What does Nigeria have planned for Abacha’s Loot?

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Head of State of Nigeria General Sani Abacha arrives in Tunis, on June 6, 1994, to attend the 30th summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). (Photo credit should read FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

The Nigerian government on April 22, 2018, announced its plans to use the $322.52 million returned to the country by the Swiss government as part of the funds looted and stashed abroad by the late military dictator, Sani Abacha, to implement its National Social Welfare programs.

Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, announced this officially while speaking to the press at the end of the 2018 International Monetary Fund/ World Bank Spring meetings in Washington, United States, last month.

Sani Abacha was a Nigerian Army Officer and a politician who served as President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. It is not the first time stolen funds are being recovered in his name, in 2016, the Swiss government confirmed that it had so returned $723 million worth of hidden funds to the Nigerian government in the last 10 years.

What else do we know?

Nigeria is one of 4 countries being prioritised for asset recovery assistance. Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine are the other 3 countries prioritised for recovering funds similar to this.

The Federal Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in December 2017 with the World Bank and Switzerland for the return of $322.52 million stolen and kept away by the former military dictator, Sani Abacha.

All parties agreed that the funds will be placed within the framework of a project by the Muhammadu Buhari administration, known as the National Social investment Program (N-SIP), aimed at strengthening social security for the vulnerable in the country.

What is N-SIP?

N-SIP is an initiative aimed at reducing poverty and improving livelihoods of unemployed youths, women and children. The initiative has four components: N -power, National Homegrown School Feeding programme, conditional cash transfer and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).

N – Power, which is arguably the most popular intervention programme was designed to aid Nigerian youths in acquiring formal and non-formal skills. It covered health, agriculture, technology and teaching paid skill acquisition.

The objective of the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme is to ensure that 5 million primary school students in the country are fed with nourishing meals. Employing secondary beneficiaries like cooks and farmers, it also creates indirect employment.

Conditional cash transfer, on the other hand, caters to very poor families in local governments across the country. They are identified through their local governments and given a stipulated amount of cash monthly to improve their standards of living.

Finally, GEEP is executed by the Bank of Industry (BOI). The scheme essentially provides access to credit/loans for traders, youths and farmers repayable over a period of 6 months.

What next?

Although measured differently, all the above social intervention programmes have been running since established by the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Ploughing in the funds recovered in Switzerland will go a long way in ticking off the objectives of these schemes, further strengthening vulnerable Nigerians.

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