By Soni Daniel
President Muhammadu Buhari believes Nigeria does not need foreign aid if the world powers can help her plug all the loopholes that had been used by government officials to steal her assets.
A Presidency official on Buhari’s four-day visit to the United States (US), which ended on Wednesday, quoted the President, yesterday, as telling US officials that Nigeria has the resources to stand on her feet, and that the world powers should help her.
In the meantime, Nigeria is to draw down investments and cash worth $13.6 billion following negotiations and understanding reached by Buhari with the American government during the visit, Sunday Vanguard learnt, yesterday.
The President met with US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, among many other top functionaries, during the visit.
“Buhari did not go to the US with a begging bowl. We don’t need foreign aid, he told everyone, so long as the world powers can help us plug all the loopholes that had been used to steal our assets,” Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Publicity, disclosed to Sunday Vanguard.
Whereas the President said, during the visit, that about $150 billion is stolen annually from Nigeria and many other African countries, the Presidency official said, ”Americans hold the view that between $10 billion and $20 billion dollars is lost annually through the crude oil sector alone.”
He quoted his boss as saying: ”There is no organisation or government (across the world) that can give us (Nigeria) $5 billion. If we plug our loopholes and recover stolen money stashed abroad, Nigeria will do well by herself.”
A breakdown of the $13.6 billion earmarked for Nigeria, courtesy of the Buhari US visit, shows that $5 billion is coming for investments in the power sector, another $5 billion is to fund investments in the agricultural sector, $1.5 billion is from the Bill Gates Foundation while $2.1 billion is being provided by the World Bank.
Of particular interest is the discovery that the huge sums being brought for investments into the country, according to the Presidency official, attract no counterpart funding.
Similarly, in its efforts to assist Nigeria eradicate polio, the Bill Gates Foundation, which is revving its support with additional $1.2 billion, is extending its areas of coverage to four more states – Kaduna, Sokoto, Borno and Yobe.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President described Buhari’s outing in the U.S as a monumental success.
According to him, no Nigerian leader ever achieved that kind of success in one visit.
Shehu said: ” From our point of view, no past President of this country has ever netted these for Nigeria from a single U.S. trip. Overall, it is a resounding success.
“The clamour for President Buhari was astounding. He was gone after by every member of the United States establishment. He met Secretary of State John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden and the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
“I am not sure there was any past Nigerian President who met as many a number of Secretaries of U.S. Departments as Buhari did and, in all of these meetings, the personal integrity of President Buhari came through.”