General Sani Abacha’s $311 million plunder, 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 on Sunday.
The federal government had collected $311,797,866.11 as part of the previous military dictator’s seized assets in May. The sum, which was returned from the United States and the Bailiwick of Jersey, was intended to hasten the building 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 president blocked the National Assembly from diverting the funds.
Ngelale stated that without building the infrastructure, the nation would not be able to increase its income base while outlining the administration of President Buhari’s performance, particularly in the field 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 explained that considering the infrastructure deficit in the country, the Buhari government devised innovative ways to finance, to bridge 50 years of infrastructure neglect in the country. He said it was based on this that the Sukuk bond was issued in 2017, which he said was oversubscribed when it was floated.
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.”
Ngelale explained that the Sukuk bond was oversubscribed because investors had confidence due to the verifiable mechanisms put in place by the government for the Sukuk fund application. He said the fund would go towards the construction of roads and the investors would get the money back through the utilisation of those roads
The presidential aide added that the federal government also initiated the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), which helped to provide a large sum for the construction of three major projects – the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan Expressway, and Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria Expressway.
Ngelale stated, “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 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 said the Apapa-Oworonsoki-Tollgate road would be completed by December 2022, just like Lagos-Sagamu-Ibadan Expressway and Second Nigeria Bridge. He said the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway would be completed in 2023, while the Lekki Deep Sea Port would be completed by December this year.