Niger Delta

Abacha Loot And The $800 Million Loan Of Ministry Of Niger Delta Affairs

By Substance Nature


It sounds like a big joke, but at the same time very pitiable, that just when other regions of the country are sweeping safes in the bank to receive the latest shipment of tons of hard currencies from the Abacha loot hoarded somewhere in a bank in Jersey, United States of America, the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) is preparing grounds to take a loan to the whooping sum of S800million to complete the East West Road.

Director of Press at the Ministry of Niger Delta, Deworitse Patricia, quoted the Minister of State, Niger Delta, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, to have made a statement in connection with the said loan proposal during an interface with Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), at the instance of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts in the National Assembly.


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Alasoadura’s argument was that in order to optimally tap the economic potentials of the East-West Road, it was necessary that the entire length of the road reaching to Calabar in Cross River State, where the crippled Tinapa Export Free Zone is located, be fully developed as has always been promoted on the pages of newspapers by successive administrations.

According to the junior minister who was speaking the minds of his superiors, the additional 23.1 kilometres of the road is billed for completion between 2-3 years on condition that the loan request was granted for construction work to begin as soon as possible. Again, he disclosed that the road which originally was designed to be a dual carriageway has now been reduced to a narrow single lane on the pampered excuses of lack of resources.

The mention of “lack of resources” has attracted both attention and condemnation from many Nigerians. This is premised on the fact that, as confirmed in the latest official documents of a tripartite agreement reached between the United States, Nigeria and the Government of Jersey, where part of the Abacha’s loot amounting to $318, 460, 329 million dollars was domiciled, the entire Niger Delta as a whole was excluded from beneficiaries of the refunds.

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Instead, according to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami who signed the treaty on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 in Washington DC on behalf of the federal government, the money will be used for repairs of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kano Road, and completing the Second Niger Bridge. Yet, the US Department of Justice disclosed that also expected are $30milion (23million pounds) from Britain and $144 (111 pounds) from France.

Perhaps against this backdrop, President Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade has been brought under scrutiny by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP). The civil group has given the federal government a 7-day ultimatum to make public to Nigerians the balance sheet for the Abacha loot, with S5billion having been already recovered since 1999.

There can be no question about where the bulk or all the looted funds by the late Head of State had emanated from in a country that has depended religiously and jealously on the economics and politics of oil wells in the last 64 years.

The thought of an expressway running from the then Middle Belt down to the base of the delta, traversing Effurun in Warri, Delta State, through parts of Bayelsa, Rivers, and Akwa Ibom States, was first mulled in early 1970s. President Olusegun Obasanjo made that dream real when he finally awarded contract for the construction of the 338km road in 2006. However, it was during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan that the road was extended beyond Oron in Akwa Ibom to Odukpani in Cross River State, and the contract was said to have been awarded to CCECC.

For about 50 years, the East-West Road has had the unfortunate history of snail-speed construction or total abandonment over a long period of time. As it stands, many major portions including bridges have not been worked on or completed.

It therefore raised eyebrows when the Ministry of Niger Delta said S800million loan is to be collected to complete the Oron-Calabar section of the East-West Road within two to three years. To some keen followers of the misfortune of this road, that was first constructed in 1976, hosts crude oil tankers on daily basis, two questions that are begging for answers are: What happens to the recovered Abacha loot? how much longer will the songs on this road continue?

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