Corruption: Will G8 Stop It In Nigeria?
Corruption in Nigeria will form one of the important themes as G-8 leaders meet in the United Kingdom in June, according to diplomatic sources. Africans and their cousins - the African-Americans, have become so dependent on others' support that they hardly rise to challenge their situation. The effect of slavery and colonial rules is yet to be erased amongst Africans despite many of them being well educated. Africans are largely a dysfunctional class of functional illiterates. If not, why do they think that G-8 nations will do what will uplift the continent instead of making it dependent?
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What did Africans miss from the books they memorized and academic degrees they piled up? Going with cap or hat in hand to Western leaders and looking to them to help stop corruption in Africa is a false start and fallacy. Corruption benefits western institutions. They will therefore not cut off such a life line.
When Africa was colonized and there was a requirement that colonies keep a third of national wealth or savings at the exchequer, there was no mention of corruption. The colonies willingly followed - MAI - made as instructed. However, once the colonies achieved independence and got the power to decide how to manage their national wealth, some embarked on corruption in cahoots Western nations who through currency devaluation and offering safe haven to stolen and ill-gotten wealth encouraged the vice.
Since the West will not give up the loot, nations that are affected should take drastic measures to nip the conduct and practice. Has anyone ever heard a Singaporean government official own a house in UK or the West? It is a no-no as Lee Kuan Yew, first PM, decreed against that, given his distaste for the British way of pilfering from unsuspecting nations. Mr. Yew, used the conduct of Nigeria’s first Finance Minister Festus Okotie-Eboh, as an example for his ministers on how not to manage a nation's wealth. As he observed Mr. Okotie-Eboh spend money at a commonwealth event, Mr. Yew called his ministers and said that such conduct would never happen in Singapore under his watch. Today, Singapore is known as a corruption free nation and has risen from Third to First, among former Commonwealth nations.
Mr. Okotie-Ebo, book-keeper turned Finance Minister, stole more of Nigeria’s money than anyone else. He single-handedly took more than 10% of Nigeria’s national budget to his piggy and pretty petty cash operations. In spite of this misdemeanor, he was celebrated. Public corruption in Nigeria has been going on as long as the amalgamation. It is a century affair that the world’s most populous black nation with more PhDs, than any other black nation is unable to curb.
Why is Nigeria, still going around begging the West for a problem that had it a backbone, can be solved easily? Institutions like the World Bank, an establishment that enjoys great respect outside in developing nations than its home base in US, is hardly an arm or aid in fighting corruption. Apart from publishing lists, the World Bank on occasions has been chastised by the US Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, for its role in corruption in developing nations. The World Bank and the UN have never brought legal action or lawsuits on behalf of nations in aid to fight corruption. The UN will raid nations to arrest former heads of state or government officials for crimes against humanity but keep a blind eye on a crime as deadly as stolen monies stashed in foreign institutions. So who is fooled? The World Bank and UN can join the 'Friend-of-the-Court' status to help a nation recover loots taken from their treasury.
Corruption is not fought by mere issuance of initiatives, directives and policies that have no teeth. It is fought by active and aggressive legal battles enabled by effective treaties between countries, and agencies like US FBI. The affected nations must be willing to deploy an array of legal and public relations teams to deliver winning campaigns to rally both the public and organizations on their side.
Nigeria is not ready to fight corruption domestically and internationally. No one holds the gun to the head of a Nigerian government official who siphons money to foreign banks. It is a willing act, therefore, why should anyone in the West bother? If one takes their resources to a neighbor, why blame the neighbor for keeping it and using it for their own good: stolen or otherwise? Money from corruption is not stored in vaults or lock-boxes. The money is invested in these countries to benefit their population.
When Nigeria’s leadership is ready for the fight to end corruption, the people will be the champions and not the government officials. Corruption is nipped by each nation adopting stringent and tight internal measures as opposed to looking to G-8, for hand-us-down solutions.
Nigerians are not ready for heavy lifting but run abroad seeking hand-outs. Count the number of times President Jonathan has been overseas in the last 12 months. It is more than President Obama, leader of the world has been. So what is President Jonathan looking for?
By Ejike Okpa ii
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