*90% of looted funds ferried abroad
Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay disclosed that 55 top Nigerians in government and private business looted N1.35 trillion under the watch of Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umar Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
He spoke at a conference on Promoting International Co-operation in Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Enhancing Asset Recovery to Foster Sustainable Development.
According to Prof Itse Sagay, the corruption cases were captured in a study covering 2006 to 2013.
While lamenting hundreds of uncompleted projects spread across the country, Sagay, noted that Nigerian elites derive pleasure in sharing funds meant for important projects.
His words, “55 top government officials and private businessmen illicitly deviated in total N1.35 trillion roughly at that time $7.5 million to themselves at the expense of ordinary Nigerian citizens. This was what was revealed. What was not revealed turned out to be far more mind boggling. This include trillions squandered in fuel subsidy scam, billion Dasukigate scam, hundreds of millions of dollars taken from the NNPC by the former minister to bribe election officials in 2015, the list goes on.
Prof Itse Sagay said “One third of stolen funds could have provided 600.18 kilometers of road, 36 ultra modern hospitals per state, that would have provided education for children from primary to tertiary level at the rate of N5.34 billion per child and 20,062 units of two-bedroom houses. The amount stolen would have done all these.
“As I was putting my thought to paper on Thursday 1st June, a newspaper headline kept screaming at me: N423 billion Niger Delta projects misappropriated by the ministry of Niger Delta.
“So you can see that the corruption onslaught is devastating and unrelenting this driving us further and further from our sustainable development goals.
“I have always said it and you know Nigerians don’t like the truth, but this is the truth, give our elites an opportunity to do a project, vote money for that project, the first thing they do is divide that money amongst themselves.
“Nigeria has largest number of uncompleted projects in this world, many people just take the money and walk away in collusion with the ministries and agencies that awarded the contracts.
“Let me draw the connect between unrestrained looting and illicit financial flows. Most of the financial assets stolen in Nigeria are taken out of the country as part of the illicit financial flow. The immediate impact is that Nigeria is deprived of the capacity to realise its sustainable development goals of the UN officially known as transforming our world. These include no poverty (eradication of poverty), zero hunger (eradication of hunger), good health, quality education, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy etc.
“It is hard for any country to achieve that when it has looted 90% or its resources and this haemorrhage is leaving our shores under-developed world to the developed world, developing them more while we are regarding.
“The annual flow of criminal activities is estimated at between $1 and $1.6 trillion and half of this comes from developing countries like ours.
“It is therefore vital that we increase our capacity of understanding the illicit financial flows, the haemorrhage if we are to meet our sustainable goals or if we are ever to transform something better. We have to acquire the capacity to stop the haemorrhage,” he counselled.
The conference was attended by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who said it was the first time he would be attending a conference that talks about recovering assets and what to do with the stolen assets.