By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Going by the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) statement on the recovered $311 million repatriated funds, it is clear that the opposition party is salivating over Abacha loot, saddened by a missed opportunity to share the money as they used to.
This was expressed in a statement from the All Progressives Congress (APC), signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, made available on Wednesday May 6, 2020.
“Unfortunately, PDP is unable to rid corruption from its DNA and until the party has the courage to burn its corruption handbook to ashes, it would be difficult for it not to hallucinate over public funds.
“Of course, we understand PDP’s frustrations. Their unsuccessful and serial attempt to tar the APC government with the corruption toga in order to blur its own image as a party that personifies corruption in words and deeds has turned the party into a laughing stock.
“For the umpteenth time, we remind the PDP that the government that the APC runs is not about sharing public funds amongst the ruling class, but about using tax payers’ money to impact positively on the lives of the people.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Federal Government on Monday confirmed the receipt of some $311million, stolen from Nigeria during the military regime of Gen. Sani Abacha and repatriated from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.
“The recovery consolidates on President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to recover our stolen commonwealth and other proceeds of corruption – locally and internationally. Recall that this administration similarly recovered $322 million from Switzerland in 2018, as part of monies stolen by Abacha which has been transparently and judiciously deployed in the funding of social investment programmes, including the free school feeding scheme, stipends for millions of disadvantaged citizens, and grain grants for those in severe food hardship as specified in the agreement signed with the Switzerland and the World Bank.
“Nigerians living on the margins and affected by the economic effect of COVID-19 have also benefitted from government palliatives partly funded by the recovered stolen funds.
“On the recovery of $311million, we refer the PDP to the 2020 Asset Return Agreement which requires the fund to be transferred to a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Asset Recovery designated
account and which would then be paid to the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) designated as the project management and execution authority within the next fourteen days.
“The federal government has committed itself that the assets will be invested in expediting the construction of major infrastructure projects across Nigeria, and particularly, this administration’s legacy projects, namely: Lagos – Ibadan Expressway; Abuja – Kaduna-Kano Expressway and the Second Niger Bridge as well as the Mambilla Power Project which, when completed, will provide electricity to some three million homes in Nigeria.
“We invite the PDP to join the clamour for greater cooperation amongst countries in honouring the international agreements set out in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and in the implementation of the Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) principles on the repatriation of stolen assets.
“The PDP should understand that the funds being repatriated under the President Buhari government is an indictment on successive PDP administrations which many countries found too corrupt and with a renowned propensity to reloot the stolen monies, hence they held on to much of the funds.
“When the PDP administration under President Olusegun Obasanjo left office on 29 May 2007, the government had recouped $2 billion, including the $825million previously retrieved by General Abdulsalami Abubakar. Switzerland and Bailiwick of Jersey also repatriated $149 million in November 2003 and £22.5 million in June 2011, among other international and local recoveries by successive PDP governments which were shrouded in secrecy.
“Successive PDP governments strangely resisted widespread calls to periodically publish detailed information on the loot recovery exercise – the amounts recovered, those from whom they were recovered, sources or countries from where they were recovered.
“More importantly, questions about how recouped funds were used were never addressed which led to lack of enthusiasm among host countries towards meeting Nigeria’s requests for the return of stolen assets, until now.
“It is clear that the US, UK and other countries holding our looted funds and assets have now found a trusted government led by President Buhari to return stolen assets and it is our collective pride as a country to regain the trust of the international community.”