Friday, July 19, 2024

Minister Alleges Buhari Misappropriated $100m World Bank Loan, Diverting Funds from Women’s Empowerment

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Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, has made startling allegations against the previous administration led by former President Muhammadu Buhari, accusing them of gross mismanagement of a $500 million World Bank loan earmarked for empowering women in Nigeria. In a candid interview with Arise News, Ohanenye expressed profound dismay over the purported squandering of the initial $100 million of the loan on what she described as non-essential activities.

“It is regrettable that the $100 million allocated for the Nigeria for Women Project was expended on meetings, advocacy, and consultancy,” remarked Ohanenye, highlighting what she perceives as a flagrant misuse of public funds. Her revelations come at a time of heightened scrutiny and public outcry over financial mismanagement within previous governmental initiatives.

The World Bank, recognizing the urgent need to uplift the livelihoods of Nigerian women, approved the substantial loan on June 27, 2023. This financial support was intended to bolster initiatives aimed at addressing the significant socio-economic challenges faced by women in Nigeria.

Acknowledging the complexities inherent in managing such a sizable loan, Minister Ohanenye commended President Bola Tinubu for his proactive oversight of the project, particularly his scrutiny of the initial $100 million expenditure. “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu deserves recognition for his diligence in addressing the mismanagement of the initial funds,” she emphasized, underscoring the critical importance of responsible financial governance.

Contrary to misconceptions, Ohanenye clarified that the funds were not a grant but a loan, emphasizing the need for prudent financial management to ensure successful repayment. “When funds are provided as loans, it is imperative to manage them judiciously to generate returns that facilitate repayment,” she elucidated, emphasizing the fiduciary responsibilities associated with borrowed funds.

“In essence, the proper utilization of loaned funds is crucial to prevent exacerbating Nigeria’s debt burden,” Ohanenye stressed. She lamented that upon assuming her role, she discovered that the initial $100 million allocation had predominantly been used for activities such as advocacy and consultancies, which she deemed incongruent with the administration’s developmental goals.

“The expenditure did not align with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda,” the minister lamented, suggesting a disconnect between financial allocation and strategic national priorities. Furthermore, she criticized the uneven distribution of funds among states, potentially widening disparities in women’s empowerment efforts nationwide.

Looking ahead, Ohanenye affirmed her commitment to rectifying past fiscal missteps and optimizing the remaining loaned funds to achieve sustainable outcomes. She stressed the pivotal roles of transparency and accountability in financial administration, pledging stringent oversight measures to prevent future financial mismanagement.

Amid escalating debates over the World Bank loan’s utilization, Minister Ohanenye remains steadfast in her advocacy for women’s empowerment. She pledged to leverage the remaining funds effectively to catalyze positive socio-economic changes for Nigerian women. “We owe it to future generations of Nigerian women to ensure these funds are used wisely and effectively,” she concluded, reaffirming her dedication to advancing gender equality and economic empowerment through prudent governance and strategic investments.

In conclusion, Minister Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye’s allegations underscore significant challenges in the management of international loans earmarked for development purposes. Her call for accountability and strategic allocation of resources reflects broader concerns over financial stewardship and national development priorities. As Nigeria navigates these complexities, the effective utilization of borrowed funds will be crucial in shaping the country’s socio-economic landscape, particularly in empowering marginalized groups like women.

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