by Usman Alabi
The DG of the National Budget Office, Mr. Ben Akabueze yesterday disclosed that N288.6bn which also includes N97.6bn (the naira equivalent of $320 million expected from the Swiss government which is part of the recovered Abacha Loot) would be used to fund the budget.
If this has been adopted as an official policy before now, we would probably not find it difficult explaining what the previous recovered loots were used for. But most times, what we are told is that they have been returned to the treasury, something that cannot be verified because the system itself has been inundated with several ponzi schemes. Hence we have a situation where the recovered funds are re-looted or stolen again, just because there is no proper system of accounting for them.
Hence, this policy of using the funds to finance the budget is a welcome development. This is a better way to track looted funds. Before now, there had been questions as to what recovered loots are used for since the only thing we hear is the recovery of the fund but we never get to know what they are used for.
Perhaps, recession has helped us put on our thinking cap; could it be that the major reason why the government thought of this was because of the paucity of revenue to finance the budget caused by the economic recession presently being experienced in the country, making it difficult to judge what would have happened to the funds if the economy is not in the present quagmire.
The Abacha loot has been a pain in our neck since the inception of the fourth republic. Though the irony is that it has become like a wind fall, a kind of blessing, the loot never stop coming. Yet tracking these funds is a major problem. No one in government can tell us exactly what the recovered Abacha loots have been used for over the years. The reason is probably not farfetched; your guess is as good as mine.
This government came in to correct the ills of the past administration, to fight corruption. There is probably no government in the history of Nigeria that has been able to recover more stolen funds than the Buhari administration, and apart from the Military, no other government has taken it as its manifest destiny to fight corruption with passion than the present administration. Whether we like it or not, the fight is yielding results, not exactly in terms of prosecution of offenders but in terms of recovery of stolen funds.
This policy should however go beyond now, that even when the economy stabilizes and we find ourselves having recovered loots, the best way to put such to work is not to return it back to the treasury, but rather to invest it in a credible project.