Monday, July 12, 2010

Corruption is an issue many African countries are faced with. In an effort to counter the problem, some African governments reach out to their non-African counterparts for help. Specifically, they seek agreements that will prevent some of their citizens from traveling and enjoying the benefits of being abroad. Nigeria's President Jonathan made such a request during an April visit to the United States and now, the US government is creating a lost of Nigerians banned from entry into that country. This act of having foreign governments ban Nigerians is complicated and raises concerns over what seems to be a need to have someone else save Nigeria and solve Nigeria's issues.

Make Nigeria a corruption-free zone

Photo by John Bracken

The list stems from the Corruption Proclamation 7750 which allows the US government to suspend and prevent entry of foreigners engaged in or benefiting from corruption. The law was initiated by former President George W. Bush and renewed by current President Obama. Corruption Proclamation 7750 was used to ban former governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, and his entire family, from entering the U.S. in 2006.

This new American list includes politicians believed to be "undermining the growth of democracy and acts designed to hinder the strengthening of democratic institutions in Nigeria." One Nigerian known to be on the list is former Attorney General, Michael Aondoakaa. His American visa was revoked in the first week of July in 2010. Allegedly, senior assistants and aides to late President Yar'Adua, Governors, Ministers, and the heads of agencies will be added to the list as well. And, more names will be added to the list as the US government awaits the results of cases against Nigerians charged with corruption.

Between 1970 and 2008, Nigeria reportedly lost $89.5 billion in public funds which were stolen by various officials. Corrupt officials have luxury apartments in the United Kingdom, America, South Africa and elsewhere. Many of these individuals have taken their ill gotten wealth and parked it abroad. Hence, although these officials live in Nigeria, their foreign assets allow them to enjoy the benefits of their foreign domiciles while they fail to honor their duty to develop the country for which they are responsible.

And because of the unfortunate realities in Nigeria, such individuals have evaded any form of punishment at home. Nigeria's 'Punishment Problem' means that the corrupt can use their connections and money to prevent and thwart legal consequences. As a result, Nigeria is forced to rely on foreign governments to not only find stolen monies but retrieve looted public funds and even find justice. Such was the case with James Ibori, a former governor of oil rich Delta state. Although Ibori's UK assets were frozen, a 170 count case against him in a Nigerian court was dismissed. Once there was a President-change in Nigeria, he went into hiding, fled to Ghana and somehow was arrested in Dubai where he awaits extradition to the UK, and not necessarily Nigeria. When one considers the near-impossible mission of retrieving stolen loot and punishing rich offenders in Nigeria, it becomes easy to understand why the efforts such as America's ban on allegedly corrupt officials is welcome news to many Nigerians and others across the African continent.

Unfortunately, this solution to corruption, having foreign governments limit the travels of Nigerian officials, raises an issue that Nigeria refuses to tackle. In my opinion, Nigerians have a preponderance to wait for a 'savior' to solve their problems. It is very common to hear Nigerians talk about "when a good leader comes" or "if only (fill in the blank with a Western country of your choice) will help". That "wait for a savior" attitude diminishes the fact that for whatever problems Nigeria faces, it is Nigerians themselves that must create solutions. As such, this ban, and others like it only fuel that expectation that someone other than the average Nigerian can make things better. That way of thinking is extremely dangerous and lends itself to the colonial notions that kept Nigerians and others trapped in servitude and continues to keep Nigerians trapped in supplication to domestic tyrants. In the short term and long term, such an attitude will encourage dependency that could prove problematic.

Nigerians and the Nigerian government cannot continue to wait for assistance from a foreign government or body when it comes to tackling the nation's many issues. Nigeria has the third highest tuberculosis rate in the world. The country also has the highest number of internationally displaced persons with many more doing everything within their means to leave. A high unemployment rate, inadequate infrastructure and poverty levels that are unconscionable given the country's resources, only highlight the immediate need for Nigerian solutions to Nigerian problems. After all, foreign assistance can go but so far without concrete domestic efforts to tackle the issues. And, for years, many have come with non-Nigerian solutions that have failed to produce long-term results. Instead, Nigerians, who for years have offered reasonable solutions on a big and small scale, have been rejected, chased away and even killed because their suggestions would interfere with the corrupt practices of certain leaders and their peers who benefit from the status quo. There must be a preference for locally created solutions to the country's benefit and not an absolute reliance on foreign solutions that oftentimes profit of the few.

