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May 11, 2016

I woke up this morning very angry, mad and disturbed. It wasn’t because I had a nightmare or there was some sort of disturbance from home but I was reflecting on the unguarded comment from the British Prime Minister – Mr. David Cameron where he referred to Nigeria as a “fantastically corrupt” country. What even made it worse was friends of mine who were justifying the statement after all, we no good na, the man spoke the truth and so on.

Here is my take:

I believe that the long colonial rule that we witnessed has become responsible for our slavery mentality. We generally believe everything white is better than us and because of that we are quick to jump and join the bandwagon of whatever they say, we are!

I once travelled to Seychelles and was made to strip to my birthday suit! What was the problem? A Nigerian woman who travelled 2 days before me had been caught transporting illicit items. Therefore, all Nigerians were now suspects. That made me rule out Seychelles from my destination list, forever!

You see, it is not as if we do not know that some Nigerians and they are really in the minority, are corrupt. The reality is that all over the world, there are more corrupt people than Nigerians. For example, how bigger is corruption than when 2 renowned world leaders – George W. Bush, Jnr. and Tony Blair – doctored a report concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order for them to justify their invasion – is Iraq any better years later? Are these former world leaders being made to pay for the cover-up?

The Nigerians who buy houses in the West, do they ferry the money in Ghana-must-go? Is this money not moved through legitimate International financial houses located in the West? Do the Western Governments not know when these investments are being made? Instead of blocking such transactions, they turn a blind eye and when we ask for repatriation of the stolen money, they start procedural roadblocks and end up asking for the Nigerian government to tell them how they intend to use the money before they will return it. For me, this is a classic case of being fantastically corrupt and David Cameron of all people knows this very well.

There are Americans going on rampage with automatic rifles killing innocent school children, nobody has labelled all Americans as heartless; there are British terrorists who go on and fight in Syria and behead innocent people, nobody has called all Britons as Jihadists; even Jesus Christ had 12 disciples out of whom one turned out to betray him. Nobody to this date has labelled all Disciples of Christ as Betrayers. So what gives David Cameron the right to label all Nigerians? All I am saying is enough of the stereotype!

Only this week, there were 96 graduating Doctor of Pharmacy candidates in Howard University, 43 of them were Nigerians and of the 27 awards given, 16 went to Nigerians! These are the good news the world refuses to acknowledge! There is a certain Nigerian girl who got admitted into all Ivy League Schools in the USA! Prof. Wole Soyinka is an astute Nigerian – is he fantastically corrupt? Are the countless Nigerian doctors, surgeons, consultants, barristers and solicitors, chartered accountants and business advisors, engineers, IT specialists, investment bankers, lecturers and professors, etc. living and working in the United Kingdom and making Great Britain truly great fantastically corrupt? It is very easy to label a Nigerian success story as British but when they fail, we remember they are Nigerian-born and some Nigerians will be applauding – shame on you.

I can go on and on with examples but I believe you get my point now. The West is not better than Nigeria or Africa in general – they are just fantastically better at rigging, looting, and all the devices in between. They have perfected the art of evading the authorities. A former Speaker of the US House of Representatives is facing jail time for fantastically breaking the US Patriots’ Act. What I think is missing in Nigeria and most parts of Africa is enforcement of existing laws and the bias that exists in them. Not that it is perfect in the West but I think that is one place we have a lot of work to do.

Bringing it back home, President Buhari, I believe you have to put your money where your mouth is i.e. start by cleaning your ruling party of those who are fantastically corrupt. That will send a strong message to everyone concerned that you truly mean business. As long as you continue to fantastically shield those politicians, whatever you do will not have the full moral grounds to win the support of majority and it will remain a taint in your legacy. At 73, you really should not be afraid to fantastically do what is right in the eyes of God and man. While you are at it, please note that although you have stated that you will prefer action to mere apology, the fact that 12 months down the line, even Great Britain has not repatriated a penny from the stolen money back to Nigeria is an indication that the West has fantastically perfected the art of cooperating with and shielding the fantastically corrupt people they are referring to. I am #NotFantasticallyCorrupt thank you!

