Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to recovering billions of dollars of stolen state funds embezzled and siphoned out of the country by former officials, says presidential spokesman Garba Shehu.
He says officials from the United States and other European countries have pledged support in Buhari’s bid to recover and repatriate funds stolen from the West African country.
“Our President Muhammadu Buhari has been informed that there are billions of U.S. dollars of Nigeria money that have been siphoned and taken abroad. Money that is recoverable given some processes and our president has said that he is ready to undertake those processes and see where that would lead the country considering the parlous state of the economy…the money in U.S. dollars will do miracles for Nigeria,” said Garba.
Buhari made the pledge to recoup the stolen funds at a recent meeting with governors. The meeting was aimed at coming up with solutions to address economic challenges the states face. The governors said some states are unable to pay salaries.
Supporters of Buhari say the previous administration depleted the country’s foreign reserves, which they said will undermine the government’s efforts to keep promises the new leader made to Nigerians ahead of the election.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo estimates Nigeria’s debts stood at about $60 billion at the time of the handover.
But former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disagreed, saying the debt is much lower. She contends that most of the debt was incurred by states, not the previous government.
“I think the question to be put to [her] is how much did they inherit, how come they left barely half of what they found and other than that what is there?" said Garba.
He says Buhari will keep his promise to Nigerians despite the prevailing economic challenges.
“He will try and do 100 percent effort even if that doesn’t yield 100 percent results,” said Garba. “Now the thing is Nigerians are also very reasonable people. We will run a government that is open and transparent. They would be shown all of the numbers and they would see that the effort is being made. And I am sure that where we come short, in terms of meeting on our promise the good people of Nigeria would show that understanding.”
Garba also said Buhari will meet frequently with reporters at the presidential villa in a bid to keep Nigerians informed about his administration’s efforts to improve their living conditions.