Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Too Big For Jail Time?

 The dust has all but settled on the re-election of President Buhari for his second term in office and the work before him and Nigerians in setting the country on the road to success is great indeed. A major point in his manifesto, both in the 2015 and again in 2019, was to fight the crippling corruption in the Nigerian government. Now that he has received the people’s mandate, it is the turn of Nigerians to see if he will provide the good governance he promised. This is his chance to leave a legacy. Will Nigerians remember him for establishing a precedent on how to robustly tackle corruption and win, for establishing a standard for the country on how to successfully conquer corruption moving forward, or will he be remembered for nepotism, herdsmen killing and maintaining the status quo of corruption?

It is unfortunate that corruption has become an accepted way of life in Nigeria—a trend which has turned a country with great potential into one that is becoming a failed state. Yet, Nigerians fail to see—it would seem— that no definite progress can be made by the country until corruption is conquered. Corruption, an enemy that has killed more Nigerians than any war, should not be handled lightly. 

While not advocating the death penalty for kleptocracy as is the case in China, Nigeria needs to do more than recover the stolen money from corrupt officials. Long prison terms, if not life in jail, after the recovery of the stolen money, is the only thing that will be punishment enough to deter the deep-seated kleptocracy in Nigeria. 

The main perpetuating cause of kleptocracy in Nigeria is the impunity which thieves in government enjoy; there is also the ignorance among the larger proportion of Nigerians who believe that the mere fact that you held a high level political office for 5 or 10 years implies that you can parade tens of millions of dollars and the position you have held merits such wealth.  Add to these the vast amounts of money available to be stolen (public office is by far the most lucrative career in Nigeria) and it becomes clear why being elected into public office is a do or die venture.    

No nation can achieve its objective of infrastructure development, successful nation building or sustained advancement in the face of deep-seated corruption. There are few places on earth where corruption is more deep seated than in Nigeria—as evidenced not only by its ranking of 144 out of 188 in Transparency International latest worldwide corruption perception index but also by the evident insecurity, unemployment and decay of infrastructure.

President Buhari speaks a lot against corruption and his words kindle hope. But one wonders: Is it going to be all talk and no action? Moreover, in the fight against corruption in Nigeria there must be no friend or foe. There must be no respect of persons or personalities. The practice whereby some of the politicians when caught, return the stolen money and then go scot free, which is prevalent currently in Nigeria, only promotes impunity. Returning the stolen money is not punishment; jail time after returning the money is punishment. As long as corrupt officials are allowed to use their loot to defend themselves, as long as they can make a pretense of returning part of the money and continue to come and go as free men, as long as thieves in government are celebrated as wealthy people rather than censored as criminals, corruption will not cease in Nigeria, neither will Nigeria be able to develop or take a respectable position in the world.                          

Clearly, the only government that will propel the country forward is one that institutionalizes the fight against corruption and institutionalizes dire consequences for the corrupt. If by the end of his second term in office, Buhari has not only waged the war against corruption but also fully conquered it, he would have left his mark on Nigeria as a veritable statesman, perhaps the first Nigeria has known after the fathers of Nigerian independence. And he would have turned Nigeria from the path to a failed state to that of success.

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Of Elections, Rigging and Body bags

The last week or two has seen, in Nigeria, a frenzy of activity and impressive feats worthy of a Nollywood script, what with campaign rallies accompanied by stage collapse, stampedes at political rallies and mounting loss of life.  The run-up to the presidential election of Africa’s most populous nation is beginning to look like a do or die venture. In a seeming display of disarray, the offices of the country’s electoral commission have suffered multiples break-ins, vandalism of vote collation equipment and torching. Illegal polling units have been discovered in parts of the country. There has been a boiling over of emotions and frenzy with confrontations between political party faithful and burning of opponent’s vehicles.

Amid these signs of escalating disorder the US ambassador to Nigeria, W Stuart Symington, gave the nation a piece of advice regarding the election and that unleashed a not so peaceful retort from el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, as he threatened that any foreigners who dared to interfere will be sent back to their countries in body bags.  

