25 states benefit N13bn cash transfer from Abacha’s loot

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TRACKING >>Over N13 billion of sleaze funds recovered from late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha has been disbursed to 394,430 vulnerable people in 25 states across Nigeria as at May 2019.

This was revealed by the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Investment, Mrs. Maryam Uwais.

According to the presidential aide, the bulk of the money was sourced from some of the loots recovered from the former Head of State. This is apart from the N4 billion from the IDA credit.

Mrs. Uwais, who spoke on Utilisation of Recovered Assets for Public Good, Social Intervention Programme in Focus at a conference on Agenda Setting for Citizens Interaction with Stolen Assets Recovery organized by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in Abuja, last week, said the implementation of the project has helped uplift millions of direct and indirect poor beneficiaries.

“As at the May 2019 payment cycle, $37,041,810 has been disbursed from the Abacha loot and $13,497,769 from IDA credit to a total of 394,430 PVHHs across 25 states across the country.

“The impact these Cash Transfers have made on improving household consumption and sustainable livelihoods cannot be overemphasized as most of the beneficiaries were living in extreme poverty. Children are going back to school, small trades and livelihoods are springing up; confidence and self-esteem slowly growing,” Uwais said.

She said part of the Abacha loot is being utilized to effect N10,000 bi-monthly cash transfer to beneficiaries, through the operations of the National Social Investment Office operating from the Office of the Vice President.

Emphasizing what informed the government’s decision, Uwais said that in December 2014, a Swiss Judge gave a Forfeiture Order to the effect that monies ($322.5 million) recovered from the family of late General Sani Abacha would be returned to Nigeria, one of the conditions being that the World Bank would be involved in monitoring disbursements of the funds.

She said this was as a consequence to the opaqueness that surrounded the application of recovered funds prompting the World Bank to raise concerns, some of which were who would bear the cost element of monitoring such disbursements and also the question of transparency.

According to her, the impact of adopting social safety net programmes to address poverty has continued to facilitate economic growth in Africa (and many other developing countries), leading to buoyant commodity prices and better macroeconomic management.

“It is imperative that Nigeria also leverages on this initiative to wage war against poverty in our country. We all have a collective responsibility and role to play to promote socio-economic growth in our nation. Nigeria is such a vast and diverse terrain, there are bound to be attempts at shortchanging the process or our beneficiaries.

“The majority of our beneficiaries are not exposed, literate or adept at financial transactions. At the very least, all of us can monitor and report grievances through the phone numbers provided in our call centre, or by escalating grievances, if any, through the numerous strands that have been established by the programme. We must all actively participate in the effort to enhance the conditions of our more marginalized citizens, depending on our skill sets, passion and empathy,” she said.