COVID 19: Continue payment of returned $322.5million Abacha Loot to poor Nigerians —- ANEEJ, MANTRA Partners urge FG
*Want International Creditors to renegotiate the Nigeria’s external debt.
BENIN CITY, NIGERIA. March 29, 2020…. In the face of the global Corona Virus Pandemic, and the nationwide partial lockdown, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) has called on the Federal Government to put measures in places to ensure that the poorest of the poor Nigerians who are in the Social Protection Register continue to receive the returned $322.5million Abacha loot uninterrupted just as he called on the federal government to urgently allocate more resources to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and disaster management.
The Executive Director of ANEEJ, Rev David Ugolor while commending the federal and state Governments for measures taken so far to contain the spread of the virus across the country said Government must ensure that alternative measures are put in place to ensure that those in more dire need of support, the poorest of poor Nigerians receiving N5,000 continue to receive the returned Abacha loot under the Cash Transfer Progamme of the Social Investment Programme to avoid national disaster.
“The last time N5,000 was paid to beneficiaries was in December 2019 and with the outbreak of corona virus as well as various measures being put in place to contain the coronavirus pandemic, we are not seeing the efforts of governments for the most vulnerable Nigerians. The stay at home order of various tiers of government is good to stop the spread of the virus, but what about the very poor Nigerians? We are concerned about their plight at a time like this. How will they have access to basic needs of food, health care, even basic access to sanitation which are fundamental to tackling the threat of corona pandemic?” Ugolor wondered.
The ANEEJ Chief Executive Officer called on Nigeria’s international creditors to renegotiate the nation’s debt serving to ensure steady flow of resources to poor Nigerians put at over 100million people, particularly in the face of falling oil prices which Nigeria has been depending on.
“These are really challenging times for our dear nation and we expect the federal government as well as the various state governments to urgently work out new ways of reaching out to beneficiaries of the returned loot. This is not time to stall payments but even time to up the take for the beneficiaries,” adds Mallam Ibrahim Zikirullahi of CHRICED, Kano
“We want to appeal to governments that as they order lock downs across Nigeria, what should be upper most in the minds of development actors is millions of the poor Nigerians across the country, even in hard to reach places. How will they cope or manage the situation? Disruption in any form of the distribution of Cash to the poor will spell catastrophe if urgent steps are not taken to ensure continuity of the distribution of cash to poor Nigerians” says Mr. Abiodun Oyeleye, Executive Director of NISD and South West Coordinator of the MANTRA project.
Engr. Raph Ndigwe, Executive Director of CIRRDOG Enugu said this is the time for the Federal Government to resort to technology and other traditional approaches in reqaching out to beneficiaries of Cash Transfer.
Lending his voice to the need to resort to use of modern technology for Cash transfers during the period of social distancing, Secretary General of the Bayelsa Non Governmental Forum (BANGOF), Mr Keme Opia said the need was imperative to ensure that cash distribution does not in any way lead to spread of the deadly virus. “It is possible to make cash transfer this period and the ongoing distribution of Abacha loot shouldn’t be truncated, but rather, new ways and technology should be resorted in the shorted possible time,” Mr Keme Opia emphasized.
“Since the outbreak of Corona Virus was reported in Bauchi, with Governor Bala Muhammed and some others testing positive to the deadly corona virus there has been palpable fear amongst our people, particularly among the poor on how they will cope and survive,” wonders Hajia Maryam Garba, Executive Director, FAHIMTA Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAMWODYDI) and North East Coordinator of MANTRA. She urged the Federal Government to put adequate measures in place to ensure that beneficiaries of Abacha loot continue to receive the cash transfer from Abacha loot.
ANEEJ helmsman and Head of the MANTRA team, Rev David Ugolor said every effort would be made by Civil Society Organisations under the Nigerian Network on Stolen Asset to ensure that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, DFID, the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) , National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) and the World Bank are reached to ensure that that the distribution of returned $322.5million Abacha loot continues unhindered.
“We would also work to ensure the return of more resources to Nigeria this time to fight poverty and the Corona Virus pandemic,” Rev Ugolor assured.
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