But maybe Nigerian politicians need to take a step back and assess what will make an outsider caution them about how to run their affairs. What gives these countries the “audacity” to make apparently unwelcome comments about the affairs of the nation? Perhaps it is the obvious disarray, compounded by the poor history of credible elections in Nigeria. Or maybe it is the glaring and ever worsening poverty of the masses, and its effect on the rest of the world from economic migration? Or maybe it is because the country gives every appearance of deteriorating into a failed state with consequences for its citizens and the world at large? What is to be expected when Nigerian politicians show every sign of incompetence in running the affairs of the country? 

If one shows evidence that one cannot run one’s affairs, and make it apparent that they are breaking at the seams, then, one unintentionally gives other people the opportunity to speak into one’s situation. One thing that seems to elude Nigerian politicians is that the world is witness to their poor job performance which is evident in the deficiencies in the country under their watch. When your masses are getting more desperate by the day, when hunger becomes a cause of death for the poorest citizens, when there is ever worsening insecurity, when politicians have to leave their country to seek healthcare outside because the healthcare system is poorly functional, then you leave the door open for people to give you unsolicited advice on how to run your affairs. 

To be respected by outsiders, the leaders of Nigeria need to respect themselves and the citizens that they are leading, by building a country that is able to care for its people. If Nigeria is run the way it should be run, with respectable infrastructure, jobs and provision made even for its weakest citizens as is done in the developed countries, respect will automatically be accorded to our leaders as should be done for people admirably in charge of their affairs. Do Nigerian politicians ever wonder why while they run to the developed countries to buy mansions and utilize state of the art healthcare facilities, the politicians from those countries do not come to Nigeria to do the same? When the US and UK threaten to deny Nigerian politicians visas to their country, it is because they know that Nigerian politicians delight in coming to avail themselves of the amenities in these countries (which are the results of good governance).

So instead of threatening foreigners with a homebound journey in body bags, perhaps Governor el-Rufai needs to work with his fellow politicians to put their house, Nigeria, in order—so that no one needs to tell them how to run their affairs. If Nigeria is working only for the politicians and the politically-connected and is not working for the masses also, then it is not working.

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2019 Nigerian Presidential Election: The Agony of Choice

Every four years the presidential election confronts Nigerians like a table set with unsavory dishes and citizens must hold their noses to partake. This year’s presidential election is no different. Most Nigerians are anguished at the choice before them: Should they choose a candidate under whom nepotism, corruption and herdsmen killings have blossomed over one whose candidacy is rife with seemingly tenacious accusations of stealing and who may steal with fresh vigor or should they take a chance on one of the several unknowns? Oh the agony of choice!

Looking at the different candidates—the anguish is real. 

On the one hand President Buhari received the people’s mandate four years ago because he promised to fight corruption and improve the lives of Nigerians, but his general attitude towards corruption among his close associates has been anything but encouraging. Many of his appointees have shown uncommon avarice. But even as Nigerians waited with bated breath to see the president wage a just war against this blatant corruption under his watch, he met their expectations with an odd tepidity and indolence. Add to that the unsettling fact that in a country with so many qualified candidates he has chosen most of his appointees from his hometown and friends, with some of them evidently lacking the requisite qualification. But the worst part of the last four years, in addition to worsening poverty and non-payment of salaries, is the massive loss of life from the herdsmen killing which has received a perturbing silence from the president.

And then there is the candidacy of Atiku. It is only in Nigeria, or at least the rest of Africa, that a government official will be found with riches beyond what they could have justly earned in their government post and they expect people to accept it as legitimate. Do the citizens not realize that such money was taken illicitly from the country, from them the citizens? In Nigeria, past presidents start multi-million dollar businesses after their tenure, without other obvious source of income, and no one seems to question where they got such massive wealth from. Does the cart go before the horse? Does the accumulation of wealth occur before enterprise or does wealth accumulate from enterprise? In the developed countries the former would be called money laundering which is actually a crime. That correct assessment of wealth and proper terminology in referring to it is why the developed countries are developed: They use the money that belongs to their country to develop their country. So, with this candidacy, unfortunately, it is unclear what the situation is. We Nigerians must use our brains!

