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Grant amnesty to looters, use recovered funds to revive economy, Okakpu tells FG

An aviation expert and agro-export enthusiast, Captain John T Okpakpu, has again has canvassed for amnesty to treasury looters by the Federal Government, as means to repatriate looted funds lodged in several banks overseas.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of abx World Nigeria, Captain John Okakpu, said that as Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic takes heavy tolls on the oil price in the world thereby threatening Nigeria’s 2020 economic outlook, the Federal Government should urgently consider this option to recoup funds to shore-up dwindling revenues

Capt. Okakpu made similar calls in year 2016, stressing the need to diversify the nation’s economy and invest in other sectors which provide added larger added value and more disposable revenues to the underemployed and vulnerable like agriculture, technology, etc.

He said that it’s a no-brainer that looters will continue to make it difficult and monumental situation to ask and get those monies back to Nigeria even when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other related agencies have identified where they are.

He said that looking at the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the 2020 budget was designed to be funded, largely, by foreign borrowing especially for the capital projects, such resources (looted funds) are now important and critical to efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in developing the country.

In his words: “Plummeting demand for oil during the coronavirus pandemic has left traders like our dear country scrambling for ships and other alternative facilities – nobody is willing to buy presently!

“The nightmare of the crude oil and the fact that you now need to pay buyers to patronize you, tells us that oil boom is gone. Oil is trading in Canada at negative; that is USD$-0. Where do we run to?

“So, if you consider different reports indicating that billions of dollars in looted funds are warehoused in foreign accounts, then, we need to find means to bring these funds back; keep them in our local banks and give them out as loans to farmers, SMEs/start-ups, manufacturers and others at a single-digit interest loan. This way, our economy will survive.

“In the face of the global slump in the price of crude oil in the international market, many economies are constantly looking for ways to diversify rather than depend on crude oil. For Nigeria, its economy in the past years has rather been one dimension, thus earning the sobriquet mono-economy. While many Nigerians have diversified into real sector, the agro allied sector is however the new cash cow. At least, from every indication we have to go back to the era of agriculture in a large scale to feed and export to earn forex”.

Supporting the need for an agro-based economy, Captain John Okakpu, said the Federal Government, as a matter of urgency should initiate policies that would stimulate the export of agricultural produce.

He said the agro sector has the potential to generate billions of dollar annually if properly harnessed.

The chief campaigner for agro allied services said the promotion of farm produce for export by air could create millions of jobs for youths across the country, adding that the current global realities have made it imperative for government to be more creative in exploring other sources of revenues rather than depending on crude oil.

To this end, he said both the Executive and Legislative arms of government should work harmoniously and urgently on a bill to provide cover for looters to repatriate the stolen funds within one (1) to two (2) years; there should be a clause in such bill proclaiming death penalty on those who refused to comply.

“The Bill will look at how to give life support to this economy using the recovered funds. The goal is not to name and shame rather to provide assurance that within two years, if you comply, no trials will be carried out. At the expiration of that grace, death sentence follows”, he submitted.