To many in the Western world, Africa is synonymous with chronic corruption, insatiable greed, woeful economic mismanagement, endless war, gross inefficiency….(are you still counting?). But hardly does one talk about the brutal faceless hypocrisy of the West. Nor does the double standard acts of the Western world is mentioned in relation to the corruption of the African leaders.
Sometime last year, David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister was caught on the video describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt” in a conversation with the Queen of England. Mr. Cameron was discussing the anti-corruption summit taking place in May last year in London, with the Queen, in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Speaker John Bercow.
“We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain… Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world,” David Cameron was overheard saying.
Really? Good enough, Archbishop of Canterbury quickly came to President Buhari’s rescue, insisting that the president of Nigeria “is not corrupt.” Clearly, it is not my intention to debate whether President Buhari and other African presidents are corrupt. That would require one to first define what the word “corruption” is. Such a debate would take centuries to conclude, after all, Africa is a continent, where even a woman with four children could still insist that she is still a virgin. Worse still, many of African leaders who plundered and squandered their State resources are still fearlessly walking around free and flamboyantly, simply because they have been given a clean bill by the same corrupt African courts, which are supposed to hunt and bring them to justice. That makes it hard to say what “corruption” is. I, therefore, leave the meaning of the word “corruption” to the legal pundits to interpret. Regardless your definition of corruption, or how determined and fearless the African courts are in convicting the corrupt individuals, at least, we all agree on one thing: that taking what does not belong to you is stealing. Right? With this in mind, one could confidently say that many African leaders are blatantly corrupt. The handwriting is boldly written everywhere on the wall. Those massive houses, a fleet of cars, billions in foreign and local accounts belonging to the African leaders, family members and other cronies, hardly justify the meager official salaries of the African leaders. Do they?
Then comes the billions from the West, in “generous” donations to Africa. What of billions of “investments” from the western world in Africa? These billions are meant for education, creating jobs and providing better health services, infrastructures, and other social services in Africa. From the statistics available, it is believed that Africa receives yearly, $30 billion in aid from the West. $30 billion? Oh yes. Yearly! Clearly, there is no significant sign in Africa that the billions are used judiciously. Definitely, no one needs a soothsayer or TB Joshua to know that this money meant for the welfare of an average Africa ends up in the private accounts of our so-called leaders and their sycophants.
As usual, the Western countries have been critical of African leaders, whom they accuse of blatant corruption. This is the beginning of the Western hypocrisy. However, before you point that accusing finger at the West, they would tell you they have enough evidence to back up their claims. Yes, they do!. But that hardly exonerates them from hypocrisy.
Recently, a French court gave the 48-year son of Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang a three-month suspended jail sentence and a suspended fine of $30 million for corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, and breach of trust. Suspended what? Sentences. But hold on a bit. Sometime in 2011, French investigators also raided the Teodorin Obiang’s Paris residence and seized his luxurious properties including expensive Ferraris, a Rolls-Royce, Bugattis, Phantom, and other cars. They also seized the Obiang’s 4,000m² property, worth 107 million euros. Equally, properties belonging to other African leaders such as the families of late Gabonese leader Omar Bongo, the Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso are being targeted. Bravo! Applause for the West! But what of the billions belonging to the Abachas, Mobutus, Mubaraks, Iboris, Alison-Maduekes (help me continue counting till your mouth starts paining you) stashed in the foreign accounts? The list is long and endless. Is the Western world doing enough? Many have accused the West of, in fact, playing a lip service as well as encouraging corruption. It makes one wonder why the corrupt African leaders would rather choose to stash their ill-gotten money in the Western banks if they really believed their billions were not safe. Think logically, my sisters and brothers.
This brings us back to the meaning of corruption. Agreed, African leaders are corrupt in the sense that they take what does not belong to them – if one would like to sound euphemistically. Using the same yardstick, would it be right to say that the West is not only equally guilty of corruption, it is in fact, a club made up of a bunch of hypocrites? If the West heartily cares about Africa and vehemently condemns the ill-gotten money from African leaders, meant for the welfare of poor Africans, can one explain why the same West still accepts the stolen monies from Africa and happily bank them in their Western banks? Help me out here! Is this not hypocrisy to the highest order? Worse still, by keeping quiet and using the same corrupt money, which has effectively deprived poor Africans of their basic needs, the West is morally bankrupt and absolutely immoral Apostles, contrarily to what they indeed present themselves to be. Nor is the West in the right position to condemn African leaders without exposing its own hypocrisy.
