News Brief
Photo illustration by Aaron Leaf

Returning Sani Abacha's $321 Million is a Good Start But Where's the Rest?

How much more wealth belonging to African people is hiding in the web of secretive international financial institutions

The secretive mountain nation of Switzerland, long known as a receptacle for Nazi gold and other ill-gotten loot, has agreed to return $321 million dollars from accounts related to former Nigerian military leader Sani Abacha.


The money was confiscated by a Swiss court in late 2014 in a procedure by Geneva's public prosecutor against Sani Abacha's son, Abba Abacha. The Swiss government states: "In accordance with policy on repayment of national assets taken illegally, Switzerland has agreed with Nigeria and the World Bank to return nearly US$321 for the benefit of the Nigerian people."

According to Agence France Press, Military ruler Abacha, in power from 1993 until his death in 1998, is suspected to have embezzled $2.2 billion from Nigeria's central bank in what the United States has called "brazen acts of kleptocracy".

So where's the rest of it? Not just from Abacha or other corrupt African leaders but also the foreigners, the tax cheats and other neo-imperialists who extract wealth from the continent and its people without offering anything in return. The people who've systematically underdeveloped and destroyed, looted and defiled the continent for centuries.

According to the UN Economic Commission on Africa, "over the last 50 years, Africa is estimated to have lost in excess of $1 trillion in illicit financial flows." This number, about $50 billion a year, is roughly equivalent to all of the official development assistance to the continent during the same timeframe. And it's actually a conservative estimate seeing as it doesn't take into account more secretive flows of money out of Africa like the "proceeds of bribery and trafficking of drugs, people and firearms."

What could 1 trillion dollars of stolen money do for people? It represents half a century of crumbling or non-existent infrastructure—roads, hospitals, schools, sewer and lights—that people have been doing their best to work around. Think of what the famous can-do spirit of ordinary Lagosians could have accomplished with 50 years of running water, trains and electricity.

With the recent trend of big financial leaks like with the Panama Papers and the more recent Paradise Papers the general public is getting a better idea of how the world's elite stash their money, both "legitimate" and "illegitimate." To most of us it feels like we're just scratching the surface but here's hoping it's a sign of things to come.

To the looters out there, we see you.

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

The 7 Best Nigerian Songs of the Month (July)

Featuring Olamide, Lady Donli, Omah Lay, Adekunle Gold, Falz and more.