FG to spend $322m Abacha loot on social intervention programmes

Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

The $322m alleged to have been looted by the late Nigerian military Head of State, Sani Abacha and repatriated by the Swiss Government to the Federal Government will be spent on various social intervention programmes provided for in the 2018 budget.

Former Head of State (1993-1998), Late Gen. Sani Abacha

About N500bn had been set aside in this year’s budget to implement various social intervention programmes of the Federal Government.

Some of the intervention programmes are the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power Job Creation Programme, Conditional Cash Transfers and Social Housing Fund.

Investigations by our correspondent on Friday in Abuja revealed that the $322m Abacha loot would be spent in accordance with the intervention programme which had been agreed between the Federal Government and the World Bank Group.

It was gathered that the Federal Government had decided to ensure that the money, which is still being kept in a special account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, is spent to reduce the level of poverty in the country.

This is expected to be achieved through targeted spending on social safety net programmes.

A top government official confided in our correspondent that one of the areas where the fund would be channelled into are the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, which is a social safety net programme for the poorest in the society.

Under the programme, the government would be supporting families that send their children to school with a monthly stipend of N5, 000.

Findings also revealed that part of the fund would be used to address some of the human capital challenges facing the country, such as reducing the number of out of school children, poverty reduction and maternal health, among others.

The official, who pleaded not to be named, said, “The $322m is in a specific account and it has been set aside for our Conditional Cash Transfer programme, which is a social safety net programme for the poorest.

“Those are the sorts of projects that we are focusing on. We are taking back these funds to those who need them, and to families that have nothing. It is expected that a poor family should get a stipend of N5, 000 if they send their children to school.”

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, had last month said that funds had been earmarked for the National Social Safety Nets programme of the government.

“The objective of the National Social Safety Nets Project for Nigeria is to provide access to targeted transfers to the poor and vulnerable households under an expanded national social safety nets system,” Adeosun had stated.

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