Read, Peruse, Digest - not necessarily in that order - With Diligence and Equanimity

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    2017-01-01 14:27:41         by   Tade Oyebode

IS Nigeria a fantastically corrupt country? The answer has to be an unequivocal yes, however you look at it. This is why I am so happy that President Buhari did not ask Cameron for apology. Instead he asked Mr Cameron to cooperate so that Nigerian assets stashed away in the UK by corrupt Nigerians can be repatriated to Nigeria.
As I wrapped up this comment, I saw the Sky Broadcast of Buhari?s response. The response was so appropriate: yes our nation is corrupt, we know that, what about returning the assets stashed away here? We read these assets could be as much as 150 billion dollars ( this claim was not made by Nigeria, instead it was made by an expert on these matters interviewed by Sky news).

Is the UK corrupt? Of course it is: corruption is human. Many will argue it is not as corrupt as Nigeria (at least when it faces its own residents) and I will be one of those. Simply because you can navigate many aspects of life here without pressure from the system to extort money from you or needing to use influence. This is my experience. I have spent roughly half of my life in each of these two countries and I can tell the difference.

Having listened to this report in various media, my conclusion is to agree with a commentator on Sky News. This was a deliberate comment by Cameron, it is not a gaffe. It took a while to put my finger on my discomfort with Cameron?s comments.

So are Nigerians right to be angry about Cameron?s comments? Without any doubt, they do. Cameron is having a laugh at the expense of the Nigerian people, who are the true victim of the corrupt system. This is really annoying. Corruption is not a laughing matter, an after dinner crummy and cheesy exchange between a few chummies. It throws into doubt Cameron?s real agenda for convening this conference.

I think Nigerian leaders need to be held responsible for allowing corruption to reach such a level that it now prevents the country from functioning normally. It is governance failure that allows corruption to reach intolerable level. Corruption is not as high in the UK because governance keeps it at bay.

Today we read about the head of an academy stepping down in Birmingham. He has been under investigation for financial impropriety. Four years ago he shared a platform with Cameron at the Conservative party conference. We have read a great deal about a current minister and his escapades of recent, somehow he survives in a conservative government, regardless of uncomfortable inference about why the media appeared to ignore these escapades.

If we go back in history, we can recall the brown envelopes involving some conservative MPs, the so called cash for question episode. And of course the panorama expose on a couple of past senior cabinet members of both Labour and Conservative parties ( of course nothing was proven against either of them, but it raised issues of monetary influence on law makers).

Moreover, we all know the reasons why there was a need for Leveson Enquiry. What about the way MPs fiddled their expenses and the second home thing? Also some MPs (including mine) spending astonishing amount on stamps? Also the legitimate annual expense of MPs is significantly more than their annual salary. Is this not a way of pretending to the led that they are on reasonable income? Last but not the least I will just mention one word: Hillsborough.

Can we also take a poll about ex cabinet and prime ministers? How many of them leave office and straightaway go to work for a big corporation? One left office and straightaway joined the board of an investment bank, without any work experience in the sector. Our imagination can come up with various permutations about why ex government official are offered such opportunities.

A former Prime Minister created a foundation afterwards and now pays millions in salary to his employees every year, we even read this year business is so good that a significant pay rise was awarded to staff, the pay rise was higher than the income of many teachers and nurses! He does a lot of work in places like Nigeria (surprise! surprise!) and the Middle East, representing the economic interests of feudalistic and undemocratic regimes. He even found time to deliver a key note address at the opening ceremony of a Charismatic/Pentecostal church in Nigeria. Of course the key note address was not a charity event.

What does history tell us? That the UK government has not typically sided with fight against corruption in Nigeria. When the second republic ended in the early 80s, most of the corrupt politicians ran to the UK and made it their home, running away from prosecution in Nigeria. They were welcomed with open arms ( of course by the government, because of the ill gotten cash they brought). In the last decade, a corrupt politician was apprehended by the MET, inexplicably, he was able to escape justice by running back to Nigeria, disguised as a woman! How did that happened? Over the decades capital loaned to Third world countries have returned back to the West, without doing what it was intended. No time to address the corruption that allowed powerful people like Saville to perpetrate abuse in Institutions across the nation.

The UK government will always act in its own interest. That is what most nations do. We will be naive not to understand that. Buhari and Nigerian leaders should realise this. Our destiny is in our own hands. Don?t bother to come to these conferences because there is no real conviction underpinning them. Our government in the UK makes a lot of noise about human rights, but if it jeopardises our financial interest we quickly back off. Our dealings with corrupt government in the Middle East will bear this out.

Buhari and Nigerian leaders should just stay at home and address the problems. UK and the remaining nations in the west would always protect their own interests because this is what nations do.

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