Says move intended to stop National Assembly and MDAs from diversion
General Sani Abacha’s $311 million loot, which was returned to the nation, was paid directly to contractors for work they performed for the government, according to information released by the presidency yesterday. The National Assembly and the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) would not be able to reroute the funds, according to the statement.
The federal government had received $311,797,866.11 as part of the previous military dictator’s recovered assets in May. The sum, which was returned from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey, was intended to hasten the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano road, and the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
During a Twitter town hall sponsored by the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Media Center, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Public Affairs, Ajuri Ngelale, described how the presidency prevented the National Assembly from diverting the funds.
Ngelale stated that without building the infrastructure, the nation would not be able to increase its revenue base while outlining the administration of President Buhari’s performance, particularly in the area of infrastructure.
According to Ngelale, “The cycle does not begin until you put the infrastructure on the ground. What we’ve been doing for the last 40-50 years before this administration was essentially living on borrowed time, where you have oil revenues coming in very effortlessly and all of that and we’re simply sharing it across import purchase and other forms of misuse.”
Ngelale outlined how the Buhari administration came up with creative financing solutions to address the nation’s infrastructure deficit after 50 years of neglect. He said that the Sukuk bond, which he claimed was oversubscribed when it was floated, was issued in 2017 as a result of this.
The presidential aide stated, “So, I think the country was shocked when there was an oversubscription to the tune of about 120 per cent. When we were asking for N100 billion and we came away with about N133 billion due to oversubscribed Sukuk from the private investors on the stock market.”
The Sukuk bond was oversubscribed, according to Ngelale, because investors had faith in the verifiable channels the government had established for Sukuk fund application. He said that the money would be used to build roads, and investors would receive their money back when the roads were used.
The second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Expressway, and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Expressway were all built thanks in large part to the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which was established by the federal government.
Ngelale declared: “So you have three major projects under the PIDF that we have been able to fund directly to the contractor through the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
“And Nigerians have seen the truth of that, we don’t have to boast about it or talk about it because they can see it. Whether it’s a Second Niger Bridge, whether it’s the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway or whether it’s the Abuja-Kano, they know the work that is going on, it’s not in dispute.
“And because of the structure of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund conceived by President Muhammadu Buhari, nobody, no middleman can put his finger on a kobo of that money on $1 of that money.
“And, of course, we’ve been able to further galvanise other funding inputs from, of course, the Abacha loot, signing deals with the with the US government and the Jersey authorities to ensure that $311 million was put back into those three projects, with each project taking about $103 million or 33.3 per cent of the total Abacha loot that was sent back.
“So, that’s another one where we’ve been able to mobilise private and public financing to be able to directly get this money into the hands of contractors straight without National Assembly diversion, without MDAs diversion, and all of that.”
Ngelale predicted that the Second Nigeria Bridge, Lagos-Sagamu-Ibadan Expressway, and Apapa-Oworonsoki-Tollgate Road will all be finished by December 2022. The Lekki Deep Sea Port will be finished by the end of this year, he said, while the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway would be finished in 2023.