IMF chief says it can help Nigeria recover stolen funds
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said Tuesday that her organization wants to collaborate with Nigeria in plugging leaking of funds through corruption and to trace looted money.
Lagarde, on a visit to the African economic giant, said Nigeria has enough of a financial war-chest to overcome the current economic challenge without resorting to the IMF for financial support.
She said at a press conference that during her meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, she told him that the IMF would be willing to assist the Nigerian government in plugging revenue leakages, tracing stolen funds and restructuring its tax system.
The economy of Nigeria, a major oil producer, has been hit hard by dropping oil prices on the international market. Lagarde said she looks forward to discussing how the country could face the challenges associated with global economic downturn, within the remaining days she would be in the country.
She said she and Buhari also discussed his anti-corruption crusade as well as his commitment to transparency and accountability.
For his part, Buhari, who was elected last year, said his government is committed to enforcing regulations to stop fraud and adopting practices to generate more revenue to mitigate the effect of dwindling oil prices, according to presidential spokesman Femi Adesina.
Adesina said the presidency has “told all heads of ministries, departments and agencies of government that, on our watch, they will fully account for all funds that get into their coffers.”
Adesina, quoting Buhari, said the government will welcome the IMF’s support.
Buhari has said that when he assumed office last May, he inherited empty treasury: a situation he blamed on the blind theft of the country’s resources by officials of the past administration.