Friday, May 24, 2024

Tinubu continued Nigeria’s massive corruption by appointing treasury looter Atiku Bagudu to cabinet: U.S. Govt

Mr Bagudu, unfettered by his ministerial position, continued to leech off government funds.

• April 23, 2024
Anthony Blinken, Atiku Bagudu and Bola Tinubu
Anthony Blinken (Credit: NY1) Atiku Bagudu and Bola Tinubu

The U.S. government is concerned that President Bola Tinubu is continuing the massive corruption trend of his predecessors, given his ministerial appointment of Abubakar Bagudu, a corruption-tainted associate of former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha.

There was no “significant” difference between Mr Tinubu’s nearly one-year performance and that of his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, according to a report that outlined the American government’s assessment and scorecard of Nigeria’s human rights practices.

Despite many reports that Mr Bagudu was complicit in his deceased principal’s looting of hundreds of millions of dollars from the government treasury—the majority of which have been repatriated to Nigeria by several nations, including France, UK, and Switzerland—Mr Tinubu still forwarded Mr Bagudu’s name as a ministerial nominee to the Senate for screening and confirmation.

Mr Tinubu turned a blind eye to Mr Bagudu’s widely reported transgressions, even entrusting him with the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning last August.

No member of the Senate raised objections about the nomination of the former Kebbi governor despite his infamy with Mr Abacha as they unanimously okayed his appointment, to the shock of many Nigerians and allies of the West African nation, including the United States.

“In August, President Tinubu appointed former governor Abubakar Bagudu the Minister of Budget, despite Bagudu’s widely reported history of helping then-President Sani Abacha steal hundreds of millions of dollars from the government in the 1990s,” the U.S. government stated in its 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Nigeria.

Mr Bagudu, unfettered by his ministerial position, continued to leech on government funds, initiating moves to block France from repatriating $150 million loot stolen by the late Abacha unless he got a 20 per cent cut.

Mr Bagudu claimed he had an interest in the stolen funds and would only back down if paid $30 million, a condition Mr Tinubu’s government was compelled to agree to since it was determined to recover the stolen funds.

The move to block the repatriation underscored Mr Bagudu’s brazenness and probable influence on the incumbent president, who still allows him to occupy the ministerial position.

That Mr Bagudu is allowed to function as a key member of Mr Tinubu’s administration despite his documented financial misdeeds has done little to inspire the U.S. confidence that Mr Tinubu will be any different from his predecessors.

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