Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

FBI arrest of Nigerian scammers—is it a disgrace?

Sourced from https://www.voanews.com/usa/how-dozens-nigerian-scammers-stole-millions-people-businesses

Many Nigerians are still seething from the seeming disgrace of the recent FBI arrest of 80 Nigerian internet scammers. Nigerians are hanging their heads in shame of this seeming “betrayal” of “our good name.” Amazing! Is it not? Moreover, this “shameful” situation bred an array of image fixers: multiple propaganda videos—presumably cooked up by the Nigerian officials—surfaced on the internet touting the great achievement of Nigerians and asking Nigerians to share the videos and to be proud of their heritage. Indeed!

There is no doubt that Nigerians are great people, great achievers, and given the chance or even half a chance are capable of great feats. Nigerians, spread out across the world, in situations where they indisputably are the underdogs as foreigners, have achieved great honor and leadership positions which is a credit to their hard work and dedication to duty, in countries where the opportunity to thrive is available to them. Within Nigeria, there are people who if given the opportunity will be great innovators. Nigerians are achievers!

The Nigerians arrested by the FBI for their infamous acts are only a symptom of a disease: They point to a diagnosis. As long as the disease is undiagnosed, the appropriate treatment will not be rendered. Treating the symptom and not the disease is a sure way to succumb to a disease.

The sudden race by the Nigerian government to produce a positive image among Nigerians in the face of this “bad news” is somewhat surprising. Better still, it is laughable. Can they not see the great shame brought on Nigeria by the ravaging corruption among Nigerian government officials? How do Nigerian leaders think they are perceived when they go to foreign hospitals for their healthcare? Does the British prime minister go to Germany for his healthcare, or the French president to the U.S? The underlying reason why Nigerian leaders continue to go outside the country for treatment is the underlying reason for the negative image of Nigeria: corrupt leaders.

Every day one hears Nigerian leaders talking of conquering one prevailing vice or the other in the country, be it hunger, poverty or insecurity, and yet they turn a blind eye to corruption or pay its extermination lip service. However, no sustainable progress can be made in Nigeria until corruption is arrested. All the programs in a country need money to achieve and to sustain. When funds continually disappear from the state coffers, these worthwhile aspirations can never be achieved.

So is it shameful for these Nigerians to be scammers and be arrested by the FBI? You bet! But, far greater is the shame from the perpetual stealing by Nigerian leaders that leaves Nigeria open to scorn and keeps her citizens living in abject poverty and deplorable conditions. In 2016, the erstwhile British Prime Minister called Nigeria “fantastically corrupt.” There is an Igbo adage that says that you do not want to resemble the insult you are given, but that is where Nigerian finds itself today. Because of the shameful corruption among the Nigerian leadership, the incessant looting of the country, Nigeria is indeed looking like the insult she has been given. Is it not shameful when such a richly endowed country has not a single hospital capable of treating its president? Is it not shameful when Nigerian leaders, leaving their country underdeveloped, go all over the developed countries buying mansions without considering that the leaders of those countries do not come to Nigeria to buy mansions? Is it not shameful when according to the U.N, Nigeria—the richest country in Africa by GDP—accounts for 19% of the world’s maternal deaths, and TIME magazine Feb. 18/ Feb.25, 2019 issue captions Nigeria “the world’s worst country to give birth?” 

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Happy 59th Birthday Nigeria!

Happy 59th birthday Nigeria! Today Nigeria marks 59 years of independence from her colonial master, and freedom from colonization is without doubt worthy of celebration. As we celebrate this Independence Day, it is again a good time to reflect on our areas of achievement and failure. 

For a country consisting of no less than 250 ethnic groups, who did not come together of their own free will, to remain together for 59 years is a laudable feat. Nigerians I salute you! From the north to the south and from the east to the west; the Hausa-Fulani, the Igbo, the Yoruba, the Ijaw, the Kanuri, the Annang, the Tiv, the Ibibio, the Etsako, the Efik  and on and on and on: Congratulations! It may not have been all fun and games but Nigeria has remained as one, seeking a future together, showing a great resilience and defying the reckless attitude of the colonial masters who contrived a union so heterogeneous as to have little hope of survival. But here we are, 59 years and counting: Hooray Nigerians!

