By Kunle Akinsola
As a proof of its anti-graft war, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) says stolen fund totaling N1 trillion has been recovered.
Its Chairman, Prof. Itse Sagay, said on the figure is exclusive of the cash and property stashed abroad and already recovered.
“About N5 trillion government funds in the hands of big time delinquent borrowers would be recovered,” he told State House correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday.
According to him, the recovered funds are being ploughed back into the national budget to fund the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs).
“I think the money so far recovered is roughly almost about N1 trillion. You (can) see that in 2017, N500 billion was spent on this Social Investment Programme and in 2018 the same amount (was budgeted) for the programme.
“So, it must be roughly about N1 trillion although we also have monies that were recovered from abroad and being ploughed back into the same system,” Sagay, a senior advocate of Nigeria, said.
On fuel subsidy, he said his committee had stopped the N400 billion yearly loss to what he called the fake fuel subsidy.
He stressed:”In the area of recoveries, I don’t need to tell anybody, it is unprecedented in the annals of this country that we could be recovering so much assets illegally acquired mainly by public servants but not only by public servants.
“And the more remarkable aspect of it is that this recovered loot is being ploughed into the national budget every year. It is ploughed back into the national budget and used for the Social Investment Programme (SIP).
“So, when you hear about feeding of over 12 million school children as at when I checked last having nutritious meal every day, you hear of poor families being supported to survive and stand on their feet or over 500,000 young people who are being trained in all sorts of skills and paid N30,000 a month by the government and the interest free loans given to small scale businesses all over the country.
“It’s all part of this money, not a kobo of it is left, everything is ploughed back and I think the country should know that, it’s very unprecedented, this never happened before in the history of this country, everything is ploughed back.
“Then, we have succeeded in improving the quality of prosecution by giving the anti-corruption agencies a lot of capacity building, train them in the manner cases should be prosecuted and how charges should be drawn. Judges up to the Supreme Court have also benefitted from this programme.”
Sagay also noted: “In the area of corruption, you will be surprised if you think back that nobody talks about fuel subsidy corruption anymore. Previously we were losing almost N400 billion every year on fake fuel subsidy payments but now, it is zero.
“So, generally, the tone of the country has improved. The country has gained tremendously, corruption has gone down. There is still corruption but it has gone down and anybody who indulges, particularly an officer of a state who engages in it, knows the risk he is taking.
“We have the TSA, we have the bank verification number, all those things have made an incredible change in our level of anti-corruption.
“Now you cannot hide money in the banks anymore and agencies cannot hide money in various banks accounts which they spend without the knowledge of the government. Everything is in one place, everything is transparent, thanks to this government.”
On debts, he said the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCOM) was determined to recover the estimated N5 trillion debts.
“AMCOM itself has taken up the challenge, they have assessed the amount of debt being owed some as a result of corruption, others as a result of purely business failures and they are very determined now to recover these debts.
“I am aware there is a lot of vigour in an attempt to recover the debts right now.
“We don’t have any direct role in this area although whatever they do will benefit the country because it is about N5 trillion involved, so they are vigorously fighting it under the new management and committee that was set up and I think they will recover a lot if not all.”
On corruption fighting back, he said that the 8th National Assembly spearheaded the “gang up” against anti-graft war in the country.
“The issue of corruption fighting back, that is to be expected but I am happy to say that the capacity of corruption to fight back has been reduced with the expiration of the life of 8th Assembly.
“Because that is where the main opposition to this government was constituted, main opposition to the fight against corruption, that was the centre and at that time, it did not depend on which party they belonged to, they all ganged up together against the anti-corruption fight and did everything they could to frustrate the government and ourselves in the this fight.
Sagay, commending the current lawmakers, said: “Luckily, the 9th Assembly is a totally different Assembly.
“It is an assembly that is determined to work hand in hand with the government and therefore with us in achieving the highest level of no corruption in the society.”