The House of Representatives on its resumption for plenary Tuesday, started the process of a bill which seeks to use the $322 million Abacha loot to fund the Ajaokuta Steel company and Railway Line.
This is barely six days after the House passed a resolution urging President Muhammadu Buhari to halt ongoing plans to distribute the $322 million to 302,000 poor households in 19 states without database.
The bill for an “Act to allocate the returned looted Nigerian government fund of $322 million from Switzerland for funding of Ajaokuta Steel Company and Railway line(s) projects in Nigeria and for other related matters,” was promoted by Ossai Nicholas Ossai, PDP, Delta, and five other lawmakers.
They include Mohammed Umar Bago, Rita Orji, Darlington Nwokocha, Alagbaso Jerry and Nwabuwa Henry Ndochukwu.
Clause 1 of the bill seeks to establish a fund to be known as ‘Swiss Fund, while Clause 2 (i, ii & iii) provides that “the Fund shall be all the returned looted Nigerian government money of $322.5 million from Switzerland; it shall be allocated for the funding of Ajaokuta Steel company; shall also be allocated for the funding of Lagos-Port Harcourt-Enugu-Ajaokuta railway lines projects.”
The explanatory memorandum of the bill further stipulates that the “bill seeks to ensure that returned looted Nigerian government funds are used for major infrastructural projects that will enhance economic growth and development of Nigeria.”
There had been public outcry over the plans by Federal Government to embark on sharing of the $322 million to a cross section of Nigerians described as ‘poor’ without any substantive evidence of their status and that such disbursement may create pipelines for corrupt practices.
Recall that some professional bodies in the housing sector and civil society organisations had called on Buhari’s administration to halt the plans to share the $322 million to the poor but rather roll out modalities to channel the fund into more productive sector with potentialities of adding value to the nation’s economy.
Recall too that the House had during last Wednesday’s plenary, passed a resolution to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate repatriated Abacha loot from 1998 till date, and mandated that the Ad-hoc Committee report back within six weeks for further legislative action.