Abacha’s Loot A Redemption For Nigeria’s Economy! What Has Buhari’s Administration Done With The Funds?

The Federal Government had said on Thursday 23rd of March 2019 that they had had spent 22 million from Abacha loot on the National Social Investment Programme. N-SIPS was set up by the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration to improve the living conditions of millions of Nigerians across the country.

The announcement was made by Special Adviser to the President on SIPs, Mrs. Maryam Uwais when she had briefed the State House reporters after giving an account of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. According to her  the programmes include N-Power, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), National Cash Transfer Project (NCTP), and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).

She clarified that government got N470.8 billion discharged among 2016 and a year before for the execution of SIP.

She named four-expansive projects of SIP as the N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT), National Home-Grown School Feeding, and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programs (GEEP).

As indicated by her, from 2016 till date, the Federal Government had budgeted every year N500 billion for social ventures however just N79.98 billion had been discharged in the year 2016.

In 2017, she said N140 billion was discharged and N250.4 billion out of 2018.

She further said that out of the 322 million dollars recuperated from Abacha’s plunder which had been meant for the SIPs, just 22 million dollars had been used by her office. Where did the other funds go to?

She also went ahead to say that towards the end of March the NSIPs had direct effect on the lives of 12,069,153 recipients and more than 30 million secondary recipients, ranging from cooks, ranchers, families, to workers and members of the community. Imagine what could be done if more funds were made available.

She added that under N-Power, they have had 526,000 youth from 774 LGAs teaching in state funded schools, very capable health workers in health centers and have even gone as far as helping farmers in their communities. This is good but not good enough, compared to the amount of Nigerian youths roaming the street, highly certified, and totally jobless.

Also expatiating on the fact that Nigeria is quick on its approach to turning into the leader in Africa and in the National Home-Grown School Feeding Program, by feeding over 9.7 Million children and where in the process of doing more. How long will the process of doing more take?

Revealing that presently they had 103,992 cooks on their payroll and they were also feeding 9,714,342 students in 53,715 government grade schools in about 31 States. Explaining that they had made it capable for these youngsters to be able to feed eat on a healthy regimen, towards improving their learning results. How true is this data, how many children are truly well feed, do they just give out the funds, and look the other way? Is there anyone with unquestionable integrity supervising the project of  the  children getting fed? How certain are we that some unseen hands are not siphoning what is meant for these youngsters?

She also added that, under the GEEP, they have the FarmerMoni, MarketMoni and TraderMoni. and that for the initial two, assets between N10, 000 and N350,000 are being paid into the records of the successful candidates who have a place with a registered cooperative and have a bank account. Adding also that petty traders are given a loan of N10, 000 each and upon reimbursement within six months, the recipient ends up qualified for a higher sum.

What exactly is the government spending Abacha loot on if out of 322 million  dollars recovered loots only 22 million dollars had been utilized by SIP.

Essentially it can be said that the government’s social investment programme intends to lift many Nigerians out of poverty and other forms of social problems. It is said that close to 110 million people are poor and with about 30 million living in extreme poverty situation, this is a programme that perhaps might begin to deal with the rot facing Nigeria. With less poverty stricken people, there are less people who are prone to armed robbery, prostitution and other social vices.
There is no doubt that the current economic situation in the country has left many Nigerians exposed to the vagaries of economic difficulties. If the Buhari led administration can finally decided to go all do way and do what is right, this perhaps might just be the way out, and may be, just may be go as far as stopping the brain drain that is happening in the economy presently.

It is, therefore, thoughtful and extremely considerate on the part of the Buhari-led administration to initiate a programme to ameliorate hardship faced by the most vulnerable, poor and unemployed people. But yet again can we say that too little of Abacha’s funds are being spent on the programme, would it not be wise or safe to say that when you truly decide to do something that will be of benefit to the society then you should go  all the way.

Thus, however, one looks at the social investment programme of  President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration, the challenges are enormous and would be made less enormous with all hands or in this case all funds on deck. Even though the prospects and benefits are, indeed, commendable. It is not enough.

Uwais had said in 2018 that  over 9,300,892 children in 49,837 government schools in 26 states are being fed under the School Feeding Programme. She said this requires 6.8 million eggs, 594 cattle and 83 metric tons of fish to be supplied to cooks every week.

Former military tyrant General Sani Abacha was one of the tyrant who totally drained the nation treasury, there are some people who often say that if each Nigeria is given a million naira, there will still be some money left from Abacha’s loot. In 2018 BBC had reported that the Federal Govt had confidently come out to say that they would be distributing Abacha’s loot to poor families. The announcement was made after the Swiss government had returned more than $300m (£228m).

