Sunday, June 26, 2005

The report in the UK's Daily Telegraph that Nigeria's past rulers stole or misused £220 billion is a most interesting counter-point in the run-up to Live8, Sir Bob Geldof's latest attempt to embarass the ruling classes into helping Africa's citizens. The sum represents 300 years aid to Africa.

Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, set up three years ago, said that £220 billion was "squandered" between independence from Britain in 1960 and the return of civilian rule in 1999.

The extent of the pillage of the resources of Nigeria by their own is breathtaking - it would appear that only $500Million has been traced. No wonder the G8 have not included Nigeria in the debt-forgiveness group. Nigeria should be self-sufficient and the engine room for the rest of Africa.

Unless and until the world stands against corruption (particularly on this scale) any Marshall Plan for Africa will be an abject failure - throwing (more) good money after bad.

Geldof, Bono and co should use their links to demand higher levels of Governance, and transparency in return for debt relief. Debt relief is not the solution. If corruption is not rooted out, poverty will not be eliminated from the African continent (or elsewhere) for that matter. The problems are actually with the donees, not the donors.

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