From → Politics

  1. JUSTICE D-I permalink

    Good write up DG. I particularly love the last paragraph and until we start seeing such mentioned actions a lot of us will still say our government along with the western world remain ‘fantastically corrupt’.

  2. Great Dissection of the Issue. May your patriotic pen never run dry. Good to expose the dark sides of Westerners who assist to institutionalize Global #fantasticcorruption but another worrying issue still remains what transpires on ground in Nigeria. The Worrying fact is that even your Kinsman, with a Christian band on his hand that highlights his alliance to a known and revered faith based assembly, will ask you for a bribe to do a job he is paid for and if you don’t budge he, often time, will find a way to ensure your find it difficult to receive your legitimate funds for a service rendered. . My take is that while the westerners have perfected the art of assisting our corrupt brothers invest in their region for their personal and national gain, most Nigerians are still imbecile like grand masters, so corrupt and greedy, they work to destroy businesses within their country and up the ante a notch higher when they see any foreign investor who ask them a simple question from a mile away. . . . Brother our local and international business men know that for Nigeria, it is time #wechangeordie.

  3. Andrew permalink

    Had it been David Cameron said Nigeria is a fantastic country, free of corruption, filled with decent and honest people, we would not have suffered slave mentality as a result of colonia rule abi? We Nigerians like good names and praises but most of our behavious fall far short too merit such praises. Nigeria in all honesty, is shamelessly a corrupt country, Cameron is right!.

    • Ibim permalink

      It’s ok that as a Nigerian you agree that you are “Fantastically Corrupt”..Personalize it all you want. But don’t make it a general nomenclature for all Nigerians please! This has nothing to do with Nigerians liking good names. Even the Uk guardian called the so-called David Cameron an “epic hypocrite” who is the PM to a country that is an enabler for the so-called corruption he’s blabbing about. He should first fix his house before he even phantoms the idea of helping fix ours! So if you are fantastically corrupt Nigerian, I throway cap for you!

  4. Kayode permalink

    Please lets be clear on what Cameron was saying.
    In context of their discussion, they were referring to Nigerian leaders…. and not all Nigerians as you put it.
    While I agree with you on the West being the hub of corruption, I think we should stop blaming the West for our woes and focus on solving our problems. The Japanese President could as well call our country a wonderfully corrupt country…. they would be right. We have always given ALL nations justification to say so. Would we then say the Japanese are responsible for our woes again?

  5. choko permalink

    Good write DG, as always. It is a food for thought to all Nigerians that visit your blog. Less than 1% of “maybe” corrupt persons does not give anyone the right to call a whole Nation corrupt.
    Let’s settle down and ask ourselves, what’s the way forward for this our great country? Forget these colonial deceits that know what’s best but yet deceive our leaders and buy time for themselves with all these summits and all-what-not. We all know what the gains have been for them from this our stolen monies.

  6. Jay permalink

    As our beloved President Buhari rightly pointed out corruption is a “hydra-headed monster” which threatens the security of countries and “does not differentiate between developed and developing countries”.

    No country scores a clean 100 on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index. The UK merely ranks 10th in the 2015 index, scoring 81/100, five points ahead of our other beloved country the U.S.A who come in ranking 16th.

    And so I have pondered, why would David Cameron (DC here) even privately think, never mind publicly make the pronouncement that Nigeria specifically is fantastically corrupt?

    Surely he is very aware of highly publicized UK corruption issues such as parliamentary expenses scandals, BAE systems Al Yamamah bribery scandal, cash for influence scandals and the endemic corruption in the banking sector to name a few. More recently even DC’s father has been implicated in tax dodging allegedly having set up offshore accounts (perhaps to avoid having his ‘perhaps’ hard earned cash going toward footing the bill of fraudulent benefit claimants).

    According to TI, Nigeria is ranked 136 (of 167) scoring 26/100. With 30 other represented countries to pair off with Afghanistan including say Venezuela and Guinea- Bissau both tied at 17/100 and Angola 15/100, why pray did our great nation so easily roll off his lips in the same sentence as the phrase ‘fantastically corrupt’.

    Thinking out loud here, just thinking out loud:

    Could it be that perhaps, just perhaps he is very conscious of Nigeria’s enviable abundance of resources? Aside the obvious petroleum and LNG, Nigeria boasts an array of other mineral resources and arable land not to mention extensive human capital.

