President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has been urged to use part of the recently returned N9.63bn ($23,439,724million) Abacha loot to settle the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
This suggestion was made by Dachung Musa Bagos, a member of the House of Representatives, while speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Wednesday, August 24, 2022.
Recall that Nigeria and the United States of America (USA) on Tuesday, signed an agreement for the repatriation of $23,439,724 recovered funds said to have been looted by the late General Sani Abacha.
ASUU has been on strike since February this year over improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities, among other reasons.
One bone of contention for the academics is the non-payment of university revitalisation funds, amounting to about N1.1 trillion, as all efforts by the government to make the union end the strike have been successful.
While the government says it does not have enough funds to settle the lecturers, Bagos, who represents Jos South/Jos East, is wondering why the recent Abacha loot should not be used to settle ASUU.
Bogo said; “We have pressing needs. Like now, ASUU has been on strike, and the government is trying to settle those issues.
“As a representative of the people, if I have to argue where those funds should be channelled to on the floor, I will say, ‘Why can’t you channel this fund to ASUU so that most of the youths that are at home would go back to school?’ But some of the areas we feel that the executive is channelling those funds are not the immediate needs of Nigerians.”
He added, “This is my third year in the National Assembly, we have never discussed any of the recovered loot. We just sit down and we hear that the executive recovered loot and allotted the same to projects that they so desire.
“We believe that when we discuss these issues at the National Assembly, we appropriate those funds according to the needs of Nigeria, it is going to go a long way; not just the executive looking at it and alloting it (the fund) to what they feel it should be. The constitution has given us that right,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami has said the fund when returned will be invested in three ongoing projects by the Federal Government, including the ongoing Abuja-Kaduna road and the 2nd Niger Bridge.
Nigeria in the past have received the Abacha loot recovered by the UK, United States of America (USA), Switzerland and other countries.
During the General Abdulsalami Abubakar era in 1999, $750million was recovered while $1.2 billion was recovered in 2002; $149 million repatriated from Jersey Island, UK in 2003; $500 million recovered in 2004 from Switzerland, and another $458 million recovered in 2005 from Switzerland, all under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration also saw the recovery of $1 billion in 2012 and $380 million in 2015 respectively, both tranches from Switzerland.
Similarly, Liechtenstein and the United States repatriated the sum of $227 million and $48 million respectively in 2014 during Jonathan’s administration.
In 2020, during the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, $311 million Abacha loot was repatriated to Nigeria from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey.