Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the World Bank to help Africa’s largest economy recover $320 million stolen and hidden in Swiss bank accounts by late military dictator Sani Abacha.
Buhari made the appeal during a visit by the World Bank Group Chief Operating Officer Sri Mulyani Indrawati to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, according to a statement released by the president’s office.
Authorities in Switzerland have agreed to return the funds on the condition that they are used for social programs in Nigeria monitored by the World Bank, according to the statement.
Buhari’s administration, which took office last year on an anti-corruption platform, has faced a cash crunch due to the falling price of oil which provided about two-thirds of government revenue and 90 percent of export earnings in 2014. Nigeria has been plagued for decades by graft and the nation came 136th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s 2015 world corruption index, discouraging repatriation of stolen loot.
“We need the support of the World Bank for the repatriation of the funds. We are as concerned as the World Bank about accountability. If such repatriated funds have been misapplied in the past, I assure you that the same will not happen with us.“$320 million is a lot of money and we will not allow it to be misappropriated or diverted,” President Buhari assured Indrawati.
One of the conditions given by the Swiss Authorities for the repatriation of the funds is that it should be expended on the implementation of social programmes for the benefit of the Nigerian people in an efficient and accountable way, guaranteed by the monitoring of the World Bank.
President Buhari also assured the World Bank Managing Director that his administration would honour all agreements with the bank that will help to stimulate Nigeria’s economy and reduce the level of poverty in the country.
He added that Nigeria would welcome greater international assistance for the rehabilitation of damaged homes, schools, health facilities and other infrastructure in the North Eastern states affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.