    Could it be that he is aware that in spite of these vast and impressive resources education, healthcare and general living conditions in Nigeria are staggeringly poor, greatly impeding the potential for the country’s development?

    Perhaps he is aware that for the average young Nigerian, university degrees (where possible) are undertaken as a desperate means of eking out some form of living in future rather than because of any real interest in understanding the subject or innovating.

    Perhaps he is aware that on finally ‘graduating’, the options for those who don’t have connected parents to fix them up through nepotism broadly are (i) living off the mercy of a richer relative (ii) working as a menial help or muse for wealthier Nigerians (iii) checking out for a master’s degree i.e. getting a proper education abroad, UK and US being first choices (iv) using any means possible to get employed locally preferably by a multinational (rather than an indigenous) company. Judging by the various posts here exclusively advertising vacancies with multinational oil companies, I suspect that this blogger agrees with the latter.

    Perhaps DC is aware that even though a prized job with one of these multinationals is cause for grossly exaggerated thanksgiving, the best that the locally employed Nigerian can hope for in terms of remuneration is a mere pittance – in their own country- relative to what their internationally engaged colleagues e.g. those from UK are paid. Perhaps DC sees that despite claims of racism Nigerians who have proven themselves capable in foreign countries have a better chance of being remunerated competitively with Europeans peers than in their own country.

    Perhaps DC wonders why foreign degrees especially those from the UK and US are infinitely worth more than Nigerian degrees to Nigerian employers. Perhaps he is aware that 43 of 96 Howard University Doctor of Pharmacy graduates last week were Nigerian. Perhaps he’s calculated what those 1000s of dollars invested in America’s educational system could have achieved in boosting the quality of Nigeria’s own federal and state universities. Perhaps he ponders Nigeria’s inability to nurture the best of it’s own talent within it’s own shores.

    Perhaps he knows that we trust imported synthetic medicines more than our herbalists who with a little investment and support can provide the same level of medical prowess for which India is now world renown.

    Perhaps DC is aware that while agnostic youth in his own country freely explore, discover, redefine, dominate their world, the average Nigerian mostly gets their sense of self worth from servitude to their ‘mothers and fathers in the Lord’, from using anything left of their physical, mental and financial capabilities to help these impressively astute ‘men of god” (MoG) build their personal empires: in exchange for highly coveted meaningless religious titles or positions near the ‘throne of grace’. Perhaps DC is aware of the irony that ‘unbelieving’ liberal western youth set the cultural and technological trends that Nigeria’s religious youth feverishly lap up and translate into ‘inspired’ church activities.

    Perhaps DC sees the life of luxury that these demi-god MoGs and their families live in the UK safely out of view of their gullibles. Fat bank accounts, prime real estate, access to the best private medical care possible while selling divine intervention and healing paraphernalia to their naïve subjects in Nigeria. Perhaps DC knows that the average church going Nigerian has been brainwashed into believing that it is unspiritual to challenge the MoG. That even when faced with the fact, most Nigerians would find the most tenuous scripture to defend their leaders than admit they are being conned, for fear of being cursed.

    Perhaps DC is impressed that even after Britain gave up it’s colonial hold over Nigeria, Nigerians remain reluctant to give up colonialism. Perhaps he is impressed by how easy it is for anyone with his skin colour with the most basic foreign qualification to be awarded multi million $ contracts in Nigeria whether its for churches who claim commitment to social reforms, public roads or government buildings. While as in colonial times, locals are recruited as the work horses for cheap slave labour.

    Perhaps he is impressed by how keen we are to do away with the finer points of our culture with many parents proudly showing off their kid’s dislike for nutritional national dishes in favour of supposedly posh!!! foreign options like burgers, indomie, pizza! Or showing off their kid’s inability to speak or understand their native language in favour of badly spoken English. Perhaps DC knows that true patriots in the UK who want to push for reform send their kids to government run schools rather than private schools to be able to influence the change from within. Perhaps he knows that this commitment is what continues to make British education globally attractive enough that supposedly patriotic Nigerian prefers for their kids to attend private schools that advertise any tenuous link to supposedly British or American curricula.

