On Tuesday, 19th of January, 2016, several agreements were signed in Abu Dhabi to promote bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The 6 agreements signed were to protect several interests in trade, finance and legal affairs but the most spectacular of all is the agreement that assures Nigerians that their stolen wealth has a 100% chance of returning right back to their coffers.
It is an open secret that the only reason why the number of dollar billionaires known in Africa is low is because very many politicians and government officials are carefully exporting them out and saving them in foreign banks. Countries like the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the UAE and a host of others are popularly called ‘tax havens’; perfect spots to successfully save embezzled money with absolutely nothing to worry about. In this case, some anonymous high profile thieves in Nigeria have made the UAE their “safe haven” for stolen funds but Buhari just gave them cause to worry.
Present for the occasion were President Muhammadu Buhari, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates and the Finance Ministers of the two countries – Mrs Kemi Adeosun and Obaid Attayar – both of whom signed the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement.
Reports also say that Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, Nigerian Minister of Trade and Investment signed the agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection with the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs. This development will cement and broaden investments and other relations between both nations.
Vanguard Report contains an official statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, and it says,
“The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates, Sultan Bin Saeed Albadi, signed the Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters, which includes the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth,”
President Buhari is indeed not relenting on the plans to retrieve the nation’s stolen funds, billions of dollars that were stolen and stashed in foreign banks. First he declared all of his assets and made them public to Nigerians; that singular act was a good sign and a hint that he won’t spare anyone who steals or has stolen from the country.
In recent times some landmark achievements have be trailed in that regard- probing of past officials, single treasury account, communicating with the Swiss banks to relinquish late Abacha’s loots, and now, in mutual agreement with the UAE to return the countries stolen funds in their country. It’s indeed great when leaders match up their words with corresponding actions.
President Buhari might not be getting some things right in his administration, which is normal with human beings but the idea of accountability and transparency in money matters he apparently holds dear, more so when the results will mostly benefit the Nigerian people’s welfare. The president on this remarkable occasion reminded the people of his campaign promises to root out corruption and as we can see, someone is being true to his word.