Country Director, Action Aids Nigeria, Ene Obi has called on the federal government to not only focus on Abacha’s loot, but also to hunt down other looters of public funds past and present and get the stolen money back from them.
She said that as of today there are many of them in the country and the government should go after them without sparing anyone.
She said that as important as recovering the stolen money is to the country, it is more important that the government is transparent and accountable for its spending, even down to the last cent of recovered loot and other public funds.
One made this appeal in an exclusive interview with Sunday Tribune when her response was asked to the federal government’s plan to spend the $23.4 million Abacha loot the US government had agreed to repatriate to the Nigerian government for road projects. .
She said that while Abacha’s loot can never be a solution to solve the economy or university education problem, the government hastily decided to use the money for road infrastructure, meaning it had no concrete plan for completing the project. those projects.
She said the issue of public college teachers, who have been on strike for more than six months and are still counting, concerns an agreement that is being broken by the federal government.
She said it was clear that the federal government is apparently not paying deserved attention to public university education because most of them in the corridor of power send their children to school abroad and therefore do not have to worry about what what happens to the children of the poor at home .
She said that if successive governments had paid enough attention to public education, Nigerians would not have gone abroad en masse to study.
She said it was disturbing that citizens only pay all forms of taxes without receiving the corresponding dividends from the government.
She said it is a pity that many Nigerians are now sending their children to Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo and even the Republic of Benin to study and that no one from any other country is interested in studying in Nigerian schools.
She said the development shows that political leaders at all levels of government are actually not focusing in the right direction.
For example, according to her, the University of Nairobi Kenya has regular students who attend classes from morning to 2:00 pm and another set comes in the evening under a private arrangement at the same university for those who can afford the money and they are both exposed to the same level of quality education.
“So the government should invest enough in public university education in the country, because that is the way to real progress for us as a country.
“It can arrange the system to accommodate students from both the poor and the rich homes, as is the practice in the developed world.
“There children of the poor are taxed differently than their peers from rich families and both have access to equal opportunities for quality education.
“The government of Nigeria can faithfully make a similar arrangement by using the parents’ earnings to charge their children for school fees,” she stressed.
Ms Ene said Nigerians are fed up with the government claiming to pump money into the 2nd Niger Bridge and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
She rhetorically asked how many times the government would award the contracts and where had the money claimed to have spent gone?
She said the government can make promises and do whatever it wants to do with the public money in the space of about nine months left to this government, people should be held accountable for their actions.
For example, she said, “People should be held accountable for the Ecological Fund to dredge the Nigeria and Benue rivers, the money for the energy sector, the governor’s security votes, and so on.
“So we don’t just have to focus on the Abacha loot, but the loot within the system also needs to be looked at internally.
She said Nigeria had enough money in the system that, if used wisely, would solve most of the country’s major problems.
Speaking further, the Action Aids boss said, while it is important to have good roads throughout the country, Nigerians should look at other levels of government and not just the federal government.
This is because some roads are supposed to be built by the state government and also the local government, but what is the status of those roads and what are the government layers they are supposed to do with their money?
“That’s why, for me, lack of transparency and accountability is the biggest problem we face as a country.
“But we have to do things right, starting with our political leaders to use public money for the benefit of every Nigerian, as we have no other country that we can call our own,” she emphasized.