Okonjo-Iweala Explains How Obasanjo’s Administration Spent $500m Abacha Loot

Abacha Loot And A Dismantled Cartel - By Sufuyan Ojeifo
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General-Sani-Abacha
General-Sani-Abacha

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has explained how

the Olusegun Obasanjo administration spent the loot recovered from the

late maxiumn dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha.

She said that contrary to reports that the sum of $2bn was recovered

from Abacha’s loot,  only $500m was recovered under her watch when she

was first made finance minister.

The minister made the clarification amidst conflicting figures about

the actual amount recovered.

For instance, speaking in London in November 2006, the pioneer

Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu

Ribadu, had said that “Abacha took over $6bn from Nigeria,” and that

$2bn of the loot had been recovered.

Ribadu repeated the same figure in the same month during the 12th

International Anti-Corruption Conference in Guatemela.

Three months ago, Ribadu repeated the same claim in Dakar at the 2nd

Annual High Level Dialogue on Governance and Democracy in Africa.

As Minister of Finance in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration,

Okonjo-Iweala, in 2005 – a year before Ribadu made his claim – at a

news conference in Switzerland reportedly said that Nigeria had

recovered about $2bn total of asset from Abacha.

But reacting to the conflicting claims on the stolen money, the

minister who spoke through her Special Adviser Communication, Mr. Paul

Nwabuikwu, said that the recovered $500m under her watch was verified

and used in a structured manner for developmental projects.Nwabuikwu

said, “The minister did not say only $500m was recovered as the entire

loot of Abacha. What she actually said was that under her watch when

she was in government as a minister, it was that amount that was

recovered. And that money was used in a structured way to carry out

some programmes of government.

 

“You will recall that at a point, she left government to return after

some years and she cannot be held accountable for whatever happens

when she was not in office.

“So the bottom line is that only $500m was the amount recovered when

she was in government.”

 

On how the funds were utilised, the minister through her special

adviser said part of the recovered loot was used to fund projects in

the power, health, works, health, education and water sectors.

The minister supported her claims with a report jointly prepared by

the World Bank and Ministry of Finance – a copy of which was made

available to our correspondent,

 

According to the document, the sum of N21.70bn was spent on power

(rural electrification and power generation); N18.6bn on works

(priority economic roads); and N10.83bn on health (primary health care

and vaccination programme).

 

Also, N7.74bn was utilised on basic and secondary school education

(primary schools, junior secondary schools and federal government

colleges) and N6.20bn on water (potable water and rural irrigation).


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