    Perhaps DC sees how the mythology of other nations (not just Jewish mythology) is seamlessly woven into the fabric of our daily lives whereas our wealth of mythology is an absolute taboo. Perhaps he understands that our disregard for our heritage is another symptom of our illiteracy that contributes to our inability to appropriately self express.

    Perhaps DC knows that even the most patriotic Nigerian if financially able would not trust theirs or their families lives to government run hospitals but would rather fork out money that could be used to improve local health care in Nigeria for health tourism to UK or other foreign countries. Perhaps he knows that Nigerians spend billions on health tourism the could shore up health care locally. Perhaps he knows that the multi-million-dollar hospital that the former finance minister’s family is building in Gwarimpa Abuja unchallenged by Nigerians (and contracted to some of the most elite firms in UK and internationally) is unlikely to be from funds the good minister inherited from her father and unlikely to be accessible to the average Nigerian.

    Perhaps DC knows that Nigeria’s growing service based industry and informal sector is mostly supported by hardworking Nigerians in diaspora who remit circa $21billion home annually (that is formal remittances only excluding goods and cash taken cross border) to support their desperate families back home. Perhaps DC knows that while the perception is otherwise many of them in the UK take on the most undesirable jobs under the most undesirable conditions with just enough left to sustain a frugal existence in the UK once taxes are deducted and those remittances are made.

    Perhaps DC knows that aside scooping up expanses of real estate in prime areas such as billionaires row in the UK, Nigerians are one of the 5 highest foreign contributors to the British economy spending on average £573 (approx. 250,000 naira) per transaction on luxury goods in his country. Perhaps he is aware that this sum for many Nigerians is the equivalent of a mega lottery win. Perhaps he is aware of what this sums could do if injected into Nigeria’s own local economy to support research and the development of local goods.

    Perhaps DC sees that we confuse consumerism with development. Perhaps he can tell that being avid consumers of current high technology that we cannot produce (iPad, iPhones with Bluetooth, Japanese and Chinese cars that are not designed for Nigerian roads, fuel quality or climate etc.) makes us more laughable than we realise.

    Perhaps DC knows that Nigeria has a huge untapped potential for tourism. Perhaps he sees the pride his own British people take in exploring their countryside and investing in their tourist spots. Perhaps he wonders why holidaying in places like UK, US, Dubai or Seychelles gives Nigerians more bragging rights that trips to Ogudu or Ikogosi.

    Perhaps he knows that even with the rising number of ‘educated’ Nigerians, we still collectively know next to nothing about our fauna or flora and most of our documented information/ conservation effort is based on foreign funded research. Perhaps he knows that we however are proficient at spouting vacuous scriptures outwith their historical context with the occasional injection of the odd Greek word for good measure.

    Ruthless critic of its own public servants is a British past time that DC himself has certainly not been spared. A 10year old would likely be celebrated by the British press and public for soundly telling off the prime minister. Even DCs anti corruption summit was stormed by British demonstrators reminding him of the speck in his own eye in full view of his foreign guests. No doubt the same squad will ensure that he publicly declares how much of Nigeria’s stolen money is returned.

    So I wonder if perhaps DC is just in awe of what his Nigerian counterparts and other Nigerian ‘leaders’ are able to get away with unchallenged. Perhaps he is stunned that the leaders of so called developed countries like his shoulder so much more real responsibility/ accountability to those they serve for a fraction of what Nigerian leaders ‘earn’ in exchange for- well basically giving us the pleasure of leading us and looting our treasury.

    Perhaps DC is confused that Nigerians continue to offer the defence of being a young democracy. True. Perhaps he wonders why countries that gained independence after Nigeria such as Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE (which Nigerians now look up to) have made more significant strides in far less time than far better resourced Nigeria. Perhaps he wonders why Malaysia of a similar independence age is strides ahead of Nigeria. Perhaps he wonders if our pace of development would match or exceed India’s in 13years.