And then, enter the numerous candidates most of whom do not have name recognition or a record to run on. Are they a safe haven? A nail biting decision indeed!

But above all, what we as Nigerians do not seem to realize is that the governance does not end with the election. Governance starts after the elections and—to be successful—consists of two parties: the governing and the governed—each with their responsibility. As long as Nigerians are still expecting a savior that will come in and do them good of his own accord, then they have not yet understood the insatiable greed of the typical Nigerian public office aspirant nor learned the necessary lesson from our 58 years of stunted growth.  

And so? What is the governed to do in the face of the governing who wields power as a lethal weapon?

Some of us are old enough to remember the struggle of the black South Africans against apartheid. It was not easy but today apartheid is no more. When it became obvious the black South Africans would not give up the right to be treated as the equal human beings they are, the world finally joined them. What is going on in Nigeria (and most African countries) today defies nomenclature: it is not apartheid neither is it slavery yet it has possibly cost more lives than either of those—through insecurity, non-payment of salaries, dangerous roads, curable disease. And when the presidents and other government officials can go to Europe, U.S, Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere for their healthcare but ask their fellow countrymen to die in poorly equipped hospitals—the situation cries out for a new name.

In the past few weeks we have seen the French citizens demand their right, demand livable conditions—the yellow jacket protest is now in its 11th consecutive week (even after their initial demands have been met). Good governance must be demanded to be obtained! Nigerians both at home and abroad, let’s stop letting the political elite loot the land. In whatever foreign country you are, when your president visits that country for medical care, organize, and carry placards to the front of the hospital to demand he build hospitals back home that both he and others can use. When they buy mansions in the foreign land where you are, organize and march to the city hall of that town with placard and demand that the source of the money be ascertained. And also on Nigerian soil, protest peacefully until your voice is heard! Let us demand accountability and hold thieves in government accountable. Let us demand that incoming officials declare their assets before and after their tenure as stipulated in the constitution. And that includes the judiciary! When they refuse to listen, let us continue to raise our voices until we achieve a government that works for the benefit of one and all.

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A State Of Insecurity

Image credit: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/09/30-nigerian-soldiers-killed-in-boko-haram-raid/

When criminals and terrorists can outgun an army or any law enforcement agency, attack and overpower an army base: there is no security. Over the past six weeks on multiple and with an ever increasing frequency, Boko Haram operatives have attacked, subdued and massacred Nigerian soldiers. Last month, the soldiers while mourning the needless demise of 100 of their comrades lamented that the military tanks on their bases were non-functional. They were left defenseless by the country’s leaders, only to be massacred by attackers. Again within the last twenty-four hours a naval base close to Doro-Baga near Borno State was attacked and sacked by suspected Boko Haram insurgents with officer fatality, forcing the overpowered Nigerian troops to withdraw from their own base.

It is a tragedy when the defenders of the security of the country are left defenseless and insecure. All over the world, the quality, training and performance of law enforcement officials reflects on the quality of their government. The recent and ongoing aggression and attacks against the Nigerian army by the Boko haram insurgents should be great cause for concern and cause for immediate action by the Nigerian government. But, it would seem that to the leaders, the current dire state of insecurity is business as usual. If the soldiers whose job it is to protect the citizens are themselves vulnerable, what about the citizens?

But, where is the equipment for the army to perform their job? What has been happening to the funds budgeted for the military/defense? Is there no budget for the country’s defense? Is our military equipment supposed to continue to deteriorate? Is Nigeria too poor to equip its security forces?

At a time when Nigeria should be a beacon of hope to the rest of Africa, it finds itself wallowing in the mud of corruption and its horrible consequences, on the verge of being a failed state. And yet the politicians, who should run the affairs of the country to the benefit of all, regime after regime, seem blissfully ignorant of their abysmal failure. No country can make progress when corruption blossoms. President Buhari’s attitude to corruption since taking office has been disappointing. The tepid attempts at fighting corruption seems directed only towards his opponents. For anti-corruption efforts to succeed there must be no friend or foe attitude.