It goes beyond saying that Nigeria has many complicated problems that need addressing, and it is obvious that dealing with these issues will take time. However, Nigerians must face the challenges that are their country and face them head on. The country cannot continue to depend on foreign intervention and assistance that could create problems down the line. While this list banning corrupt officials and their families from the US is a short term solution, a long term approach to improving the country is key. Without it, no matter of help from abroad will prove useful.

From The Archives:
- Nigeria's 50th Birthday: Suspicious Budget Increase
- Ibori: Ambush, Arrest & Arraignment
- Britain Returning Looted Millions To Nigeria
- Ibori: Case Dismissed
- Nigeria's Persisting Punishment Problem
- Nigeria's Punishment Problem
- Crime & Punishment: The Nigerian Edition
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Per said...

It is good that the government is actively seeking out those involved in corruption and getting away with it. At least that's how I see it. Asking other countries for help is a good choice. It is not weak to ask for help. It shows resolve in putting these corrupt officials to justice.

Anonymous said...

its for the best... these officials have looted our petrodollars n squandered it away...

- Tplusf from Twitter

Beauty said...

Solving problems require all hands on deck but the ban as a short term goal obviously require, mid and long term permanent plans, however, I think it is a good way forward. Never mind that I published this idea back in 2006. My point, excellent write up even though I would not have concluded the same way. Corruption exists everywhere but in our case, a few are simply stealing everything! Is this why our country has become a zombie nation that requires a lot of outside help? Yes. Anyhow, what happened to the First Lady cash scandal? Swept under the carpet? So you see why who is compiling the list is important. But that is another debate.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad they have the ban. So those officials can feel some shame for what they're doing. But I guess this will just make England a more popular destination...

Onose said...

this is such good news! my uncle was telling me about it a few days ago

Anonymous said...

NC@ this makes no sense. If the US can list those corrupt officials why cannot the Nigerian government make a similar list institute a ban on travel and indict them for their crimes. I dont see what this has to do with the US or any other government except our own. None of those leaving comments seem to see it this way which leads me to further conclude that you are absolutely right in that neither our government nor Nigerian citizens are prepared to deal with the issue themselves. This is the shame.

Beauty said...

@sokari, nice to see you here, nice. May I point out that corruption is not just a Ngn issue and the International Anti-Corruption Day is a fact. So you see, a system cannot understand itself. It is out of the box that this global cancer can be managed. We will never eradicate corruption in Nigeria or elsewhere but we can stop most of our public servants from stealing everything.

Tory MP Tony Baldry whose involvement in the James Ibori money laundering matter is a good case. He claimed not to be working as a Member of Parliament, but as a barrister. The idiot does not appear to know that his pay cheques is coming out of the Niger-Delta. The US earned $2 billion from Nigerian corruption is still making the newsrounds is another way to view this issue.

Unless we are ready for a bloody revolution which will take us back many decades (Biafran war was horrible) but the losers will always be
mainly women, children and the old aged. We should be looking at all available options to tackle corruption since its management cannot lie in one place.

RE - RecycledFrockery said...

Sis it's the same for Jamaicans. this is pure nonsense. how can you convict everyone for the crimes of a few. absolutely preposterous.

festival arts said...

Whatever Nigeria has done is done in the interest of football Ohaeri told AFP. "It is left for FIFA to decide whether what we have done has violated any of its rules.

Anonymous said...

The political and financial system, both domestic and international, is built to protect the corrupt cabal that is robbing the country of its resources and livelihood. The only solution is widespread systemic disruption (revolution).

Anonymous said...


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