USE FOREIGN LOOT TO REVAMP NORTH EAST ECONOMY
The federal government may not need to borrow $2bn from World Bank to restructure the devastated North East. Better still pay back within a short period, if it can dust up the files of high profile corruption cases. For instance, the Halliburton $182M bribery scandal, $16bn power probe, reports of the Nuhu Ribadu – led Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force and the Farouk Lawan Committee on fuel subsidy probe the $600,000 alleged fuel subsidy bribery involving Farouk Lawan and Mr. Otedola, the SIEMENS bribery scandal of N2billion ($17.5 million dollars) etc. Most of these corruption scandals centre on the Nigerian National Petroleum Commission. Recently, the four man economic team led by Edo State Governor Comrade Adams Oshomhole accused the NNPC of illegally paying itself the sum of #3.8trillion and only returned #4.3trillion to the federation account since the past three years.
The estimated sum of $150bn (approximately #30trillion) is been sought by the Nigeria government with the aid of the United State government. Those who are in possession of the foreign loot are less than 3% of Nigeria's population of about 170million people. This mind-boggling amount is equivalent to Nigeria's budget for the next seven years. One-fifth of this stolen wealth of #5trillion is the budget of the embattled North Eastern region by the dreaded Boko Haram for the past 11 years. One important factor that will resuscitate the economy of the North Eastern region is the political will by government to fully recover, and reinvest the stolen wealth.
A major cause of the escalation of insurgency (in the once-peaceful Northern region) is the easy recruitment of almagiris by the terrorist group who capitalise on the constant increase in unemployment, increase of school age children out of school, non-implementation of free education and entrenchment of poverty in the North East and its environ, by mischievous politicians.
If the looted amount is adequately invested into key sectors, Nigeria's economy will hit the ground running. This stolen wealth can be invested in Schools, Primary Health Care Centres, fully equipped ultra model Hospital, construction of kilometres of roads, safe pipe borne water, improved MW of electricity, provision of housing units, Markets, and adequate security, among other basic amenities. It can end the fight against insurgency and resuscitate the embattled North Eastern-region, as well as the economic challenges of the IDPs.
A strengthening of ties with foreign countries who have the capacity to track foreign loots and a focused leadership that is determined to get rid of corruption will see our repatriated funds put into use that will rejuvenate our economy.
One way to encourage foreign direct investment is for government to strengthen its anti graft laws, with the full cooperation of the various arms of government aimed at quelling corruption. The fight against corruption should be seen as a way to help Nigeria earn its true leadership position in the comity of great Nations. Nigeria should be driven by the rule of law, irrespective of political or party affiliation, and nothing short of it.
***Charles Iyare, is the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ).