President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the World Bank to do its best possible to facilitate the speedy repatriation to Nigeria of stolen funds still being held by Swiss authorities.
Buhari made the call at a meeting with the visiting Managing Director of the World Bank, Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati in Abuja yesterday.
According to him, the repatriation from Switzerland, of the additional 320 million dollars alleged to have been stolen from Nigeria during the Abacha regime, will help ease the current economic hardship in the country.
The President assured Indrawati that his administration was taking appropriate steps to ensure that public funds were no longer stolen or misappropriated by government officials.
Buhari said Nigeria needed 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 dollars is a lot of money and we will not allow it to be misappropriated or diverted,’’ he said.
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.
He 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 said 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.
In her remarks, 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.
‘‘We will strongly support you to create jobs and ensure prosperity in Nigeria,’’ she assured.
Indrawati also expressed the World Bank’s full support for the war against corruption being waged by the Buhari administration.
The Managing Director, who also spoke State House correspondents after a closed door meeting with the president, expressed satisfaction with Buhari’s economic, job-creation, poverty eradication and anti-corruption war.
She said that the bank would continue support the objectives of the Buhari-led administration aimed at boosting the nation’s economy.
“This is a very good opportunity to discuss with the government to understand the challenge the Nigeria’s economy is now facing, just like many other countries in the world we are faced with a weak global economy, low commodity price including oil price, the challenge of climate change and the security challenge.
“These are all the issues that we discussed and have a good opportunity to meet with all the government officials to understand.
“We also see that in Nigeria and the leadership of President Buhari is now launching the objectives of (government) first, of course, is restoring stability and security.
“The second one is creating jobs, eradicating poverty and the third is fighting against corruption. I think this is a very commendable goal.
“So, we discussed with the government about how we can support more in order for the government under the leadership of the president to achieve these goals,’’ she said.
She said that the bank would support Nigeria’s efforts towards the diversification of its economy away from oil
Indrawati also expressed the readiness of the World Bank to assist Nigeria in ensuring effective and transparent implementation of its annual budgets to achieve the desired goals.
“We also discussed more in terms of the need of the economy to diversify away from oil.
“We will want to support all those objectives in order for Nigeria to have healthy, stronger and transparent budget which can be very useful and effective in addressing the issue of poverty and creating a healthy and inclusive growth.’’
She stated that the meeting with Buhari afforded her the opportunity to discuss how the bank would assist in cushioning the hardships being faced by Internally Displaced Persons in the North East states of the federation. (NAN)