Nigerians React as FG Says $103.6m Disbursed to the Poor

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SWITZERLAND, OCTOBER 22 -Nigerians have once again, attacked the president Muhammadu Buhari administration after the Federal government with anger and disbelief after government said over $103 million recovered from former dictator, Sani Abacha’s loot, is being re-invested into the poor.

The Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais, said that the Federal Government has been channelling the recovered Abacha loot and the International Development Association /World Bank credit towards programmes and policies designed to address the plight of poor and vulnerable Nigerians.

Delivering an address on Monday at the training on illicit funds, the Presidential aide said from the August 2018 to the October payment cycle, the total amount disbursed from the Abacha loot was $76,538,530 and $27,099,028 from the IDA credit.

Uwais, who said the funds, which were specifically being disbursed to beneficiaries of the National Cash Transfer Programme, a component of the National Social Investment Programme, noted that the gesture was positively changing the fortune of many Nigerians.

She said the decision to distribute the Abacha loot and the IDA funds to poor and vulnerable Nigerians, who were mined from a National Social Register, collated by the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office, was reached by the Swiss government, the World Bank and the Federal Government.

This, she said, would help to ensure that the funds were well utilised and not diverted to private pockets, as was the case in the past.

“In December 2014, a Swiss judge gave a forfeiture order to the effect that the money ($322.5m) recovered from the family of late General Abacha would be returned to Nigeria, one of the conditions being that the World Bank would be involved in monitoring disbursements there from.

“Presumably, this was as a consequence to the opaqueness that surrounded the application of recovered funds,” Uwais said.

She said efforts to tackle poverty in Nigeria must also take into consideration the basic and peculiar needs of the people.

The Presidential aide expressed regret that there were millions of Nigerian citizens who had never felt the presence of government in their lives, adding many of them had continued to struggle to eat one meal a day.”

Uwais listed key achievements of the Cash Transfer Programme funded with the Abacha loot and IDA loan facility to include enrolment and payment of 620,947 beneficiaries across 29 states.

But Nigerians argue that they have not seen the effect of the huge social investment being touted by the government. And in the usual tradition of lack of trust in the government, Nigerians are doubting government’s claims. Many believe the bulk of the Abacha loot will still end up in the pockets of powerful people in government.

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