Panama papers: “fantastically corrupt” Nigeria’s tiny minority and the Plight of the Masses

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Haruna Mohammed Salisu

It has been established long overdue that class struggle between freemen and slaves, patrician and plebian, baron and serf, nobility and bourgeoisie, bourgeoisie and proletariat, exploiters and the exploited had lingered for centuries of human existence. It has defined the historical forces that made up human society, which German Philosopher Karl Marx regarded as “a structurally integrated whole”—that a malfunction in one system affects all other systems.

Marx’s postulations on “what is produced, how it is produced and how it is exchanged” determine the difference in people’s wealth, power, social status and consequently defines where they belong. Man’s inhumanity to man, as evident in the series of wars since human record, and man’s inhumanity to nature as evident in climate change resulting from gas emission, has defined and redefined his quest  to unmask wealth, power and control his fellows.

This quest whether legitimately pursued or illegitimately struggled for, has made man the most dangerous creation, causing damage to himself and other objects.

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The recent revelations from the Panama papers have unraveled how the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax from around the world, to continue to evade tax, emasculate the poor and become richer against all odds. Unmindful of all the conspiracy theories surrounding these revelations, the Panama papers have no doubt unearthed one of the world’s biggest secrets, exposing influential business moguls and politicians, reaffirming a common goal among these set of individuals—to continue to milk the poor, whisked away their God’s given wealth, subject them to more hardship, destitution and servitude throughout their stay in this ephemeral world.

Nigeria , Africa’s most populous country had its sons and daughters involved in the Panama papers. It is no surprise; anyone with a fair knowledge of the country will be less bothered about the involvement of its business tycoons and political power brokers in the unprecedented revelations in the Panama papers.

So far, 110 Nigerians including Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote had his hands looming in the scam, according to the country’s online newspaper PREMIUM TIMES. The paper also reported that the country’s fourth citizen, President of the senate Mr. Bukola Saraki who is also facing corruption charges in the country’s Court of Conduct Tribunal for asset declaration is also glaring in the papers.

The leaked document of the Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonsecca also houses influential Nigerians such as David Mark, Former President of the senate now serving law maker, Theophilus Danjuma, a retired General and Former Defense Minister, James Ibori, Former Governor in the country’s southern Delta state who is currently serving a jail term in London on charges bothering money laundering among others.

“Fantastically Corrupt” Nigerians

British Prime Minister’s “unguarded comments” in a conversation with the Queen Elizabeth referring to Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt” nations ahead of the anti-corruption summit is no surprise in view of the ongoing revelations in the Panama papers and the series of arrests made by the EFCC in recent times.

Whether Britain itself is corrupt and whether Mr. Cameron owes Nigerians an apology is entirely a different argument that someone should be less bothered about when one compared such with the level of corruption in the country. The institutional corruption and the level of impunity among high profile business and political class in the country is indeed “fantastically corrupt” literarily as it is figuratively.

The tiny minority and the plight of the masses

The leaked document in the Panama papers has exposed the gravity of corruption in a country that has already soiled its name as the most corrupt black nation on earth, with its tiny minority business and political class getting richer and its impoverished majority getting poorer.

The ongoing revelations in the country’s arms deal is clear testimony. With Boko Haram killings on the rise, Militants blowing up oil pipelines in the Niger Delta region, the country’s former National Security Adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Sambo Dasuki was unmindful—he was bothered on how his boss could retain power. He diverted funds meant for the poorly equipped Army to garner momentum to the political will of his boss.

The alienated poor Nigerians are powerless, they feel more isolated by the seemingly merciless looters, the economic and social institutions are beyond their control and consequently, those institutions are always seen by many as oppressive. Millions of Nigerians are impoverished amid exorbitant wealth for the few; the minority rich forced the poor majority to accept lower wages or worse, become unemployed, more demoralized, dehumanized and pauperized.

Stemming the tide against corruption

President Muhammadu Buhari is already “stepping on big toes” to stem the tide against corruption and restore its image before the international community. The country’s anti corruption agency, The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is consolidating the President’s move and so far, it has grilled many officials of past governments, some of them already in Courts on allegations relating to looted money.

But many analysts within and outside the country believed the President is “left alone” in the fight against corruption and some officials in his government were alleged to be involved in one form of corruption or the other during previous administrations.

How far could President Buhari go in the fight against corruption? What are the prevailing factors that could aid the President in this move? Could he sustain the confidence of world Leaders in this move especially with Cameron’s “fantastically corrupt” comments? What other internal or external factors that could help or impede his quest to restore the image of the country and intensify the fight against corruption? These are some of the questions President Buhari may likely answer during the international anti-corruption summit schedule to hold in London tomorrow.

And unless these questions are answered followed by a strong commitment from the Nigerian officials, the Country will remain “fantastically corrupt” for quite a long time.

Haruna Mohammed Salisu writes from Bauchi. He can be reached at 08063180608, [email protected] or @haruna_babale


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