While the West can sing its holier-than-holy song, beat its chest of moral authority and present her Father – Christmas credentials to the world, when it comes to corruption in Africa, yet evidence available shows that out of the yearly, $30 billion in aid from the West to Africa, it is estimated that $192 billion ($46.3 billion in multinational profits, $35.3 billion in illicit financial deals, $17 billion in illegal logging, $21 billion in debt repayment,, 36 billion as a result of the climate change caused by the industrialized western world, $1.3 billion in illegal fishing, $6 billion from skilled workers leaving Africa) also leaves Africa to the western world. That is a clear $162 billion deficit! Meaning: the West steals at least $162 billion yearly from Africa, while Africa gets just $30 billion from the West every year. Of course, I am not good in Mathematics, so I would not dig further into those frightening figures. Regardless, the estimated $192 billion excludes the stolen billions belonging to African leaders, which are effortlessly banks in the various banks in the West.
While David Cameron, the former British Prime Minister would like to tell anyone who cares to listen how “fantastically corrupt” African leaders are, he hardly tells his audience how much stolen billions from African leaders are being safely kept in various banks in his country, Britain. Nor does he tell the world how much jobs and infrastructures, these fastidiously stolen billions from Africa have created – and do create – in the Britain. The fact remains that none (I repeat none) of these Western countries is morally interested in a serious prevention the ill-gotten money from entering their shores. Why? Because the West hypocritically benefits enormously from the stolen money. The ill-gotten wealth from Africa ends up in the West, who ironically borrow it back to Africans with huge interests and profits. Can African leaders be more gullible! Interestingly, our Western moral apostles never report these monies kept in their countries until they are exposed. It is only after the exposure that the West would start preaching hypocritical morality. With the errant exposure of the West’s insincerity, even when the stolen money is painfully traced to the banks in their countries, they never send the ill-gotten money unconditionally back to the rightful owner countries. Far from that. Instead, the Western Lords take centuries to return the stolen money (and thereby making use of it for long), albeit with conditions. In all the cases, the thieves in suits would demand that the poor African countries, the real owners of the stolen money, pay “fees” (yes, the owners of money pay fees to someone who has collaborated in stealing the owners’ money!) to the West before the money is repatriated back to Africa. Welcome to the “international law,” made by the West for the West. Conditionally, if Africans want to enter into any kind of partnership with the West, they must obey these western laid down “law.”
We see the same “law” and hypocrisy in the International trade. African and other third world countries supply raw materials – cocoa, palm oil, coffee, gold, etc – to the West, who fixes the incredibly imbalance and unfavourable “international prices” for these raw materials, which the West buys from the third world at miserable prices. That doesn’t end the hypocrisy of the West. After manipulating the “international trade prices” in their favour, the Western world exports to the poorer countries finished products, made from the same raw materials from the third world countries. Furthermore, the West forces the poor Countries to buy the same finished products from them, this time at much higher prices than what the West pays for the raw materials from the third world. Honest “international trade” Isn’t it?
If the west wants to show their honesty and commitment to eradicating corruption in Africa, Western leaders must take the first step. They could start by making sure their countries are no more havens for stolen African money and goods. Furthermore, the West must eradicate the unfair trade deals and debt crises, put a stop to the plundering of African resources and tax evasion by multinational companies in Africa, tackling climate change, which is caused by the pollution from the western countries.
One could go on and blame the West’s double standard for the African woes, but isn’t fair enough to ask why African leaders allow the West to have their ways? Ironically, the fact that the West is able to manipulate Africa and other third world countries shows how “united” the West is in pursuance of her common selfish agenda. If that “selfish agenda” has made the West what it is today in terms of development, is it a taboo to insist that African leaders should follow the selfish hypocrisy of the West – as far as it would lead to good benefits of the citizen? Alas, African leaders are far from being honest, dedicated, patriotic or united in the effort to address the common issues and problems facing their people.
Until African leaders try to copy from the West and present a common stand aimed at bringing a solution to the social challenges facing Africa, they will remain slaves to the manipulative power and control of the West – and the status quo is maintained. A vicious circle, for that matter.