President Buhari’s Trump card that just might see him win 2019 elections has been unveiled. Last week, it was announced that the $322 million Abacha loot returned to Nigeria by the Swiss government would be transferred to poor families in Nigeria.
Yes that’s seems like a windfall for the poor and vulnerable in the country. States who are going to be involved in the pilot scheme are Niger, Kogi, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Kwara, Cross River, Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Anambra and Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs) in Borno.
How it would work
The funds will be disbursed via Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) which is run by the National Cash Transfer Office (NTCO).
The families to be paid have been registered on The National Social Register (NSR) which is under The Nigeria National Social Safety Net Program (NAASP) is in charge and has been paying the poor a monthly stipend.
How this move would see Buhari win the 2019 elections
It is no secret that elections in Nigeria are expensive. The reason is how politicians engage in buying votes. They go around distributing foodstuffs just before elections to the vulnerable and on election day, they pay each voter to cast his/her votes for them.
Over the years, this aberration turned into a norm and now, you cannot win an election without engaging in this act. Of course, there are other people to “settle”, however the poor are not left out of the largess from each candidate vying for office.
Thus, with $322 million to share, which amounts to roughly 115 billion naira, Mr President will have a seemingly endless stream of money to share to the poor who not knowing better will remain grateful to Mr President and will want the largess sharing to continue.
Meaning any poor person who refuses to vote can be removed from this scheme. A subtle stranglehold on the majority of voters if you ask me.
Various reactions have trailed this announcement. We will examine a few.
Serap (Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project) have released a statement stating that “The authorities have a legal obligation under the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party to make sure that the returned Abacha loot is properly and efficiently used, both from the viewpoint of using asset recovery as a tool of ensuring justice to victims of corruption and breaking the cycle of grand corruption. But the plan to share the loot among households is mere tokenism and would neither have significant impact on poverty alleviation nor satisfy the twin objectives of justice and development,”.
The organization is of the opinion that investing the funds in essential public services which will be properly monitored would have been better.
Here is Dr Joe Abah’s brilliant reaction to this news as well.
There’s a separate price list for political predictions. You will need $322 million Abacha loot for that one. https://t.co/NHLl9hL1A1
— Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) July 1, 2018
Here is Oluseun Onigbinde’s reaction as well.
See how we were railroaded to use Abacha loot as "stomach infrastructure". After $322.5m spent, would we rightly say, we have reduced poverty by just 10%?
We are becoming a country of stomach infrastructure, of interventions, without fixing the roots.
— Oluseun Onigbinde (@seunonigbinde) June 29, 2018
This particular project is laudable but only in the right conditions. There are risks of it being railroaded. As is common, we have seen politicians and top government officials put the names of their own people in such lists.
We also are borrowing just to supplement our budget, making it seem like the government is inept, or maybe it is.
The dangers of having a majority of voters being paid wil skewer their judgement and is really going to have a main say in the forthcoming elections. The poor know no better and will even kill just to get paid 5000 naira. A sum which is barely enough to feed a family for a week. Stomach infrastructure at its finest right there.
The odds are now stacked against President Buhari’s contenders who have no access to such funds and who are better suited to be president. Like is said, las las na who fit drop for the tummy go win.
Sad but true, maybe we should start saying congratulations to Baba ahead of a predetermined election.