By Idowu Abdullahi,
The Federal Government has disclosed that the country’s public health response and protocols alongside measures put in place in the fight against coronavirus were enhanced by monies stolen by a former military dictator, Sani Abacha, and other looters which were returned by foreign countries.
It said the recently returned $311 million US Dollars from the United State of America and the $320 million US dollars returned last year from Switzerland had been highly instrumental in funding the health response to the crisis and other ongoing developmental projects.
The Senior Special Assitant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said apart from deploying the monies stolen during the regime of the military dictator for the coronavirus response, the chunk of the returned loots was being used to finance several developmental projects across the country.
Shehu, through a statement released to newsmen on Tuesday, maintained that the monies present an opportunity for President Buhari’s administration to develop the nation and reposition it to acceptable standards amongst the committee of nations in terms of infrastructural development.
“These funds have already been allocated, and will be used in full, for vital and decades-overdue infrastructure development: The second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressways – creating tens of thousands of Nigerian construction jobs and local skills, .which can then 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 some three million homes – over ten million citizens – in our country.
The receipt of these stolen monies – and the hundreds of millions more that have already been returned from the United Kingdom and Switzerland – are an opportunity for the development of our nation, made far harder for those decades the country was robbed of these funds. Without these funds, the fight against Covid-19 would be even tougher,” the statement said.
He explained that the successful return of the looted funds remains a pointer to the incorruptibility of the current administration and the deepening relationship between the federal government and foreign governments.
“For years many countries deemed successive Nigerian administrations as too corrupt, too venal, and too likely to squander and re-steal the stolen monies – so they did not return the funds. Today, the US, UK, and other jurisdictions have found a partnership with the nation of Nigeria they can finally trust. The Buhari Administration is committed to – and is enacting – total and zero tolerance to corruption in politics and public administration,” the statement added.