We as Nigerians need to wake up to the truth about corrupt politicians. Corrupt politicians are the greatest threat to the peace and security of a nation. We need to use every avenue open to us to hold our leaders accountable. As long as tens of millions of US dollars in cash keep showing up in people’s wardrobes, fireproof safes and behind-the-house-shipping-containers, there will no progress or security. Corruption has consequences. If money is stolen it will not do what it is supposed to do and the citizens suffer. So, fellow Nigerians, when next you see a politician known to be wealthy from his political office, look at him as you would at any armed robber: no R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

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Is the army for us or against us?

What is the worth of a Nigerian life? How much value do the country’s leaders place on it? This question was not far from my mind when as a university student I travelled between Ibadan and Ife in the 1980s and sometimes saw a corpse lying on the roadside just like the remains of any dog or cat. That same question comes to mind when we see security forces in Nigeria interact with protesting citizens. It is troubling to see the highhandedness with which protesting citizens are squashed.

The recent attack by the army on a crowd of protesting Shiite Muslims was a distressing sight.  I do not support disorder, nor applaud anarchy. But, when law enforcement officials open fire with live bullets into a crowd, we must ask the question, “What is the worth of a Nigerian life to our leaders?” When is it acceptable for the army to unleash lethal force on unarmed individuals? What happened to safer methods of crowd dissipation like tear gas, rubber bullets or even Tasers? Is the country unable to provide these to our law enforcement officials or are live ammunition just the method of choice?

Such actions as displayed by the soldiers suggest that there is no culpability when law enforcement uses lethal force on unarmed protesters or worse still, that such actions are condoned by higher authorities. Much as we must support our law enforcement officials who are often called upon to put their lives at risk in the line of duty, reckless disregard for human life must not be tolerated. Perhaps these officials lack training in handling a disorderly crowd, perhaps they lack the necessary equipment to handle the situation appropriately, or maybe they feel at liberty to act with impunity because of the lack of accountability.

The army has of course denied confronting the protesters, stating instead that it was the protesters that took them on by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, but these are not comparable to live ammunition.  And to whom much power has been given, much restraint is expected. When we watched the wounded carried by their friends and saw the bodies on the ground, we could only wonder: how could those who have been given the power to protect the citizens use that power instead to end their lives?

Human life is valuable and irreplaceable. Our law enforcement officials deserve to be protected by being well-equipped and well-trained to safely carry out their duty. But respect for human life is one of the fundamental qualities of a civilized society. Those whose duty it is to protect the citizens must not turn around to attack the citizens. The quality of law enforcement and security in Nigeria remains rudimentary at best and casts the country in a bad light. We continue to look forward to the day when adequate resources will be committed to law enforcement and security in our country. We look forward to when our men and women in uniform will be equipped in every necessary way such that they capably carry out their duty for the safety of all.  

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Forever Captive?

When will Nigeria stop groaning under the thumb of her colonial master? Yes, yes, Nigeria got her independence from Britain in 1960. Or so we thought. One aspect of colonialism was difficult for the masters to give up. Why? Consider the reasons for colonialism. The primary motivation for colonization was economic, although there were also political and social benefits. So when Nigeria was given her independence, her wealth was not something the colonial master could easily turn their back on. All that cocoa and rubber and palm oil, and best of all, the newly discovered crude oil tugged at the heart of the colonial masters. But then their regret turned to joy. Slowly but surely they will get the money after all. For, it became obvious with time, the Nigeria heads of state and politicians were like cats left in charge of mice. It turned out for the British much better than they could have expected. The boundless greed of Nigerian politicians became Britain’s windfall.

This week we welcome the Prince of Wales and his wife Princess Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. They will be in Nigeria from November 6th to the 8th as part of their tour of Africa. Mr. Arkwright, the British high commissioner to Nigeria, talking to the News Agency of Nigeria in preparation for the visit, laid out an agenda that includes finding workable solutions to the problem of the herdsmen who have been slaughtering Nigerian farmers and others. According to Mr. Arkwright, “Some of the issues like the farmers/herders crises are deep-rooted and are about the economy, land resource, climate change and cultural issues.” He also said that addressing the root of the problems would lead to a peaceful and more prosperous Nigeria.  But what Mr. Arkwright, and likely, the visiting royals hesitate to acknowledge is the prominent part Britain is playing in the corruption that keeps that “economy” backwards and prevents a “more prosperous Nigeria.”

