Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How Buhari Can Recover Stolen Billions, By UK Envoy
By Olugbenga Adanikin, Abuja
The Nation, Nigeria

British High Commissioner to Nigeria Sir Andrew Pocock has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to break up the system that produced corruption and pick areas of interest “one after the other” to recover stolen funds.

Buhari, during his meeting with the 36 state governors on Tuesday, vowed to recover the country’s stolen funds.

The state governors have been experiencing crises following their inability to pay workers’ salaries in their respective states.

Pocock said rather than addressing corruption as a whole, the President should, for instance, look into the military’s budget in terms of procurement or funds diverted from the Federation Account.

The ambassador, who spoke on a live programme on Channels TV, said the Nigerian military has a yearly budgetary allocation of about $5 billion, which, according to him, was sufficient to equip the armed forces.

He said: “Part of the issue is to trace and return stolen monies; but that is only a tip of the iceberg.

The real question is to break up the system routines, organisations and individuals that contribute to the leeching of Nigerian public money overseas. More important is to assault the mentality of seeing public money as a free gold.”

The envoy, who stated that he was not advising the President, added that Buhari might succeed, if he fights corruption across board.

“The way to do it is to pick areas of primary focus and zero in on that. So, if you are looking at military reform, it might be to look at procurement. If it is to look at the oil sector, it might be revenue diversion; money that never reaches the federation account never mind oil theft. So, to breakup corruption cocoon into project sizes, you can focus on a particular difficulty,” he said.

He added that the Swiss government had been reactive in returning some of the stolen money by former Military Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha.

According to Pocock, the present administration should complement its moves with actions to showcase that impunity was no longer a norm in the country.

On British intervention on insurgency, the ambassador assured of his country’s readiness to partner in the fight.

He said the British government was ready to train Nigerian Army battalion and brigades in Maiduguri.

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