Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari is on top of the pack when it comes to actively fighting corruption in Africa. His message resonated with a country desperate for change in 2015 and as a result, he unseated Goodluck Jonathan, an unprecedented upset in Nigerian history. In 2015, Buhari was riding on a high wave of popularity with approval ratings hitting the sweet region of 80%. This was a man loved by his country and one does not wonder why. After all, international media has rightly labeled an "anti-corruption crusader". He is irresistible! Doubts have, however, been prevalent over what recovered loots from the "crusades" are being used for. The opacity has not been healthy.
The President has now descended into the arena to make it clear that looted wealth is being used to build Nigeria's infrastructure. In his All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate acceptance speech, Buhari said, "We are attacking corruption head-on. With international support, we are recovering Nigerian stolen assets and applying them to infrastructural developments."
In as much as this is a very progressive use of stolen wealth, the President offered nothing concrete to back up his claim. As The Nigerian Guardian notes, "The President was, however, not specific on the infrastructural developments ongoing with the recovered funds." Be that as it may, this seems to be better use of recovered loots than that of the recently repatriated Abacha funds. More than $300 million of Abacha's loot will be shared among the poor in Nigeria with 300,000 families set to get $14 per month for around six years. The payments are part of the the Nigeria National Social Safety Net Program (NAASP) and will be audited by the World Bank.
It is unclear why the government did not implement projects that make these communities self-sustainable instead of giving them handouts. In fact, one school of thought says Buhari is buying votes and without an intelligent counter, the allegation becomes more plausible by the minute. What the government is claiming to be doing with other loots is what should have been done with the Abacha loot. Recovered loots should better the lives that looters intended to impoverish. As the walls of corruption are wrecked, walls of modern infrastructure should tower over cities as a bold proclamation of intention. Nigeria means business.
Header Image: Construction Review