Corruption in Africa: The global conspiracy
Africa has never been short of various nomenclatures, but corruption has often been fingered to be the major hindrance undermining the continent’s ability to deliver on its developmental agenda and set goals. The Commonwealth event “Tackling Corruption Together: A Conference For Civil Society, Business And Government Leaders” held during the week at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, London, United Kingdom, may have underscored the point even more so. The event, however, has thrown up debates about the culpability of Western nations to frustration in Africa’s anti-corruption war.
Many have scuffed at the profiling, the like insinuated by the Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron in the run up to the summit, derisively describing Nigeria (alongside Afghanistan) as fantastically corrupt nations.
Speaking to The Guardian during the Third Pan-African Capacity Development Forum, the executive secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACDF) Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, said the corruption tag is harming the continent in no small way.
“Without any doubt, there is serious case of corruption in Africa, and make no mistake about it, we must do more to deal with, but painting the continent in that garb is unwarranted. I can tell you clearly: Africa is not the most corrupt continent in the world.”
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), corruption became evident when government functions are impaired. Economic and developmental experts at various summits have also pointed out that the malaise can adversely affect a number of important determinants of economic performance, including macro financial stability, investment, human capital accumulation, and total factor productivity. Moreover, when systemic corruption affects virtually all state’s functions, distrust of government can become so pervasive that it can lead to violence, civil strife, and conflict, with devastating social and economic implications. All of which are very familiar colours of Africa.
Although, corruption is often understood as being transactional in nature (a bribe being the typical example), but it can also be manifested, according to IMF’s recent report, by powerful networks between business and government that effectively result in the privatisation of public policy.
In the words of Managing Director of the Transparency International, Cubus de Swardt, “There is no doubt that historically, Nigeria and Afghanistan have had very high levels of corruption, and that continues to this day. But the leaders of those countries have sent strong signals that they want things to change, and the London anti-corruption Summit creates an opportunity for all countries present to sign up to a new era. This affects the UK as much as other countries: we should not forget that by providing a safe haven for corrupt assets, the UK and its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies are part of the world’s corruption problem.”
The other side of African profiling may as well be an indictment on many developed countries, including Britain, Switzerland, France, Germany and the United States. These countries are active collaborators and accomplices in perpetration of acts of corruption. They have also made return of stolen money to their countries of origin as tedious as possible. A fact which may have influenced President Muhammadu Buhari’s response to Mr. Cameron’s snide remark. “Our experience has been that repatriation of corrupt proceeds is very tedious, time consuming, costly and entails more than just the signing of bilateral or multilateral agreements. This should not be the case as there are provisions in the appropriate United Nations Convention that require countries to return assets to countries from where it is proven that they were illegitimately acquired.
“Our sad national experience had been that domestic perpetrators of corrupt practices do often work hand-in-hand with international criminal cartels,” Buhari said.
Indeed, one of the chief reasons why the Nigerian President attended the London anti-corruption summit was to lobby the United Kingdom, specifically, to sort out the tax havens in London.
Recently, a Nigerian anti-graft group had written Cameron to intimate his government on a planned anti-corruption protest. The letter read:
“But these efforts are sadly undermined if countries such as your own are welcoming our corrupt to hide their ill-gotten gains in your luxury homes, department stores, car dealerships, private schools and anywhere else that will accept their cash with no questions asked. The role of London’s property market as vessels to conceal stolen wealth has been exposed in court documents, reports, documentaries and more.”
Under various UK governments, dating back to Mrs. Margret Thatcher to Mr. Tony Blair to Cameron, London has become the financial centre for the world’s dirty money.
A third of all the trillions hiding offshore are sitting in tax havens linked to the UK, according to Oxfam. These havens rely on Britain for security and protection.
The West has allegedly used corrupt leaders of developing countries as conduit pipes to transfer funds illegally from their countries. “My experience as a Portfolio manager on Wall Street for twenty eight consecutive years has validated this. The huge capital inflows into the US in the early 2000s and a profound hunger for investment from developing countries actually fueled America’s housing boom. Financial assets of many foreign investors were completely wiped out by Wall Street mortgage malpractice,” Mr. Dayo Ayeni said.
But the main culprit may as well be the Africans who rob their countries and feel no shame and remorse.