According To BBC report published on the 29th of June 2018

“The money, stolen by Abacha in the 1990s, is due to be given to around 300,000 households, with each getting around $14 a month.

Critics fear the handouts could be a way to influence next year’s election.

At this rate, the payments – to be made to residents in 19 of Nigeria’s 36 states – should last for about six years.

The money was originally deposited in Luxembourg, and is a fraction of the billions of dollars allegedly looted while Abacha was in power from 1993 to 1998.

He ruled Nigeria with an iron fist until his sudden death on 8 June 1998 after an apparent heart attack.”

President Muhammadu Buhari incumbent president of Nigeria had made the recovery of Abacha’s  stolen assets a major part of his 2015 election campaign, it is believed that Switzerland have returned about $1bn to Nigeria.

Switzerland is believed to have returned about $1bn to Nigeria over the last 10 years. Roberto Balzaretti who was one of the Swiss agents who had been involved in the negotiations of the transfer had said that there were strict conditions attracted to granting Nigeria access to the funds.

The cash payments were supposed to be part of Nigeria National Safety Net Programme which would consequently help poor families. The money was supposed to be paid in installment, but Balzaretti had said that if the funds were not properly accounted for the payment would be stopped. Perhaps it is time the Swiss make good on their threat, and stop the funding till the government can make proper account for it.

In 2018 certain allegations were made that the funds were being used to sponsor the 2019 elections, even if this was unfounded how certain are we that this is not were the other funds have been going to.  According to an article  published on DECEMBER 14, 2018, it was reported that the United Kingdom Agency for International Department (UKAID) sponsored programme has begun the monitoring of the Federal Government’s spending of $322.5 million looted funds recovered from former Head of State late General Sani Abacha being disbursed to the poorest Nigerians. While this money totally belong to us, one of the reasons why the United Kingdom has decided to monitor how these funds are being utilized is because they are very much aware of how corrupt our leaders are, and how they of course can’t be trusted with the looted funds.

Below is  an excerpt of an article culled from Vanguard, published on 14th of December 2018

AGAINST allegations that the returned Abacha loot was being used for political campaigns in the 2019 elections, the United Kingdom Agency for International Department (UKAID) sponsored programme has begun the monitoring of the Federal Government’s spending of $322.5 million looted funds recovered from former Head of State late General Sani Abacha being disbursed to the poorest Nigerians.

Executive Director of a civil society organization, Africa Network for Environment And Economic Justice, ANEEJ, Rev. David Ugolor said that so far, the distribution of the funds was being done through the Transparency and Accountability in the recovery and management of looted assets project. Following the London anti-corruption summit held in 2016 and the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) in 2017, a total of $322.5million was returned from Switzerland to Nigeria.

The returned loot is also known as ‘Abacha 2’. He explained that the initial monitoring process was to fact-checked the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to the poorest of the poor in 11 states, focused on 300,000 beneficiaries of the scheme. He said 16 states have beneficiaries from the August-September round of disbursement. According to him, “Last month, we successfully piloted monitoring arrangements “the MANTRA model” aimed at covering cash transfers to 300,000 of the poorest Nigerians and assess the impact on their lives. The pilot was in two states, Nasarawa and Cross River.

“Last week, we deployed 504 field monitors, eleven supervisors and 22 deputy supervisors drawn from members of the Nigerian Network on Stolen Asset, NNSA, and other civil society organizations across the country to fact-check the Conditional Cash Transfer, CCT, to the poorest of the poor in eleven states with the hope of covering more states in subsequent exercise. This is based on our 10 percent sample size approximated at 300,000 Cash Transfer beneficiaries.”

The returned loot fund followed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed by the Governments of Nigeria and Switzerland with active CSOs participation led by ANEEJ, earmarking the money specifically for the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme  under the Government’s Social Investment Programme, monitored by the World Bank. Specifically, the money was earmarked to be spent on the poorest of the poor Nigerians whose status were appraised and arrived at by the National Safety-Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) under the supervision of the Office of the Vice President.

Under the MoU signed for the repatriation of the funds, it was stated clear and in unequivocal terms the modalities for the return of the money, its usage, monitoring both locally and abroad, international and local organisations that would ensure that the money is utilized for the benefit of the poor, downtrodden and the underprivileged persons in Nigeria.

From the above, we can tell that the Abacha loot has been ear marked for the poor Nigerian masses, but out of the 322 million dollars only 22 million dollars has been granted to the SIP. The question is where is what is left of the Abacha’s loot. What has it been used for?

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