- President Buhari explained why his administration decided to disburse the recovered Abacha’s loot to poor Nigerians
- The president said the reason is to address the problem of extreme poverty and create social equality among Nigerians
- He gave assurance that the plan will work effectively, adding that his government is using international standards developed by the World Bank which has worked well in other African countries
President Muhammadu Buhari says the federal government signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Bank and Switzerland to share the loot recovered from Abacha to poor Nigerians so as to lift them out of poverty.
The president stated this at the inception meeting of the Mantra project on asset recovery and development in Nigeria organised by Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) in collaboration with World Bank and Switzerland government, Vanguard reports.
NAIJ.com gathered that President Buhari, who was represented at the occasion by his special adviser on justice sector reform, Barr. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu said the choice of investing the recovered loots in the Social Investment Programme (SIP) as captured in the MoU was taken to address the problem of extreme poverty and create social equality among Nigerians.
The president expressed his administration’s commitment to partnering with both local and internal partners to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the recovered loots.
He said: ‘‘We are determined to ensure all returned assets back to Nigeria are well utilized.
‘‘When it is returned we want Nigerians to know where this money is being invested in and that is why we signed the memorandum for understanding on the management of the returned assets from Switzerland. The $322million that was returned to Nigeria, we invited Civil Society Organisations to be part of the negotiation. After the negotiation by Nigeria with World Bank and Switzerland, we signed that memorandum to make sure that everybody can monitor the use of the funds.
‘‘The use of the funds to be applied to Social Investments, particularly to targeted cash transfer is to lift people out of poverty. We know people who are today in this country that wake up in the morning and don’t even know where to get their meal from. I’m sure you’ve experienced people within your communities so this whole project is to address that problem to create social equality, to provide opportunity.
‘‘There are several countries in Africa where this project has been implemented and it has worked perfectly well, so we are using international standards developed by the World Bank. The idea is if we can lift one person out of a household out of poverty, it will inevitably affect the entire family.
‘‘A woman was being paid five thousand naira consistently over time when this program started in 2016, the money she has been able to use it to buy cassava, she’s able to process cassava, she’s now selling garri. What it means is that every day she’s sure that her family will have something to eat and so we want that to happen to several millions of Nigerians, who are living below poverty line today.’’
Recall that the federal government’s Social Investment programme started in 2016 with the federal government budget.
In 2016, the federal government budgeted 500 billion naira to support the social investment schemes across the country.
It started with the Northeast due to the problem with the zone, where many people were displaced and so many people could not even go to their farms.
According to the AGF, all the 36 states of the federation today have signed onto the social investment program.
Earlier in his address, the chairman, Board of Directors of ANEEJ, Prof. Ben Aigbokhan said the MANTRA Project is a culmination of their commitment to the process of effective recovery and management of looted assets in Nigeria for over 20 years.
To advance the anti-corruption course, he said the organisation has engaged in advocacy, launched campaigns, attended conferences and meetings, contributed to processes of policy formulation and other activities with the objective of ensuring that assets looted from this country are returned and utilised for the benefit of the citizens of this country who continue to suffer as victims of corruption.
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NAIJ.com previously reported that a labour leader, Issa Aremu, expressed his support for the federal government’s decision to pay the $322 million Abacha loot as cash transfer to poor homes, through Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT).
Aremu who is an executive member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and general secretary of National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) in Kaduna frowned at the recent call by the National Assembly for the executive arm of government to pay the repatriated monies into the Consolidated Revenue Account and be distributed to the federating units in line with the current revenue sharing formula.
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