The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of over 400 civic organizations in Nigeria notes with a sense of irony the comment by British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron describing Nigeria as a fantastically corrupt country. While the withering effect of corruption on progress in Nigeria has been globally acknowledged and documented, the spotlight must now be placed on countries acting as receivers of stolen monies from Nigeria. Our position is that the looters in Nigeria and corrupt elements in West helping to stash illicit monies in their banking systems are equally culpable. The moral opprobrium, and the necessary global action to stop these illicit financial flows, must focus on countries of origin of corrupt monies, as well as recipient countries.
Beyond the narrative of endemic corruption in Nigeria therefore, a much more definite burden must be placed on countries like Britain, and their offshore tax havens that have served as safe destinations for ill-gotten wealth from Nigeria. TMG therefore calls on the government of Western nations to immediately expedite and fast track action for the repatriation of all Nigerian monies currently yielding layers of interest in bank vaults in their banking systems. It is morally reprehensible to keep rehashing already known stories about corruption in Nigeria, while overlooking conditions in the West, which provide incentives for corrupt Nigerians to continue the plunder of the Nigerian treasury. TMG makes bold to state that the current difficulties being encountered by the present Nigerian leadership in the quest to repatriate looted funds gives the impression that countries like Britain are not sincere about the global anti-graft war. It therefore appears that Britain is keen to continue the kind of exploitative relationship reminiscent of the colonial era, when the resources of the Nigerian people were mercilessly expropriated to serve the interest of the metropole.
It is also pertinent to note that narrative of corruption in Nigeria is changing substantially. While there are still many institutional impediments to an effective fight against corruption, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has shown a firm resolve to bring looters and other corrupt elements to book. Nigeria and the international community must recognize this modest progress that has been recorded in the last one year, and build on it. Importantly, one way for the West to help stem graft and encourage a greater momentum in the anti-corruption war, is to ensure all monies belonging to the Nigerian people in foreign vaults in countries like Britain, are speedily returned to be used to make life better for the long suffering citizens. These countries cannot be keeping the stolen wealth from Nigeria, while pretending to be giving Nigeria periodic “international aid.”
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria; corruption must be fought, both at home and abroad!
Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi: Chairman, TMG