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Still on David Cameron’s comments    

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Expectedly, people should react to what can best be described as glib talk by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who has tagged both Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt” nations, during a video conversation he had with Queen Elizabeth of England. The Prime Minister was talking about the anti-corruption summit, which was recently held in London that took place at Buckingham Palace, to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.

It is unfortunate that Nigeria has found itself in this mess. Over the years, our leaders have milked the nation dry in great proportions. What this simply means is that what should be the commonwealth has ended up in the pockets of the very few elite at the great expense of the multitude, who daily die as a result of the perilous situation they have been subjected to by our leaders.

No doubt, Cameron’s statement can be said to be both true and false. True in the sense that Nigeria is noted to be a top country when it comes to corruption and impunity, at least, borrowing from the recent statistics, which indicated that Afghanistan was ranked at 167, ahead of only Somalia and North Korea, in Transparency International’s 2015 corruption perception index. In it our dear country, Nigeria was 136th! Cameron’s assertion is false in the sense that concerted efforts are being made to put the country on the right track. This, the British Authorities cannot claim ignorance. Therefore, his allegation cannot be said to be truly sincere going by the context in which it was made. No wonder that after Mr. Cameron made his costly comments, Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, interjected by saying: “But this particular President (Muhammadu Buhari) is not corrupt … he’s trying very hard.”

It is unfortunate that Nigeria has found itself in this mess. Over the years, our leaders have milked the nation dry in great proportions. What this simply means is that what should be the commonwealth has ended up in the pockets of the very few elite at the great expense of the multitude, who daily die as a result of the perilous situation they have been subjected to by our leaders.

Not only do we find ourselves in this unfortunate circumstance. Stolen wealth of the nation have been domiciled in foreign lands with the hope it would serve as the safe haven made possible by the various legislation in these countries that encourage stolen monies to be safely kept. Cameron cannot claim ignorance of this reality.

To say the least, our British friends have remained accomplices in the crime over the years. This was the editorial of The Guardian of the United Kingdom, titled, “The Guardian View on Corruption: David Cameron Should Look Closer to Home,” which observed has that the British system makes it possible 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.”

The well respected publication stated further that “the President of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, currently facing allegations that he failed to declare his assets, owns a property in London’s Belgravia in his own name. But last month’s Panama Papers revealed that the £5.7million property next door is owned by companies incorporated in the Seychelles and British Virgin Islands, whose respective shareholders are Saraki’s wife and former special assistant. And a£1.65million townhouse in Kensington is shown as belonging to a BVI company whose sole shareholder is Folorunsho Coker, former head of the number plate production authority of the state of Lagos and currently business adviser to the governor of Lagos. None of these individuals may have done anything wrong, but the charge from those campaigners is hard to duck. Under successive governments, from Thatcher to Blair to Cameron, London has become the financial centre for the world’s dirty money”.

That is why it is not too surprising that the response given by President Buhari seems to be impressive. Afterall, the man knows what is happening in Nigeria. Buhari, who spoke briefly with Sky News after he delivered his keynote address at the Commonwealth event tagged: “Tackling Corruption Together: A Conference for Civil Society, Business and Government Leaders,” said he would not demand an apology from Cameron for describing Nigeria as a “fantastically corrupt” country. Rather, Buhari had said all he would demand from Cameron was the return of Nigeria’s stolen assets. That is what we certainly need for now and not any apology. It is sheer distraction. Let the monies be repatriated and injected into our comatose economy. Not only that, we should ensure that the existing framework that makes it possible to loot the economy with ease is redressed.

From all that have transpired, what one can comfortably say that the Cameron’s statement was reckless, purely political and was meant to discredit the integrity of Nigeria, perhaps, to score cheap credit before the Queen, as it was not necessary at all to have passed such a statement in the first instance. Silence could be golden at times. Rather, what the United Kingdom should do to help Nigeria is to: Firstly, stop receiving stolen money from Nigerians. When it is simple logic that conversion is promoted when there is a reliable custody to hide stolen resources.

One can comfortably say that the Cameron’s statement was reckless, purely political and was meant to discredit the integrity of Nigeria, perhaps, to score cheap credit before the Queen, as it was not necessary at all to have passed such a statement in the first instance. Silence could be golden at times. Rather, what the United Kingdom should do to help Nigeria is to: Firstly, stop receiving stolen money from Nigerians. When it is simple logic that conversion is promoted when there is a reliable custody to hide stolen resources.

Secondly, help repatriate the looted funds that are stashed away in the British economy. Rather than feeding fat on the looted funds from other nations, usually developing countries, the colonial masters should evolve strategies that would do away with dirty monies from their economies. Thirdly, support the government in its anti-graft war. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to present correct facts and figures about the nation to the international community, not falsehood and half-truths.

We do not need to argue that many Nigerians are people of high integrity and accomplishments in all ramifications. Many scientists, business executives, students, researchers and academics are known to be excelling in several parts of the world. Cameron cannot claim ignorance of the giant strides being made by Nigerian scholars living in the United Kingdom. That is why his recent statement is certainly not be a true reflection of what Nigeria and Nigerians stand for, not minding the few ones that have given our nation a bad name. And my last word for the imperialists: Stop being an accomplice to receiving and harbouring resources and owners of stolen wealth. Simple!
• Kupoluyi is of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State.
Email: adewalekupoluyi@yahoo.co.uk,@adewalekupoluyi


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