We have watched Nigerian heads of state and then politicians over the years drain the country of its wealth leaving their fellow countrymen in abject poverty. And who is the recipient and guardian of their loot? Look no further than Britain and Switzerland, and lately the U.S. A good part of the multi-million dollar homes in London are owned by Nigerian officials whose sole source of wealth is the loot from their positions as public servants. Britain knows it, the U.S. knows it and the world knows it. Yet, all we hear about is the aid they give us. According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), financial outflows from developing economies through trade misinvoicing and other corrupt practices perpetrated through shell companies, tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions far exceed the aid and other assistance from developed countries. The illicit financial outflow from developing countries in 2013 alone was $1.1 trillion (with sub-Saharan Africa suffering the biggest loss—about 6.1% of GDP) while the combined total of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and net Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the developed countries to the developing economies for that year was $957.3 billion: a net loss of $42.7billion by the developing economies.

So when David Cameron said that Nigeria was fantastically corrupt he had firsthand knowledge of the evidence of that corruption. Nigerian money has been flowing boundlessly into the U.K and its overseas territories without restraint. True, they see the dilapidation of Nigeria. They hear the groans of her people. But, they know the benefit to their own economy. And greed, that eternal enemy of all good intentions, has not allowed them to truly free the captive. Corruption, the bane of Nigeria, is a boom to its former colonial master. Hence, they hesitate to do what is in their power to stop it.

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Governor Ganduje allegedly caught red handed!

Except if Governor Ganduje of Kano state can prove he was auditioning for a Nollywood part that required him to stuff his agbada with bundles of US$100 notes, he has a lot of explaining to do. This video caught him right in the act of pocketing bundles of millions of US dollars. There is no depth to which our politicians will not sink in search of illicit wealth. In most other countries this would be cause for immediate embarrassment and tendered resignation After said resignation, he would be prosecuted. But not In Nigeria.

Nigerian officials continually accept bribes and look the other way while substandard roads and other infrastructure are built. These officials know that their colleagues will cover up for them with fake investigations and hearings. They neither return the money nor serve time in prison. If their case happens to get to court they pay off the judiciary and go scot free. That is why, year after year Nigeria remains stagnant, bagging notoriety in every category: most dangerous country on earth for a woman to give birth, poverty capital of the world, worst police force in the world and of course the indictment that explains all the preceding—high ranking in world corruption index.

There are corrupt officials in every country in the world. However, no country can make progress when it allows corruption to go unchecked. While Nigeria does not need to go to the extent of Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (he executed three former heads of state amidst others), or China (it has the death penalty for serious cases of corruption), corruption must be addressed if Nigeria is to make progress. The only regime that can bring sanity to the chaos in Nigeria is the one that can recover the stolen wealth from the past presidents and other politicians. These politicians should also be given life sentences in prison. These past and present politicians who have stolen the country’s wealth should not be regarded as big men. A thief is not a big man because a truly big man cannot be a thief. Only life-changing punishments can scare and deter the seasoned thieves that parade the corridors of power. No Nigerian regime can claim to be fighting corruption if they favor their friends, if they close their eyes to the looting in their own ranks.

The regime of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan did not fight corruption; if anything, they competed with or surpassed previous administrations in corruption. The current Buhari regime has not done anything to change the perception or the reality regarding corruption. Corruption is blossoming with impunity in his administration, right before our eyes. Whatever regime comes in next year, if we do not engage in a determined and enduring struggle against corruption, the unfortunate direction of the country will not change. The problem is not just for Nigerians living in Nigeria. For those in the diaspora, it was not the bad weather that made you leave Nigeria; it was the search for greener pastures. But one undeniable truth is that with our vast natural resources and year-long beautiful weather, a well-run Nigeria is the greenest pasture of all.

