West Hinders Return of Abacha`s Stolen Money. Who is “Fantastically Corrupt?“

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If Nigeria does not take a very strong stand against the USA, the country may soon lose more than $550 million recovered from the Abacha’s family; stolen money, which is hidden in the USA. The United States and the Western countries are reluctant to return the stolen money back to the countries of origin.   Prof. Itse Sagay, chairman Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has said.

Like the USA, other western countries, including Switzerland have been unnecessarily putting a stumbling block towards sending back the stolen monies many corrupt leaders hide in the West. This is a sad as well as interesting development, which must be addressed urgently-   and if necessary, forcefully.

When the former British Prime Minister David Cameron was caught diplomatically pants down on tape last year, telling the Queen of England ahead of the anti-corruption summit organized by the UK Government, that Nigeria and Afghanistan – two countries, scheduled to attend the conference the following day ““ were “fantastically corrupt,“ there was a big bag of uproar around the world. Yes, uproar, not necessarily because many doubted the truth behind Oga Cameroon`s leaked statement. No, not really. The shock was more about the undiplomatic nature of the statement and perhaps the leak itself. The bone of contention, was then not about the word “corrupt“ nor “fantastically,“ which is just synonymous with awfully, highly, badly, blisteringly. So, what was the ballyhoo all about?

To many, Nigeria is a corrupt country. So why the whole hullabaloo, if someone says it ““ openly or behind the camera? Not that it really matters; however, to some, the issue was not about whether Former Prime Minister David Cameroon made the “fantastically corrupt“ statement undiplomatically or otherwise. No, the issue here was more or less about honesty, hypocrisy and morality.

More often than not, the discourse is more or less about the “fantastically corrupt“ Africa, defined by the seemingly incorrigibly correct West. The West sets the standard, chooses the discourse and defines the meaning. On the other hand, the third world countries fall into line. How many of us, especially, those in the Western countries see it the same way? I wonder. Undeniably, many of our African leaders greedily steal public funds and stupidly bank them in the Western countries. Put in another word, the “fantastically corrupt“ African leaders steal billions from the public coffer and hide them in various banks in the Western countries. While condemning and “defining“ these African leaders as “fantastically corrupt“ what does one call those western countries, who accept and keep those “fantastically”stolen billions in various bank accounts in their countries? “Fantastically honest“ Or better still, “fantastically smart bankers,“ perhaps? You know better.

Legally, it is expected that any country, including the USA and Switzerland, harbouring the stolen billions from Africa must, in line with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), return them to their originated countries. Apart from the Article 3 of UNCAC, which clearly stipulates that “States Parties are obligated to afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in ensuring that recovered assets are returned on liberal terms as much as possible,” morally ““ and legally – speaking, if you know that something is stolen and you keep it with you, you are equally a criminal. So with this in mind, who is “fantastically corrupt“? A seemingly corrupt leader who stole money or self-proclaimed moral saint, who kept the same stolen money he once condemned and refused to give it back to the original owner (country) and instead continued using the stolen money to enrich and develop himself and family? You tell me!

The USA and its western hypocrites are sitting behind billions stolen from Africa, which is banked in the West. These monies have been officially declared “stolen funds“ by their originated countries, yet for years, these western “fantastically smart bankers“ are ingloriously delaying the repatriation of the funds, using the same “ill-gotten“ (apologies, the West and semantics) money to develop their countries, citing technicalities as their excuse for not returning the money. Again, how do we define a thief or corruption?

Ironically, morality is the worst obstacle in the human relationship. When you see yourself as a moral apostle and others as sinners, and for that matter, less worthy or honest than you, it becomes the greatest problem and pollution to a harmonious interpersonal relationship. You will mostly likely always look down on your opponent, whom you expect to “learn“ from you. Basically, you use your assumed moral superiority as a judgmental standard against your opponent and on which he is judged and found wanting. Who defines the concept is, of course, you and how “morality“ is defined becomes somehow irrelevant. When a westerner comes to Africa, he is called a tourist; when he starts working in Africa, his nomenclature and indeed identity changes to an expatriate/expert. However, when an African goes to the West he is labelled an immigrant (not a tourist). When he does the same job like his Western counterpart, he is labelled an immigrant worker (definitely not an expert or expatriate). While the westerner who works in Africa does so to “develop“ the country / continent (regardless the level of his knowledge, education and the fact that he is paid much, most often, more than his African counterparts), the African who works in the West does so to “earn money“ (don`t worry about the high qualifications and expert knowledge of this African). Who defines the language and identity here?

When David Cameroon made his infamous “fantastically corrupt“ statement, many were expecting President Buhari of Nigeria to react angrily. He never did. Instead, his reaction was more or less sarcastic as it was straight to the point: yes, Nigeria could be “fantastically corrupt“ but Buhari would be happy if the UK could release all the stolen loot in its custody. Would you have expected a better answer?

Assuming that an average Nigerian (and by extension, African) is “fantastically corrupt,“ as such, a criminal, as a person who keeps known stolen funds, David Cameroon (and the West as a whole) is equally “fantastically a criminal.“ Does it make any sense for the Western countries to beat their arrogant chest that they give Africa billions of dollars in aid when they know that more than half of that money would end us coming back to the West through illegal ways? Is it not morally better that the West should keep their aid and instead return back the billions of dollars stolen from Africa but banks in the West? If the USA and the rest of the west, the world moral apostles, see anything wrong with this simple moral proposal, then one wonders who is indeed “fantastically more corrupt“ and morally bankrupt ““ Africa or the West!