    And so 4 pages later, I conclude my thoughts. Perhaps it would have been more offensive for DC to describe Nigeria simply as corrupt. In my mind, the qualification ‘fantastically’ implies a relativity. Seems to me a comparative term. Perhaps what he means is that all leaders being human push the boundaries of the very laws that they are there to protect, all leaders self serve to a degree hence why corruption (and poverty) is undeniably global. However, in sane/ civilised countries they tend to have at least enough sense of civic responsibility to put more back into the system than they take from it. In form of ensuring basic infrastructure, passable healthcare, education, adequate social service and security for all. Might not be perfect, no utopia on earth after all but they try or have enough regard, respect, fear of the populace, love for their homeland to ‘try to appear to try’.

    Comparatively, the situation in our dear country is mindboggling. Such as perhaps has not been seen since medieval times. The blatant disregard for life, humanity or responsibility is mindboggling. The looters metaphorically stump through the corpses of starved, diseased Nigerian children to get their loot into the economies of those who already have enough. We are not talking about £1000s for duck ponds or whatever ‘ridiculous’ things British MPs fiddle their expenses for. We are talking about billions of dollars of national funds being wholly misappropriated for personal use. Eye watering amounts that most British MPs including DC probably only know as a theoretical concept and possibly cannot actually begin to accurately envision in cash. Conservatively over $400billion since independence.

    These are not whites/foreigners robbing us of our basic human rights, these are fellow Nigerians. Supposedly brothers and sisters of the same race. Yes, westerners are totally complicit. But their responsibility is (as should be of any real leaders) first to their own people, not interfering in the affairs of a sovereign nation. So why blame them for accepting funds willingly imposed on them? Especially if those funds go a long way to help them secure their own economy thereby achieving their responsibility to their own people? Should their consciences be bothered knowing that we are being starved to death while our leaders take away the food we desperately need to share abroad with them and their children. Maybe. But why blame them for cashing in on people whose leaders willingly sell them back to slavery? The look of modern day luxuries might have changed since our forefathers sold off our brethren for what we see as common place mirrors today but the primitive idea is very much the same.

    The ultimate satisfaction of these looters like their counterparts in churches appears to be to have a mass of needy impoverished beggars desperately worshipping them for the drops of water that they occasionally allow their patched throats. This is the aggressively domineering mind set that filters down through most spheres of life in Nigeria. Was it not Wole Soyinka himself that pointed out many years ago that Nigeria is corrupt from top to bottom. He continues his strongly vocal stance on the subject to date.

    A child born in Nigeria post 80s might see advancement in the last 5years. A pre 70s child sees a country that remains a shadow of what it was, occasionally seemingly taking a step forward and two or three back. I recall a time when houses where not designed like prison yards. Before the shiny ‘hip’ Shoprite was Leventis, Kingsway, Bata etc. We enjoyed well maintained public gardens and parks. Citroens and Mercedes were the Prados and Porsches of the time. Yes, we had modern technology- land lines that actually worked. And when it didn’t you could actually report a fault to NITEL and get it fixed within a short call out time. Same with NEPA believe it or not. Government schools, universities and hospitals had a much better reputation than they do today. No it wasn’t utopia either just more national options.

    I hear many Nigerians complain about the unfairness of categorising all Nigerians as corrupt. They talk about prayerfully doing things to make a change. And so I apologise if none of the above applies to you. To quote from the book so ‘loved’ by many- ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people’. Or ‘sin is a disgrace to any people’. If we are so righteous in our eyes, why is this disgrace upon us? It is not for lack of adequate profiling statistics that Nigerians are strip searched at foreign airports. Caucasians profile themselves as more likely to commit crimes of passion, which isn’t as romantic as it sounds. With Nigerians it is fraud, terrorism recently added on.

    And so I fear that I am less concerned about DC’s globally perceived qualification of the scale of corruption in Nigeria. Does it really matter who states the obvious? More concerning is the fact that it is met by some Nigerians with nothing more than non-constructive indignant emotive meltdown. It sadly suggests that some of us might have achieved a passable state of comfort that makes us immune to the harsh reality of daily life for the average Nigerian. It suggests that we have a long way to go.

    Like any battle, winning the battle for Nigeria’s progress must fundamentally start in the mind. Our road to healing can only begin when we first humbly accept what our issues are. Not because it comes from DC or any other ‘insolent’ white person. But because we can think clearly to acknowledge that this destructive cankerworm is so pervasive in our society that even the most ‘patriotic’ citizen is frequently forced to compromise our national interest for the sake of self preservation.

