Government Should Consult Nigerians On How Recovered Loots Could Be Spent, Says Prof. Egwu
A Professor of Political Economy and Development Studies, University of Jos, Prof. Samuel Egwu, has advised the All Progressives Congress-led government to consult widely with Nigerians on how to spend the recovered loots.
Egwu contended that within the range of issues that the government is committed to, there are priorities for Nigerians, adding that wide and robust consultations with the stakeholders will throw up priority areas which will ensure that government carries people along in terms of what needs are urgent for the people.
He argued that some of the returned money would also require some conditionalities on the part of countries that are helping Nigeria to recover the money. He cited Abacha loot as a reference point.
According to the university don, “the intention of the Swiss government at that point in time was that such money be channelled into the welfare of Nigerians. But it was unfortunate that the last government did not budget this money for those needs and instead put it into a larger Nigerian budget and therefore it was very difficult to track the extent to which money was actually utilised for the purposes.
“And I understand that the set of Abacha’s looted funds that they want to return to Nigeria is something they are willing to return in the context of some understanding of the framework of spending and for monitoring.”
He pointed out: “My position on that is that, yes, the Swiss government could be right given the experience under Jonathan. Nevertheless, the position is that money returned to Nigeria illegally stolen by Nigerians belongs to Nigerian people and therefore we must have sovereign power to determine how these monies are spent.”
“Nevertheless, in exercising our sovereignty, we should also insist that we spend in a very wise way that will not disappoint countries that are helping us to recover looted funds.”
Egwu’s reaction to those Nigerians who are impatient about how the money recovered so far is being spent, is that Nigerians are very difficult people “and where you expect them to be critical, they are never critical. A lot of people I have heard speak about this government as if they are oblivious of the fact that because of the mistake of our post– independence existence, where we failed to diversify the economy and continue to rely on one source of export, that we are in trouble because the price of that export commodity has fallen.
“People don’t even seem to think that this is an important issue of reflection and therefore is not about whether the APC government is irresponsible or not. This is a national situation and therefore all of us must be very sober in our criticisms and in our comments and we must behave like true patriots who must recognise that this is a reflection of our past errors that we need to think about a way forward.”
He advised critics of the government to be patient, as they have no choice because President Buhari cannot run the economy with his money. It has to be Nigeria’s money.”
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