Thursday, August 18, 2005

Corruption Cleanup Imminent in Nigeria?

The gist of this post is anchored in the fable narrated below thusly:

“Three students John, Chang and Mohammed met and became friends at Harvard in the early seventies. John was from an influential Boston family, Chang was the son of a wealthy Chinese business mogul, and Mohammed was just a Nigerian army lieutenant. Before they left Harvard, they agreed to have a reunion every 5 years at their respective bases.

The first reunion was at Boston (USA) with John, now a city mayor. The John showed them an ongoing construction of a subway system, he said to them in confidence:

"My office is coordinating this project… 2% of the cost goes to my campaign fund, vacation home and children college fund."

The next reunion was with Chang in Beijing (China), now a top shot of the communist party. Chang showed his friends a massive construction of what seems like a seaport. He said:

"I got 20% off the top to make the approvals happen for these construction".

The next reunion was 15 years later in Lagos (Nigeria). Mohammed, now a General and the military head of state of Nigeria, started talking about his accomplishments:

"$350 million spent on an agro-allied industry that will manufacture fertilizers and tractors; $200 million earmarked for an hydroelectric dam project, will provide electricity for my people; $850 billion spent building an oil refinery to produce refined petroleum products; and $2.3 billion invested in a steel mill to produce steel needed to manufacture heavy machinery and equipment, etc."

John and Chang were impressed and asked to see some of the projects.

Mohammed agreed and took them on a helicopter ride, after a short while he pointed towards one of the windows of the helicopter, “they are all there”, he said with a grin. His two colleagues rushed to the window full of anticipation, but all they saw was an area with thick forest with some empty stretches of land. They asked, "Where are they, Mohammed? There is nothing here!" Mohammed said with a smile:

“100% all to me!"
Agreed, the characters are fictitious, but the substance of the fable is as real as day and night. Moreover, there are and were many lesser Mohammeds that manned various aspects of the enterprise called Nigeria since 1960, the year of independence from the British.

At the moment, it seems the game may be over for some “Nigerian Mohammeds” because a News report has it that American authorities have forwarded to Abuja a dossier on several top Nigerian government officials and prominent individuals who allegedly operate foreign accounts and own property in the United States. The document was compiled by U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), immigration officials and banking regulators.

The EFCC is said to be finalizing its own probe to corroborate the content of the dossier before presenting it to the Presidency. This development formed the basis of the President’s address during the first executive session of the EFCC in Abuja where he stated:
"...Corruption, the greatest single bane of our society today, will be tackled head-on at all levels. Corruption is incipient in all human societies and in most human activities. But it must not be condoned. No society can achieve anything near its full potential if it allows corruption to become the full-blown cancer it has become in Nigeria…There will be no sacred cows, nobody, no matter who and where, will be allowed to get away with the breach of the law or the perpetration of corruption and evil. Under the administration, therefore, all the rules and regulations designed to help honesty and transparency in dealings with government will be restored and enforced…"
Well said Mr. President, but what about those that own foreign accounts and properties in the other continents? Didn’t the Paris club provide a list too? The eye of the world is on Nigeria, and it is my hope that this exercise is implemented fairly and thoroughly. Time will tell.