Written by Williams ABAH, Edrina EMMANUEL

Abacha loot should be invested not shared- Abuja residents








Recently, the presidency announced its decision to share $322million repatriated by the Swiss government from the billions looted by late Head of State, General Sanni Abacha, to the poorest of the poor. The government explained that the decision was in keeping with the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed with the Swiss government and the network of civil societies. However, some Abuja residents who spoke with Williams ABAH and Edrina EMMANUEL, faulted the move but rather called for investment of the funds. Excerpts:


DANIEL OKOLO: For me, I think relevant authorities should first of all carry out further investigations on the looted funds to know which sector the money was stolen from, for accurate disbursement of the funds.

Over the years, the Nigerian masses have suffered in the area of infrastructure such as basic healthcare, power supply, and other social amenities. You will agree with me that during military rule, all the civil policies were turned upside down.

Now that the money has been recovered, there is need to ensure that the funds are channelled to appropriate agencies of government where the money was originally allocated so that some of the projects that were abandoned during the military era could be attended to.


ADEBAYO ABDUL: When I heard that the recovered Abacha loot will be shared to the poor, I just laughed in my mind. Nigeria has no data of how many poor persons it has. For me, this is a calculated attempt towards 2019, general elections.

It has been the traditional practice of politicians in this country to use all kinds of gimmicks when elections are drawing near to entice the electorate. How feasible is this disbursement of the said fund to the poor when we don't even have a database to ascertain the number of poor people in Nigeria?

What the government needs to do is to channel the recovered loot to all productive ventures across the country. Look at the ailing industries scattered all over the country. That money should be use to revive them so that Nigerians will be gainfully employed.

As we speak, the Abuja industrial estate at Idu, is lying down with bushes. Nothing has been done there to attract companies to move their manufacturing plants from Lagos to Abuja. I think these are areas government needs to focus its attention in order to reduce the level of unemployment in the country.


NATHANIEL LORSHAGHER: I think it’s a decoy to get people into believing that the current administration is up to something good for the people.

Let us not be quick to forget that elections are less than a year from now. Such actions will aim at making people forget all the bad things that have been done by this present administration.

In summary, I think it's a scam or else, why is the money not meant for all 36 states? They mean to say that only 19 states out of 36 have poor people? We need to ask the right questions. I do not believe the loot will be shared equally, it will only end up in the pockets of our politicians.


ISAAC RUFAI: I do not think that sharing the Abacha loot amongst the poor will make things better. Besides, what is the guarantee that the money will be disbursed equally? And how long will the government be doing this for them?

Government will most likely share the money once and the rest of the loot will not be heard of again. Rather than share the loot among the poor, why can’t the federal government create opportunities for young Nigerians? Why can’t they set up entrepreneurship programs in all 36 states, including the FCT?

With entrepreneurship programs in place, government would not need to spoon-feed the poor, but empower them not to be dependent on government.


DAVID IBIOME: It’s unclear to say if the federal government has good or bad intentions about the issue of sharing the Abacha loot among poor Nigerians.

How would they know poor families? It is not just about announcing that they will share the money amongst the poor, they have to do a lot of homework for this to happen.

In my opinion, if the federal government is sure it will be diligent and fair in sharing this loot, then it is not a bad idea. If not they should use the money to empower young Nigerians. For instance, we need a more developed Power and IT sector. We have a long way to go in developing this country.


ABU SHUIBU: I welcome the fact that the anti-corruption fight has gone beyond the frontiers of this country. I think the Federal Government has taken the right step. The high rate of poverty in Nigeria is as a result of mismanagement of public funds.

So if government has taken a decision to disburse the money belonging to Nigerians who are supposed to be the direct beneficiaries of these funds, it means the present administration is doing things differently. 

But I think government needs to carry out comprehensive mapping to ensure that it has data that captures the very poor. If we have good data before the disbursement, it would go a long way to address similar issues in the near future. I want to advice government to ensure that it captures the diverse interest of all Nigerians.















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