It is the corrupt officials in government that deprive the masses of their livelihood and drive the sons and daughters of Nigeria out of their homeland. Nigerians are dying in the Sahara, some in the Mediterranean; yet others are brutalized and killed in foreign lands: in South Africa, in China and in India. Whereas we should be able to enjoy our rich heritage right on our own soil, all over the world many Nigerians are suffering because of the wrong-doing of their leaders. Our children need not be strangers to their heritage. There is no level of development Nigeria cannot achieve, no height we cannot attain, if our bountiful God-given resources are used to the benefit of our land. But that will not happen as long as thieves in government continue to gather millions of dollars at our expense. It will not happen as long as Ghana-must-go bags, fireproof cabinets or shipping containers stuffed with millions of dollars keep showing up in the homes of politicians. Truly, enough is enough!

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It’s That Time Again!

Photo courtesy of National Trail http://nationaltrailonline.com.ng/cvr-22-156-males-12-099-females-additional-voters-to-vote-in-niger-state-in-2019/

The 2019 presidential election in Nigeria is around the corner! The array of choices seems endless—the old, the young, the have-been, the new-comer, the corrupt, the “honest”, the males and the females. It would have been quite entertaining if the stakes weren’t so high. Since independence, not one president has left a legacy of good governance. Instead, they go into office as near-paupers and come out mega-rich. The same goes for the other politicians. They have no regard for their fellow Nigerians. In every country, people’s lives ride on the performance of their leaders. Poor governance is costing us lives in Nigeria.

This feels like 2015 all over again. At that time, frustration with corruption drove people to the polls in search of change. Some of us aren’t sure if we jumped from frying pan to fire. Almost four years later we are still in dire need of change. We are plagued not only with worsening corruption but also killings, nepotism, hunger, non-payment of salaries and so on. We find ourselves still roaming about in the wilderness—still far from our Promised Land.

There is no doubt that we were not prepared for the form of government the colonial masters left us. It was one that required a certain level of civic awareness, education, high expectation of government and decent livelihood of the public. These are qualities we didn’t have then and still lag way behind in even to this today. Additionally our legion of tribes are stuck in their own identity, becoming a recipe for disaster.

But this need not be. It is true that our colonial masters forced our many diverse tribes and cultures into  one country, but we can use that to our advantage. It takes a lot of tolerance, generosity and foresight. It takes a spirit of cooperation. We must see ourselves as one people: one nation with one destiny. Our diversity can be strength rather than a weakness. We need to see that we will succeed together or fail together. There is one Nigeria or no Nigeria. It is only when we come together as a people and stop seeing tribe in our fellow Nigerians, that we can fight our common enemy: corruption.

As long as corrupt politicians can enjoy their loot in peace, and gain clout through the possession of it, Nigeria will not be able to make progress. It is obvious that our country is lacking in virtually everything it needs for our people to live well: health care, jobs, security, safe roads, safe water, adequate schools, electricity and regular payment of salaries. Our money should be working for us. Instead, it is exported and works to the benefits of our corrupt politicians and foreign lands.

So, as we prepare to go to the polls, we must remember that it is not enough to vote leaders in; we must demand accountability from them. We must develop a culture of sustained peaceful protest against all forms of corruption in our elected officials until they have no hiding place for their loot. We must no longer be accommodating of corruption. It is only when the wealth of Nigeria is used for the benefit of all Nigerians that the country will move in the direction of definite and sustained progress. Courage, fellow Nigerians, as we pursue a prosperous future for all!

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The Chinese Invasion of Africa

Is China the new face of colonialism in Africa?

I have watched the China’s invasion of Africa with great concern. It reminds me of a story I once heard about a certain traveler and his horse. A traveler on horse-back was caught up in the rain. He stopped and set up a tent. As he snuggled in the tent, the horse peeked through the door. “Please could I put one of my paws in the tent, the rain is too much for me.” The traveler thought for a moment. “Okay.” Shortly after the horse said, “it’s too strenuous to have only one paw in. May I bring in the other?” Again the traveler agreed. Yet again the horse requested and finally wanted to bring the second rear paw in. The permission was barely out of the traveler’s mouth before the horse’s large form dragged the tent upon itself and the traveler was left in the rain.

