There are debates on how the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government should spend the $311m Abacha loot recently recovered from the United States of America.
The US government on May 1, transferred a total sum of $311,797,876 to the FG in accordance with a February 3, 2020 trilateral agreement among the governments of the United States. Nigeria and the Bailiwick of Jersey to repatriate assets the United States forfeited that were traceable to a former dictator Sani Abacha and his co-conspirators.
The funds returned are distinct and separate from an additional $167 million in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152 million still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.
The US government and Nigeria’s Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the recovered funds will help finance the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja-Kano road.
Nigerians attack AGF Malami The presidency maintained that the funds have already been allocated, and will be used in full, for the second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressways.
A presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, added that “part of the funds will also be invested in the Mambilla Power Project which, when completed, will provide electricity to some three million homes – over ten million citizens – in our country.”
However, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP has demanded that the funds should be surrendered to the National Assembly for proper statutory appropriation.
The party also urged Nigerians to resist “schemes by the cabal” to prevent them from demanding explanations on the alleged looting of repatriated funds.
President Muhammadu Buhari and late Gen. Sani Abacha The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, claimed that it uncovered “fresh plots by the cabal in the Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to use fake subheads and duplicated projects as a ploy to re-loot.”
The party alleged that the cabal had perfected the use of fake subheads as nomenclatures to mislead those who repatriated the fund and “pave way for the frittering of the money to their private pockets as they had done with earlier repatriated funds.”
Investigation: N1.4trn Abacha loot returned in 18 years The PDP claimed that part of the strategies of the cabal was to hype hazy subheads and stampede the dissipation of the funds without the statutory approval of the National Assembly, which would enable them to “muddle up accountability processes, conceal their fraud and divert the attention of the unsuspecting public from the scam.
At the present official CBN rate of N390 to a dollar, Daily Trust Online reports that the fund is N121.3bn and it is enough to fund either of these projects. Nigeria can build 5,500 Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs), or may choose to build 40,333 units of two-bedroom homes to cushion the housing deficit in the country.
It may also choose to use the fund for 35,920 additional classrooms that could cut classroom shortage by 15.5 percent nationwide. 40,000 housing units for Nigerians In 2019, the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) said Nigeria has a 22 million housing deficit. Records from the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing estimates that with N3m, one can build a block of two-bedroom flat.
If the government decides to channel the N121.3bn Abacha loot to bridging the 22m housing infrastructure deficit, Nigerians will have 40,333 more units of two-bedroom flats nationwide.