Nigeria is owing the United Nations (UN) a grand total assessed contribution of $3,847,723 (about N600 billion).
Seen as debts by the UN system accounting apparatus, mere irregularity of payments are enough to threaten Nigeria’s status as well as influence within the global body at a time efforts are being intensified for the country to take a permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Already, Nigeria has consistently been missing in the UN yearly roll of honour, a clear embarrassment considering the nation’s commanding height vis-à-vis some countries that are on the roll of honour.
The worry by diplomatic watchers is that a debt carried over to this year (2013) may not augur well for a smooth running of the machinery put in place by Nigeria’s otherwise brilliant team. Interestingly, the total amount of money being owed excludes outstanding $30,000 being arrears of the $5,000 fixed annual contribution to the G77 + China Group for the period 2007-2012 (six years).
The outstanding contributions are broken down into: Regular Budget ($1,843,269), Peacekeeping Operations ($1, 869,971) and International Tribunals ($104,483). But the country managed since 2009 to pay the fourth tier remittance known as the Capital Master Plan. Voluntary contributions to the tune of $250,000 has been recommended for Nigeria for 2013, even as deliberations on the methodology for determining scale of assessment on contributions were ongoing.
Owing to the perceived sensitive nature of the Nigeria’s financial remittance status, it is an issue nobody at both her Permanent Mission to the UN and Nigeria House bureaucracy wishes to speak on. But documents obtained by The Guardian at the UN relevant departments put the country’s “effective participation” and strategic functioning in jeopardy.
According to a key source at the UN, “the continued delay by Nigeria, and this is amazing, to settle her assessed contributions to the UN is a big slur on the image and status of the country, especially when compared to some countries of lesser standing in the UN that have since paid theirs.
“Now, this situation places the country in a very disadvantageous position when it comes to taking key decisions as well as participating in some vital activities of the organisation.”
The Guardian investigations reveal that contrary to what obtains at the UN, Nigeria is up to date with her financial commitment to multilateral organs on the continent – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU). At the continental level, Nigeria, alongside South Africa, Egypt, Libya and Algeria, are the biggest contributors (60 per cent) to the AU finances.
However, there is a slight departure at ECOWAS, where the assessed due provision has been abolished and replaced with the community levy. Nevertheless, Nigeria has withheld 40 per cent of the community levy as a way of protesting the expenditure pattern of the sub-regional community, which was dubbed “funny” by the Nigerian ECOWAS desk during the closing days of the administration Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Nigeria still picks about 65 per cent of all ECOWAS budgets. The community levy brings about a situation where 0.5 per cent taxes on goods imported into the ECOWAS area from without are paid into a dedicated account. ECOWAS would be running on a deficit in 2013 if Nigeria continues to withhold its due on the community levy.