    Our road to sustainable progress can only really begin with a collective deep sense of national pride, a fierce awareness of what is ours. It’s not enough to merely talk the talk. The countries we look up to as developed are those who have perfected the art of incorporating the best of foreign ideas into their own without destroying their own values or identity.

    If David Cameron had not used the term fantastically corrupt, what pray can accurately describe the situation at hand? How is it possible that a people of a country so rich can be so desperately poor? Is it not fantastically unbelievable that a country of almost 200million is held hostage by a minority? We are now numb to the fact that $700million in cash was found in a public servant’s house (whatever can that look like?). What then can shock us out of this state of stupor that we exist in? We are also complicit in our abuse. We have bought into the strategic lie that our survival as humans in this world solely depends on our total dependence on divine powers through servitude to his ‘anointed’.

    Yet there are millions the world over just like us breaking frontiers that we just cannot begin to dream of in the confines of our churches and doing so with not so much as a whisper to the heavens for help. Functioning to fulfil the potential for which they were created.

    Rather than engaging effectively with our world, our politics, seeking to appreciate and understand our environment we hole ourselves up within monuments of deceit, leaving those whose heads are out of the fog to do what they will with our lives and our national treasures. We hand it to them on a platter of gold. No wonder government officials and church leaders get on so well. They work in synergy.

    In spite of our torrent of prayers, offerings and tithes (which have no theological basis), our quality of life and mortality rate is far worse than those in ‘pagan’ worlds. Our practical needs are ultimately met not by angels but by humans like us the world over who engage themselves in practical interaction with our world. Jobs, Zuckerberg, Gates were not inspired at church seminars. Many of the skilled doctors that birth our children or treat our ailments abroad, their hospital directors have no religious leanings or believe differently to us. Our Chinese/Japanese car manufacturers are not inspired by the blessings of MoG.

    To veil their own ultimate aspirations of maintaining or gaining a spot on the Forbes list of millionaire preachers, we are told that we are enjoying the wealth of the world and so measure our worth in our own society by our level of westernisation. Ultimately even with our Bentleys all we are doing is eating scraps off the table of the rich.

    We cannot move forward until we absolutely free our minds by removing this yoke on us. We can do so collectively.

    Given the scale of corruption in Nigeria, it is difficult to see what real change Buhari alone or sparse distributions of people making individual concerted efforts can make. The end of social injustices like apartheid, slavery, segregation, gender discrimination etc. was heralded by the actions of mass bodies of movement, groups of people determined to effect the change that they had first firmly envisioned in their minds. A gale makes more of an impact than a puff of air.

    We can do more to effect change in our country collectively. We can move out of our comfort zone and collectively show more practical interest in governance. It is after all our collective responsibility; leaders are merely representatives.

    Large groups of people collectively committed to transacting without bribe, publicly supporting pressurised members will start a conversation and a new mind set.

    Large groups of informed people collectively familiarising themselves with their local government, participating in local elections to ensure appropriate representation, periodically engaging with local officials to help shape policy making, demanding budget visibility and accountability for the running of public services and infrastructure including local schools and health care services.

    Large groups of people disseminating information about our political structures and governance, ‘evangelising’ civic responsibility to the wider community, market traders etc. A better understanding of their birth right might discourage unwitting young men from volunteering to be thugs for corrupt politicians.

    Specialists volunteering in public schools to inject renewed vigour into classrooms, to support and encourage disenfranchised teachers.

    We can resurrect the spirit of technical, scientific and art societies. We can move them away from being merely talking forums to what they should be; forums for excellence in research and innovation. Throughout Nigeria there are lots of artisans innovating on a budget. These more than those with paper qualifications and fuzzy head knowledge are really the ones who can provide the impetus for our technological development.

    Rather than perpetuating the usual storyline of greed, prostitution and voodoo how about incorporating public awareness information into Nollywood themes to galvanise change. How about filming within our lesser known vast areas of natural beauty. How about encouraging positive aspiration with storylines celebrating local innovation against all odds? Non sycophantic biographies of Nigerians who have broken with convention in business through viable means.

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