22 years after Gen Sani Abacha‘s death, Nigeria is still recovering some of the funds he looted during his regime. Now, that brings us to the question: How much exactly did Abacha steal from Nigeria?
In 2014, the federal government of Nigeria named Abacha among the 100 Nigerians to receive the centenary award.
Premium Times quoted them as saying his administration oversaw an increase in the country’s foreign exchange reserves from $494 million in 1993 to $9.6 billion by the middle of 1997.
Furthermore, they claimed that he reduced the external debt of Nigeria from $36 billion in 1993 to $27 billion by 1997.
All that was only possible because he increased the rate of oil exploration and executed Ogoni activists who questioned him for exploiting the resources in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
One notable execution – as stated in Guy Arnold’s African history book – was when he ordered the hanging of Ogoni activist Ken Saro-Wiwa who opposed to the exploitation of Nigerian resources by the multinational petroleum company, (Royal Dutch Shell).
In other words, he oversaw economic growth and in return stole billions. So did he really deserve to be honoured? We’ll keep that in rhetorics.
How much did Abacha loot from Nigeria?
Abacha looted roughly $11.3 (United States Dollars) from Nigeria, according to a Channels TV estimate. Now, that’s an estimate. It could be even bigger.
It’s like when a man dies without telling his family he had money stored in the bank. You’ll be at the mercy of that bank if you don’t have any documents to prove how much he had with them.
So far, billions of dollars have been returned to Nigeria. However, there’s more to be recovered.
Abacha’s loots cost more than the figures suggest
Even if in the end Nigeria recovers every dollar Abacha stole, the fact remains that it has deprived the nation of so much. The current value of dollars now is by far lower than the value 20 years ago.
According to Inflation Calculator, as of January 2020, what would have cost $20 in 1999 would now cost nearly $31.
Aside from that, if the money was invested into Nigeria’s economy (not looted by another), the economic growth would have been immense.
Basically, Nigeria’s monies were deposited into economies that were by far more buoyant than Nigeria’s.