Over 220 billion pounds stolen from Nigeria in 47 years
By Aisha Abass
No less than 220billion pounds may have been stolen from Nigeria since the mid-1970s, experts at a summit on illicit financial flow, oil and gas and impact on climate change have said. Irohinoodua attended the event.
The stolen funds are responsible for Nigeria’s stunted growth and the lingering cultural, economic and social misery associated with the country, participants said. The amount is said to be more than the entire European States can give in aid even if they collectively pledge half of their GDPs to aid Africa over the next 50 years.
The observations were made in the communiqué issued at the One-Day Workshop on Illicit Financial Flow, Gas Flaring and COP 26 organised by Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA) Resource Centre, Re-Common and Cornerhouse in collaboration with the Fossil Fuel Non Proliferation Treaty Initiative and supported by MacArthur Foundation held in Lagos at the Raddision Blue.
Participants express deep worry that Nigeria currently loses between $15 billion and $18 billion annually to illicit financial flows. This amount is bigger than what the country needs to overcome the challenge posed by climate change.
“Corruption is endemic in most of African countries. For instance, Nigeria alone has lost up to £220 billion stolen from the people in the past 47 years through sleaze. This amount is enough to transform Nigeria into a world class country.”
The event was organized ahead of the Conference of Parties, COP16 currently on-going in Scotland. The event has President Mohammadu Buhari in attendance.
The participants said oil and gas economy in Nigeria is associated with illicit financial flow running into millions of dollars every year.
They argued that most unfortunately, the developed countries are further crippling the African continent, by enabling IFF from Africa evident in many research and findings including the UNCTAD 2020 report, from 2000 to 2015 which indicated that the total illicit capital flight from Africa amounted to $836 billion , while 3.7 percent of the continent’s GDP is lost to IFF representing some $88.6 billion.
“Funding issues around Climate Change is critical to the survival of many African countries. At present, Africa is continuously dependent on foreign aid recognizing the fact that if properly harvested, the continent will be able to address its climate change need with little or no foreign aid” the participants said.
While recognising the commendable efforts of the anti-corruption institutions in Nigeria, participants decry the incredible cases of corruption in Nigeria associated with the OPL 245 scam which is in the range of $20b and the P&ID amounting to some $9.6billion.”
The communiqué noted that Africa including Nigeria needs to renew efforts to halt Illicit Financial Flow in the oil and gas sector perpetrated by local and international actors. “That Climate Change remains a phenomenon challenge. Africa, including Nigeria should rise up to the perilous challenge and such efforts need to include all stakeholders including but not limited to the civil society, democratic institutions and indigenous communities” the participants stated.
The communiqué urged the Nigerian Government to employ modern technology in the detection of the quantity and quality of oil and gas exported from the country which should lead to freezing and demobilisation of assets such as shares and real property apart from the repatriation of all stolen funds which should be incorporated into projects that impact on the essential needs of Nigerians.
“Retrieving illicit funds requires the employment of legal and diplomatic mechanisms within the framework of best global practices. This means that Africa including Nigeria should work towards stopping corruption at home to prevent illicit financial flow from the continent” the conference noted.
Some of the participants included the Country Director, Nigeria, MacArthur Foundation, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development Services), University of Lagos, Prof Patrick Bond, Department of Sociology, University of Johannesburg, Nick Hildyard, Co-Founder, CornerHouse, UK and Antonio Tricarico, Director, Re:Common; Dr Gbenga Oduntan, Lecturer, University of Kent, UK, Seble Samuel, Campaign Lead for Global Cities, Fossil-Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative; Dr Folayinka Dania, Lagos State Chief Resilience Officer, Dr Orji Ogbonnaya, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative, (NEITI) among many others.