In what might be described as a bombastic diplomatic blunder, the UK Prime Minister has described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt.“ He made the statement at the Buckingham Palace during an event to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, which was attended by political leaders and other public figures. David Cameron described Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt” in a conversation with the Queen while talking about the upcoming anti-corruption summit scheduled in London this week.
“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,” Cameron said, perhaps not knowing that he was overheard.
Supporting the Prime Minister`s statement, the UK Speaker of the House, John Bercow added undiplomatically: “They are coming at their own expense, one assumes?”
However, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who equally shared the conversation with the Prime Minister and the Queen intervened and insisted that the newly elected President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is not corrupt.
“But this particular president is not corrupt… he’s trying very hard.” The Archbishop corrected.
Reacting to the statement of the UK Prime Minister, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who won the country`s election on the anti-corruption ticket said he was deeply “shocked and embarrassed” by the statement. While a senior Afghan official described the label as “unfair.”.
But Prime Minister, Cameron was not the only official caught with his pants down of recent. At a garden party later, hosted by the Queen on Tuesday, the Queen herself was caught on camera making unguarded comments about the Chinese government being rude to Britain`s ambassador to China during President Xi’s state visit last year
Definitely, both the statement of Mr Cameron and the timing are diplomatically handicap for him. To describe countries as “fantastically corrupt“some hours before their leaders visit Britain is not only offensive, it reveals the perception of the UK Prime Minister towards the countries in question. However, although undiplomatic Mr Cameron`s description might be, one might argue that the statement is not entirely wrong. .
According to the Transparency International’s 2015 corruption perception index, both Nigeria and Afghanistan were ranked amongst the most corrupt countries in the world. While Afghanistan was ranked at 167, ahead of only Somalia and North Korea, Nigeria occupied the 136th position. With this in mind, one could excuse David Cameron for those unguarded statements. However, having in mind that the UK has been one of the havens for the Nigerian stolen money ““ and with the UK banks actively and shrewdly conniving with corrupt Nigerian officials to bank the stolen money in the UK – one might begin to doubt David Cameron`s moral apostle stand.
All said, the question is: Is the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron morally right to describe Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt,“ bearing in mind that his country actively banks and strongly benefits from billions of the Nigerian stolen money?