…Of Africa’s Looted Funds and Western Hypocrisy

Victor Kekereekun
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Africa is not poor. While many people in African countries live in poverty, the continent has considerable wealth. I mean Africa is rich in mineral wealth, skilled workers and biodiversity. Yes, its people should thrive, its economy ought to prosper – yet, many people living in Africa’s 54 countries remain trapped in poverty, while much of the funds from the realisation of the continent’s wealth is stashed outside of it – thanks but no thanks to African leaders.

Many Western banks hold within them, stolen national funds by African leaders who continually breakdown existing governance structures to loot funds and suit their own nefarious purposes- doing nothing to improve the welfare of their people who are very poor, while they and their cronies live in affluence. However, the interesting thing here, is the fact that the Western world thrusts open arms to these corrupt African leaders, yet they persistently label Africa poor. Blatant display of hypocrisy, you’d call this, isn’t it?

 Dog and bone – or Africa and corruption
Needless to say, corruption in Africa has been widely articulated and the fight against it seems to be a fleeting illusion. Few leaders who have decided to actively tackle it – beyond just talking about tackling it – have publicly admitted that the task is a lot harder than they expected.

Corruption is prevalent throughout the continent. Tied to this is the fact that anti-corruption efforts fail because corruption has penetrated deep into our lands – and of course our dishonest and unaccountable leaders have not repented yet. Many have co-opted democratic systems or simply make up the rules as they go along to stay in power. Behind it all lies an insatiable appetite for money, and the realisation that power can deliver untold wealth.

The truth is, Africa is home to despots and sit-in presidents who either abuse their power or allow abuses to be perpetrated. Countries are run like family property and political dynasties are created by fathers passing power to sons. Checks and balances are weak, and the citizens’ welfare is not taken serious, culminating in low accountability which further deteriorates leadership and strengthens corruption.

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Hypocrisy uncovered: Europe as corrupt as Africa – or birds of a feather
Quite often when you read news, listen to radio or watch television by Western world, you will be bombarded with how poor and corrupt Africans are. However, you will never watch, read or hear anything in these media outlets on the role played by Western banking institutions; property development and estate companies; technology corporations; oil and mining cartels; defense and engineering companies; and Western political and business elite in promoting corruption in Africa.

The media in the West tend to ignore the role of Western banking institutions for many reasons. They would rather show the poverty level in Africa but refuse to show the role play by Western institutions as there is always an embarrassing story or a scandal that undermines their own credibility as the watchdog. It is not uncommon to see poverty stricken Africans being shown in documentaries, movies, and television screens in the West but these same documentaries fail to show the involvement of Western capitalist institutions in fanning the poverty.

Although corruption involves a giver and a recipient, it is always the taker who is reported in the media.  African leaders find comfort in stashing our collective funds in Western banks because of the existence of favouring conditions as can be seen in most Western countries with their banking secrecy laws. So far the conditions are in their favour, they turn a blind eye to the roots the funds spring from, yet they never stop vociferating Africa as the most corrupt on planet.

Even though Western banks act as safe havens for looted funds, very little attention is received from the Western media to expose them. No effort has been made by the political elite in Europe and America to force the banks to return these stolen monies because they are often the shareholders and beneficiaries of the profits made by these banks. They have no agenda to combat corruption as that would mean no fat dividends for them and no cheap credits for their citizens.

The banks in Europe and America, alleged to have aided and provided sanctuary for Nigeria’s one-time Head of State Sani Abacha’s $4 billion stolen funds, which are in: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, ANZ, London Branch; Bank Len, Zurich; Bankers Trust Company, London; Bankers Trust Company, Frankfurt; Bankers Trust Company, New York; Banque Barring Brothers, Geneva; Bank in Liechtenstein A.G Vaduz; Barclays Bank, New York; Barclays Bank, London, The truth is, the list is endless – and only God knows how much of the alleged Abacha´s loot still remains in these banks. We did not hear anything about these banks in the Western media and how they purportedly helped Abacha to loot Nigeria’s resources until his death in 1998.

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Time to rethink – or African leaders should imbibe some virtue
Lately, some African leaders have persistently been requesting for Africa’s looted funds in Western vaults. Nigeria’s Mohammadu Buhari has shown on a number of occasions, Nigeria’s desire to recover Abacha’s loot.

Meawhile in Congo, Since the Joseph Kabila regime has failed to request for the repatriation of the over $10 billion kept in Zurich banks by the late Mobutu Sese Seko, the Swiss government is planning to return the looted wealth to the family of the former dictator and not to the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unjust, isn’t?

While few Anti-corruption-driven African leaders stand on their toes to recover looted funds from Western world, it is high time the corrupt ones had a rethink and take their citizens as the centre of their investment instead of indirectly improving the Western world economy. Simply put, the day African leaders learn to be virtuous is the day Western world will stop seeing us as being poor.

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