluded the office of the AGF because Mr. Adoke did not send any
    lawyers to represent the government at the final judgment.

    “It’s
    highly curious that the ‘judgment order” did not list the AGF’s office
    as a defendant in the lawsuit. Yet, the AGF [Adoke] was the person
    generating a legal memo to the president [Jonathan] for an out-of-court
    settlement,” said an Abuja-based lawyer after reviewing the case.

    Nonetheless, the judge read out the terms of the agreement and gave an
    order sealing it, but his judgment order did not include the hidden cost
    of the judgment.

    This act of judicial concealment has baffled
    the lawyers who looked at the document. SaharaReporters obtained a copy
    of the hidden terms of agreement that puts the total value of NNPC’s
    indebtedness to Addax at more than $3 billion—specifically, a whopping
    $3,491,588,729.64. The judgment debt would be paid to Addax via crude
    oil lifting that could last for numerous years, an NNPC source
    disclosed.

    Addax Petroleum has claimed that a letter signed by
    Funsho Kupolokun, who was adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo
    on Petroleum, gave the company the right to a production-sharing
    contract relating to the oil fields named in their original lawsuit.

    Addax also claimed that, because of that letter from the presidential
    adviser, his company spent about $3 billion on the development of the
    oil fields.

    One of the lawyers who reviewed the case for
    SaharaReporters wondered why it took Addax no earlier than 2014 before
    they sued the Federal Government for the alleged breach of contract.

    Contacted by SaharaReporters to disclose Mr. Offor’s full involvement
    in the judgement scam, his representatives expressed preference for
    communication by email.

    Hours after we complied, Edwin Ndukwe of
    the Communications Department of Offor’s Chrome Group sent a response in
    which he denied that Mr. Offor was the ‘outlet’ through which Addax
    facilitated the settlement.

    “Sir Emeka had absolutely no hand or
    control in the proceedings of the court, which led to the outcome you
    inferred,” he said. “He is not a shareholder and he did not enter into
    any agreement to influence or sponsor the outcome of the court’s
    decision. Addax Petroleum is gigantic enough to weigh in by itself on
    any judicial matters bothering on their business conduct in Nigeria.”

    He asserted that the Addax/Kaztec business to business relationship
    began in 2010 when Kaztec was awarded the TB 1921 contract for the
    installation of subsea pipeline and topsides in OML 123.

    “Since
    then, the relationship grew between the two as evident in the project
    being duly completed. Kaztec is a wholly 100% owned indigenous EPIC
    service provider in the oil & gas industry. It has performed very
    well over the years and have received numerous commendations for their
    technical competence and their ability to deliver on projects timeously
    and at significantly reduced cost from not just Addax but other firms.”

    We also reached out to NNPC spokesperson, Ohi Alegebe to ask how the
    NNPC intends to pay the debt as stipulated in the final judgement. He
    said he needed to reach the Legal Department of the NNPC to find out the
    details, but did not get back to us at the time of publishing this
    story.

    For their part, Addax offices in Abuja told our reporters
    that all of the company communication personnel were tied up in a
    training which involved the Managing Director, Mr. Cor Zegelaar, and
    cannot respond to our inquiries until next week.

    In a recent
    interview with Premium Times, former President Obasanjo openly accused
    Mr. Offor of scamming Nigeria out of billions of dollars in the
    so-called turn-around maintenance of refineries, calling him an
    ‘amateur’ who knew nothing about maintaining a refinery. He stated that
    Mr. Offor had infiltrated the police and anti-corruption agencies and
    NNPC officials to facilitate his scams.

    “[We met] refineries that
    were not working, refineries that were given to an amateur for repairs,
    for maintenance, what they call turn-around maintenance, to the company
    of Emeka Offor – Chrome Group,” he said of his government. “Where has
    Emeka Offor maintained refineries before? Where has he? That’s what we
    met. So the refineries were not working.”

    Reminded by his
    interviewers that despite that discovery he did not recover any money
    from Mr. Offor, the former President replied: “What can you recover? A
    man who was paid upfront? He had people. He got some police…people were
    there. And like they have said to you now, look, if it works for a week,
    that’s all you get. And Emeka Offor, after I left he became friends
    with every government that has come. Now he’s not only into refinery and
    oil and all that, he’s now also in energy!”

  • favourtalk

    honestly, the president is really trying his best, he has the people of this nation at heart, he wants the best for the country and he will soon bring the government to the common people, the country will be great

    • front man

      You are on point

  • front man

    People should just be calm with president muhammed buhari to end this hard economy Nigerians are presently in now