President Buhari’s assurance to go after looted funds stashed away abroad is good news. No country can achieve development with corruption. Indeed, no country can afford to allow looted funds to be transferred abroad by corrupt officials at the expense of the country and its people. Therefore, we should welcome every effort by the Buhari administration to go after looted funds kept abroad in foreign banks. We need comprehensive loot recovery efforts to achieve the goals of reinvesting stolen money into social services.
Before the election of President Buhari administration into office, all the loot recovery efforts were exclusively concentrated on the Abachas, despite the fact that billions of dollars stolen by other public officials are still stashed away in foreign banks. Former President Obasanjo didn’t show much enthusiasm to recover looted funds taken out of the country by other corrupt Nigerians. He focused more interest on the Abacha loot as if fighting corruption begins and ends with the Abachas.
As a result, the loot recovery efforts of the former Obasanjo administration lost credibility in the eyes of Nigerians mainly because they didn’t see enough enthusiasm to recover stolen funds taken away abroad by other corrupt officials. No government can fight corruption with insincerity. In fact, the one-sided efforts in loot recovery insult the intelligence of Nigerians.
How much of the billions stolen by public officials under the Obasanjo administration were ever recovered? Did corruption end with the death of Abacha? Then why didn’t the former Obasanjo administration show any interest to go after looted funds stashed away by other officials that served in his government? The corruption by Abacha was not acceptable, but the concentration of loot recovery efforts on his stolen funds raises suspicions about the sincerity of these efforts.
President Buhari should investigate how the billions recovered from the Abachas were applied to the welfare of Nigerians. You cannot claim to recover stolen funds without accountability about how the funds were used for public welfare. What is the point seeking the cooperation of Switzerland and others Western countries to recover looted funds, and the monies cannot be properly accounted for by those to whom they were delivered?
In fact, what is the point recovering billions of looted funds which are then re-looted? If loot recovery does not benefit the citizens of the countries affected, are the efforts worth it? How would Western nations trust our government when they cannot see evidence of how looted funds are honestly managed for the benefits of ordinary Nigerians?
Nigerians don’t get excited about the news of loot recovery. And the simple reason is the lack of transparency in the management of the recovered monies. Furthermore, Nigerians are annoyed about recovered looted funds they cannot see. Why was the recovery of the Abacha loot always given maximum publicity, but nothing was usually heard about how the monies were used for the welfare of the citizens.
Fighting corruption s not enough if recovered funds cannot be accounted for by those to whom were handed over. The management of recovered funds should receive the same publicity as the recovery efforts. To assume that we have ended corruption in Nigeria with the recovery of the Abacha loot is sheer illusion. The anti-corruption crusade will lose credibility if the citizens cannot see evidence of how the recovered funds are used for their well-being.
President Mohammadu Buhari should pursue loot recovery with greater vigour, but he has to investigate the fate of the billions recovered from the Abachas. He has to make a difference by going after all looted funds. Recovering the Abacha loot is not enough to declare victory over corruption. Nigerians want to know what happened to the recovered Abacha funds. We can only achieve comprehensive loot recovery only if efforts are directed on all looted funds. We cannot achieve this goal if the recovery efforts are seen to be concentrated on one former public official.
Durbunde is of No. 59, Maiduguri Road, Kaduna

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