The eagerness of the African leaders to line up and accept billions of US dollar loans from China is disturbing. I am even more disturbed to see the Nigerian president among them. We should be in a position to be lending to our African neighbors.

It is obvious that China is trying to position itself strategically in the world. The greed of the African heads of state has made them an easy prey and before they know it China will become the landlord and no more the tenant. Contrary to the expectation of the African leaders, China is not offering them a bonanza but bait. If we have any doubt, all we need to do is to consider what has happened to Sri Lanka which accepted more than US$8 billion dollar loan from China at high interest rate. When they could no longer afford to repay the loan China took over the seaport they built. China now has 70% stake in the port under a 99-year lease. In Africa, Zambia and Djibouti are now highly indebted to China and are on the verge of losing key infrastructure.

The embezzlement by Nigerian politicians runs into tens of billions of US dollars. That much money would have gone a long way in favorably positioning the country in the world. We could have had security, good roads, hospitals and other infrastructure. We could have attracted tourism and foreign investment. The status of every Nigerian child would have been elevated. Instead our president and our neighbors borrow from China. When China becomes in charge of most of the major infrastructure in Africa will we still be a free people? Who will be running Africa then?

But the leaders of Africa blinded by greed ignore reality and are selling their land one future at a time. Our statesmen that fought for independence must be turning in their graves. Their struggle and their hard-earned freedom are on the verge of being sacrificed. I doubt that China will be an easy master. China is not like the British, the French or the Portuguese. No. We only need to look at the record of human rights in China.

China’s loans to Africa are bait. Their interest policy and their aggressive way of getting back their money is very dangerous.  We Africans need to wake up before we pass the point of no return. This is our time to stand our ground, to pursue our future. It is our time to say no to the sly approach of neocolonialism lest we resemble the insults we have been given.

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Change for Nigeria!

Change is a word that presents different images to different people. For change to be desirable it needs to be a change for the better. Only those in a bad situation are eager for change. Whenever I think about the situation in Nigeria, it is obvious that change is overdue. In every aspect of life in Nigeria change is needed if the country is to survive and thrive.

The statistics coming out of Nigeria is cause for concern. Our country scores high marks in the most undesirable categories. Nigeria is a dangerous place to give birth. According to UNICEF, Nigeria is the second largest contributor to under-five and maternal mortality rate in the world. Nigeria alone accounts for almost 20% of maternal death in the world. In some parts of northeastern Nigeria, 1 in about 64 women die giving birth. And the news does not get better. According to The Borgen Project, current life expectancy in Nigeria is about 54 years. Nigeria is the richest country in Africa, yet our life expectancy is the lowest in even just West Africa. The reason for this is that Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Nigeria was 148th out of the 180 most corrupt countries assessed in 2017.

Expecting self-motivated change from Nigerian politicians is an unlikely event. Those who benefit from a situation are the least likely to accept or offer change. For these unfavorable statistics about our country to change there has to be a change in practice. Nigeria is a democracy. The politicians are elected to their positions. Their job is to bring about our will. Grim life expectancy is definitely not our will. It is time for us to demand accountability from our representatives.  When politicians come into office and do not declare their assets before taking office, we must demand it. When politicians leave office and do not declare their assets, we must demand it. Nigeria’s constitution states that elected officials must declare their assets as well as that of their wives and children under the age of eighteen upon taking oath and again on leaving office.

The time has come for sustained and peaceful protests—for Nigerians at home and in the diaspora—until change comes. We shouldn’t be celebrating our leaders when they come for the United Nations assembly, we should be protesting them with placards. When they leave Nigeria to come for medical care, we should carry placards in front of the hospital. Why are there no functional hospitals at home worthy of their use? When they buy multi-million dollar homes abroad with our money, we should protest in front of the city hall where they processed the deed. We should call our senators and congressmen wherever we are to demand an end to Nigerian politician laundering loot abroad.

Effecting change is not easy but it is doable and necessary. If South Africans did not rise up to protest apartheid, the world would never have joined them. Keeping quiet will not allow change to come to Nigeria. The politicians will not hand over change on a silver platter!

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