By Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja
The Presidency described the recent repatriation of US $ 311 million to Nigeria by the government of the United States of America (USA) as a sign of growing respect for Nigeria and its government.
He noted that the fund, like those previously repatriated from countries such as the United Kingdom (United Kingdom) and Switzerland, had been earmarked for specific critical infrastructure projects in different parts of the country.
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President of Media and Advertising, Mallam Garba Shehu, the Presidency said that, unlike the period of previous administrations, when foreign countries lacked the courage to return these stolen funds recovered to the country, due to fears of lack of transparency and the possibility of such funds being plundered again, "repatriations are happening now because the Buhari government has proven to be reliable".
“On May 4, about $ 311 million – stolen from Nigeria's citizens during the Abacha regime – was safely returned to the United States.
“The most recent return is a testament to the growing and deepening relationship between the government of Nigeria and the government of the United States.
“Without the cooperation of the UK government, the US Executive Branch and the US Congress, we would not have been able to return these funds.
“For years, many countries have found successive Nigerian administrations to be very corrupt, very venal and very likely to waste and steal the stolen money – so that they do not return the funds.
“Today, USA, UK and other jurisdictions have found a partnership with the nation of Nigeria that they can finally trust.
“The Buhari government is committed to – and is adopting – total and zero tolerance for corruption in politics and public administration.
“The days when the government was seen and used by the political class as their personal ATM to empty the treasury are over. The time has come for better governance and clean hands in State affairs, ”said the statement.
He also noted that the reimbursements made so far by the various Abacha looting caches in different countries have been instrumental in fixing, to a large extent, the country's infrastructure deficits, adding that it has helped in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic novel (COVID-19) in the country.
“These funds have already been allocated and will be used entirely for the development of vital infrastructures and expired for decades: the Niger's second bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressways – creating tens of thousands of construction jobs Nigerian and local skills, which can be useful in future projects.
“Part of the funds will also be invested in the Mambilla Power Project, which, when completed, will provide electricity to about three million households – more than 10 million citizens – in our country.
“The receipt of these stolen funds – and the hundreds of millions that have already been returned from the United Kingdom and Switzerland – are an opportunity for the development of our nation, which has been made very difficult in these decades when the country was deprived of these funds.
“In fact, the previous money returned last year from Switzerland – about $ 320 million – is already being used for the government's free school meal regime, a scholarship for millions of disadvantaged citizens and grain grants for people in difficulty. to feed.