Then again, lest we forget, the state of our beloved country calls for deep reflection. If after 59 years of independence and with diverse resources such as should have brought us to a good place, we still find ourselves the world capital of unfavorable statistics: world poverty capital, the sole contributor of almost a fifth of the world’s maternal mortality—we need a good dose of soul searching. A look around Nigeria today is depressing; it is almost as if the river is flowing backwards: eighty percent of Nigerians live on less than two dollars a day, insecurity is worse than it has ever been, roads are death traps, hospitals are poorly funded, poorly functional and patients have to buy their own supplies for treatment while the country’s leaders award themselves the benefit of treatment “abroad.”

Is this not therefore a good time for soul searching? Surely, much as we do not need to be “exactly like anyone else” we need to hold up a standard that is highly estimable. Perhaps, we should take a peek at countries with whom we started out around the same time in this journey of independence and democracy. Take note that Nigeria’s crude oil was discovered in 1956 and she gained independence from Great Britain in 1960. Now, let’s consider a couple of countries with similar backgrounds.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) gained independence from Great Britain in 1971; oil was discovered in it in the early 1960s. The UAE has so managed its oil wealth and diversified its revenue sources as to make it a wonder to the world. They have shunned corruption and turned a desert into a thriving tourist attraction, wiping out poverty for their people.

Again, consider Singapore. It gained independence from Great Britain in 1963 and was expelled from Malaysia in 1965. Singapore also had crude oil but developed the country in order to attract foreign investors. Today Singapore, a highly developed free-market economy, has lifted its people from abject poverty and created a thriving middle class. How has it been able to do this? Singapore is the 7th least corrupt country in the world! 

Sadly, it would seem, our country has not lived up to standard, not even close. Neither the leadership of the country nor the citizenry has come to maturity in terms of what makes for a viable economy. The leaders lack patriotism and the aspiration to better the lot of their citizens, and the citizens lack the impetus to demand leadership. Rather than laudable achievements, the leaders of Nigeria are recognized all over the world for corruption. Self-aggrandizement has become the sole purpose for politicians seeking public office and the masses have become acclimatized to this with incredible lassitude: corruption and lack of accountability have become the norm, and lack of development the outcome. 

And so, at a time when Nigeria should be setting the pace for Africa, lifting her people out of poverty, decreasing the gap between the rich and the poor, she finds herself shackled by corruption, a task master more vicious that any colonial master.

Fellow Nigerian, is it not time to demand answers from our leaders?

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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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Nigerian Independence Day

Another year, another birthday and Nigeria is 58. Hooray for our beloved homeland! But wait. On looking back over the past 58 years how much have we achieved? What do we have to celebrate?

While one must not focus only on keeping up with the Jones, sometimes though, one has to check one’s self. It is not about unhealthy competition, it is about self-evaluation.

Some comparisons may be enlightening. Consider just two other countries similar to Nigeria in preexisting poverty, age since independence, and possession of crude oil.

Singapore gained independence from Great Britain in 1963 and was expelled from Malaysia in 1965. A small country one may say, but still. Singapore had oil but it took time to develop the country in order to attract foreign investors. It is now a highly developed free-market economy, and has taken its people from abject poverty to good living or at least middle class. Is it any wonder when Singapore is the 7th least corrupt countries in the world?

Then there is the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—it gained independence from Great Britain in 1971. Crude oil was discovered in the early 1960s before its independence. As of today, the UAE has judiciously managed its oil wealth and become a top tourist destination. They diversified their revenue source and built infrastructure which is now among the wonders of the world. They have wiped out poverty for their people.

Nigeria’s crude oil was first discovered in 1956 in Oloibiri in Niger delta. Nigeria gained independence from Great Britain in 1960. Today, hunger is more than it has ever been in Nigerian history.

So as we leave our 58 years behind and embark on the journey to our 59th, let us take stock and ask ourselves: are our leaders leading us up into a good place of prosperity or down into a dungeonof poverty, in the path of betterment for all or in the path of depravity and perpetual lack? Our politicians live in wanton wealth and the governed in abject poverty.

Arise O compatriots, make your voices heard!

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