Corruption As An Excuse for Underdevelopment
Earlier today I made an excerpt from a book I'm reading with some of my friends showing some money laundering activities by relatives of former Mexican president, Carlos Gortari. It piqued the interest of my brother, Yusuf and he did some googling. He came back saying, in his words,
"Tosin Adeoti, Politicians and Narco in Mexico have Nexus. We can say corruption in Mexico is at the heart of everything.. But one thing I uniquely notice is that, that hasn't stopped the economic development of Mexico... As well as infrastructural development.. In most cities they have world class infrastructures that can rival the best in the world.. what is the reason for this? Tosin, can you explain this.. Not that they are top there but they are sizeably better than Africans with similar tragedies."
I have often decried my fellow countrymen's obsession with fighting corruption. As anyone who is reading the book I referenced earlier knows, corruption is everywhere in the world. France. Germany. Italy. Switzerland. Let's not even talk about the United States.
But like I said to him, one of the differences between these countries and ours is what is done with the loots. While most corruption cases in other countries find out the loots are spent in running businesses in their respective countries, ours are either locked up in foreign accounts or at home in sit-tight real estate deals.
And this is why it's palpitating for me to see the occasional hues and cries about recovered loots under the Muhammadu Buhari regime.
It's a cop-out. Apart from the fact that the administration has not shown us what has been done with the much-celebrated recovered loots, It's proven to be a huge distraction that should not be taken seriously.
People, China pulled 680m people out of poverty between 1981–2010, and reduced its extreme-poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to less than 10% now. They achieved this through deliberate industrial and economic policy and recognition of land rights. China achieved all this while still having RAMPANT corruption.
The truth is that compared to Chinese officials, most Nigerian politicians and thieves are still 'learners'.
General Sani Abacha is known as the greatest looter in our history. Experts estimate his loot to be around $4.3billion, and they agree it can't be more than $7 billion. No Nigerian thief even comes close to this figure.
As strict as the capital controls in China are, corrupt officials were still able to smuggle 800bn yuan (£80bn) out of the country between the mid-1990s and 2008. The railway ministry's former chief engineer Zhang Shuguang stole so much that out of his huge loots, he was still able to stash $2.8bn of assets in just the US and Switzerland alone. This was a man whose salary was $350/month.
He is not an outlier. There have been many of such cases. Every new year, anti-corruption drives are upped yet more and more cases are revealed. During the #PanamaPapers scandal in 2016, eight members of China’s Communist party elite were indicted. The Chinese First family was also indicted. Yet development in China is on the ascendency.
The sum total of all our looters have taken for themselves won't get close to the £80billion figure looted by the Chinese. Now, that £80billion was at 2010. It has since skyrocketed. Again, remember the #PanamaPaper expose was in 2016.
For perspective, at the period when Chinese biggest heist was taking place, its GDP was around a paltry $400bn. Nigeria's is around $500bn right now.
China has had some really nasty looters who excelled in beating the system. Because of the closed nature of China to Western media and accurate news dissemination to its citizens, it's difficult to accurately ascertain what really goes on in the CPC, but even at that, several sources point to China as one of the most corrupt countries on the planet. In January 2017, BusinessInsider reported a study by the Risk Advisory Group showing that you are most likely to encounter corruption doing business in China than any where else in the world.
It goes to show that at the height of their development efforts, China was arguably the most corrupt country on earth.
My point: Don't fall for the gimmick that President Buhari is unable to do much about the battered economy because of these loots. If you fall for it, it's on you!
A report this morning says palliative funds during this COVID-19 era will not be given to anyone who has more than N5000 in his/her account. Did corruption cause this out-of-touch stance too?
A rudderless and incompetent leadership is a rudderless and incompetent leadership. Corruption has nothing to do with it.
For more incisive analysis and news of issues in Nigeria and around the world, subscribe to Freshly Presssed.