By Austin Aneke
They steal so much that no matter how lavish their life styles within the country become, they can only use a fraction of their loot in their life time. Most times their loots are hidden in foreign bank accounts in tax heavens, especially Switzerland. Their stealing spree creates huge holes in the development process at home; hence HOME is unstable and unsafe to keep stolen funds. Home may explode at any minute.
Nevertheless, at the commencement of the inevitable trouble at home; the foreign hosts of their looted funds also commence their black mail. “Sorry you can’t reach the funds until we clarify certain issues”. The foreign host tax heavens- ensure that the funds are seized, forfeited and ring fenced. The looter gets ill and dies.
The US government recently froze about $483.00 million stolen by former Nigerian dictator – Sanni Abacha, in largest kleptocracy forfeiture action ever brought in the US. If you wish to know; the $483.00 million dollars, is in addition to the £500- $700 million dollars previously recovered from the same culprit by the Nigeria government. These were monies he never used, saw, reached, and as we now know- accessed.
So lets get it right.
Africa/Nigeria is not a tax heaven for depositing stolen foreign/local resources, because the regimes over time, have made it unsafe. However, Africans/Nigerians steal the funds and deposit them into foreign fortes because “HOME” is not safe. Africans/Nigerians lose the funds because the foreign thieves hosting the funds, blackmail their families and Nigeria- at their death, coup, or insurrection. The ultimate loser is the ordinary African/Nigerian in the street.
So when will African/Nigerian leaders stop stealing the funds they cannot use, reach, access, or touch; which are eventually lost to handlers of stolen goods, abroad. When will African/Nigerian leaders start copying Nelson Mandela and stop behaving in ways that endear them to no one? When will they start realising that the public at home and their foreign deposit countries loathe them? The foreign countries do not like them, but love what hey bring to them (stolen money), at the expense of their own people (Africans/Nigerians).
Is it not phony when you hear that Dangote is the richest man in Africa/Nigeria? He may be the richest business man, but he is clearly not the richest man in Africa or Nigeria. The richest men in Africa/Nigeria can be found in ex -ministers/Presidents, Prime Ministers, Governors. Nevertheless and unfortunately Forbes magazine cannot categorise them as richest, because first they know that their funds were stolen, and second- they are aware that they don’t even have access to their funds nor control them. Furthermore, because these funds running into billions are stolen and hidden, groups like Forbes find it difficult to categorise, classify, or measure their wealth. The recent missing $20 billion dollars in Nigeria is a case in point. This is just unaccounted funds just for about one financial year. Where do you think the money has gone? Mobutu is believed to have lost about £4 billion dollars of his country’s resources in Swiss Fortes.
“Kleptocracy is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often with pretence of honest service. This type of government corruption is often achieved by the embezzlement of state funds”.
While the stealing continues, the primary schools are in shambles, there is no primary health care, the Universities are shot, poor roads are constructed, if at all, and there is no pipe borne water. The health systems remain so rotten that almost all the Kleptocrats pride themselves in accessing health facilities abroad.
Past and present African/Nigerian politicians compete on who builds the best marble houses, with looted funds, - for personal use, and on hill tops. They also compete on who is rated as having looted more billions of dollars, pounds and naira. And you know what; the people hail them in these unholy competitions. The people will say that “he/she is doing well”. “He just built a personal marble house after just 6 months in office”.
The culture of stealing public funds in Africa/Nigeria is alarming. African legislative houses are houses of thieves. Unintelligible gangsters rule Africa/Nigeria. African political officials are voted in- NOT to do well, but to help to dismember the treasuries.
So, when will African/Nigerian leaders start to realise the vanity of their stealing spree? When will they begin to realise that the deaths of African presidents Zenawi of Ethiopia, John of Ghana, and Bingu Mutharika of Malawi, all in one year, are enough signs to prompt them to reflect and realise the vanity of their stealing spree? When will they begin to realise that African/Nigerian people are the only losers in the stealing debacle? When will African/Nigerian people stop cheering their kleptocrats?
When will African/Nigerian politicians start returning their loots before they are lost to greedy western banks and countries? Who will introduce an African/Nigerian money return initiative to help save the stolen funds stashed in Switzerland and its ilk? When will the world commence prosecuting African/Nigerian politicians for economic terrorism against their people?
Austin Aneke is the author of Technology and Corruption and founder of www.june12post.com