Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, wednesday disclosed that a large chunk of Nigeria’s funds stolen over the years are still in several bank accounts domiciled in some foreign countries.
He has, therefore, appealed to the United Nations Organisation (UNO) to assist in the repatriation of the identified looted funds.
Lawan, made the appeal yesterday evening while playing host to the United Nations Country delegation led by Mr. Edward Kallon, at the National Assembly, Abuja.
The Senate President, who was responding to concerns raised by the visiting delegation, said the fight against corruption in Nigeria continues to suffer setbacks due to the inability of the federal government to repatriate looted funds stashed away in foreign countries across the world.
He posited that such resources, if at the disposal of government, would go a long way towards addressing critical developmental and infrastructural deficits faced by the nation.
“So, much of Nigeria’s resources have been taken out of the country. But even when we identify embezzled funds, to get them back to Nigeria is a big deal. And in fact, we are suffering from that for years. We have had few occasions when we received some repatriation, but the bulk is still out there.
“We need UN to help us, because the kind of resources that are alleged to have been taken out of Nigeria will make the country a rich country if they are repatriated. We have never been a rich country, comparing the resources we have had, and the development challenges facing us till date. We are blessed and endowed, but we need every single kobo to be put into the development of this country,” the Senate President said
Lawan further lamented that due to lack of funds, the federal government resorted to obtaining domestic and foreign loans to fund capital projects in the 2020 budget.
Reacting to concerns raised over Nigeria’s rising population, he said, “I believe that if we are able to use our population to build the capacity of our population, Nigeria’s population will be a blessing not a curse or burden.
“It is our inability to provide for capacity building of the population, and addressing health issues and so on that makes Nigeria look like it is in bad shape”.
He expressed appreciation to the United Nations for its “supportive” role to Nigeria in response to the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in the country.
“We appreciate the role you play in our country. The UN has been so supportive in many ways, and of course, the recent support you have given is in the area of our response to COVID – 19. We started slowly in our response, but I think as a country we are now responding very well, and thank God we are also lucky we have very few incidents. There are countries that are more developed than Nigeria that are in a very dire situation as far as the COVID-19 menace is concerned,” he said.
Earlier in his remarks, leader of the United Nations delegation, Kallon said the UN invests about $750million on development assistance per annum in Nigeria.
According to him, “the UN is also very active on the humanitarian front in the country and our support to north east Nigeria, the epicenter of the crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
“We have been investing from $945million in 2017 to $878million in 2018, and $714million in 2019, and on an annual basis, the UN and its partners are assisting around 5.5million people in north east Nigeria. The total number of people in need of humanitarian assistance this year has varied from 6.2 million to 7.9 million as we speak.”