President Muhammadu Buhari has said that gone were the days in Nigeria when public funds would be freely stolen or misappropriated by public officials, saying that his administration owed it as a duty to Nigerians protect and judiciously use their common patrimony.
This was as the president appealed to the World Bank to facilitate the timely repatriation of Nigeria’s stolen funds still being held by the Swiss authorities. President Buhari spoke while meeting with the visiting Managing Director of the World Bank, Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati in Abuja on Wednesday. He noted that the amount involved was so huge, stressing that if returned, it would will help to ease the current economic hardship facing the country.
‘‘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. “Three hundred and twenty million dollars is a lot of money and we will not allow it to be misappropriated or diverted,’’ President Buhari told Ms. Indrawati.
It would be recalled that one of the conditions given by the Swiss Authorities for the repatriation of the funds was that the money 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. In a statement by Mallam Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant on media and publicity, President Buhari also assured the World Bank Managing Director that his administration would honour all agreements with the Bank that would help to stimulate Nigeria’s economy and reduce the level of poverty in the country.
He also said that Nigeria would appreciate 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. Speaking at the meeting, Ms. Indrawati told President Buhari that the World Bank was ready to use its knowledge, expertise and resources to help Nigeria achieve faster growth and development even as she also expressed the World Bank’s support for the war against corruption being waged by the Administration. ‘‘We will strongly support you to create jobs and ensure prosperity in Nigeria,’’ she said.