Is Britain Still Qualified to Call Nigeria “Fantastically Corrupt”?

Is Britain Still Qualified to Call Nigeria “Fantastically Corrupt”?
January 28, 2022 admin

With a Prime Minister under police investigation and £4.3bn of COVID-19 fraud, can Britain continue to call Nigeria “fantastically corrupt”?

The next time a member of the British establishment describes Nigeria as “a failed state” perhaps we should remind them of the time a government minister resigned after admitting to overseeing a £4 billion fraud – and it wasn’t even the biggest political scandal that week!

In London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson – recently censured for accepting in the region of 62m Naira to refurbish his flat from a wealthy backer – stands accused of hosting boozy parties during COVID-19 lockdown.

One such incident – for which his secretary invited attendees to bring alcohol to a gathering in the Prime Minister’s house – saw Johnson insist that he believed himself to have been at “a work event”.

Johnson now stands accused of enjoying a birthday party during a time when up and down the UK – and around the world – parents were telling their children they were not allowed one. This was even a time when the Queen sat alone at her husband’s funeral to obey social distancing requirements.

Had no one told Johnson it was his birthday? Is he being presented with a cake and serenaded a regular workday occurrence?

The British Prime Minister is now subject to a police investigation.

I’ll repeat that.

The British Prime Minister is now subject to a police investigation.

While all of this was going on, Finance Minister Lord Theodore Agnew stood up in Parliament to announce that no less than £4.3bn of public money set aside for COVID-19 assistance for businesses had been lost to fraud.

The admission came after the New York Times described the UK’s pandemic spending as being characterised by “waste, negligence and cronyism”, leading to a situation where “politically connected businesses reaped billions”.

The American newspaper has estimated that “about half” of the UK’s pandemic spending went to “companies with political connections, no prior experience or histories of controversy.”

These included contracts for one company currently on the receiving end of two global corruption probes and a $470m protective equipment contract to a pest control firm that supplied 600,000 unusable face masks.

At least Boris Johnson has not publically accused Nigeria of being “fantastically corrupt” as one of his predecessors did!
Lord Agnew – the government minister with the responsibility for fighting financial fraud! – admitted that “schoolboy errors” saw 1000 “ghost” businesses given public money.

UK government figures suggest that overall £5.8 billion was stolen from pandemic relief schemes by people claiming cash they weren’t entitled to.
Again, imagine the response in Britain if a Nigerian politician admitted this!
But here perhaps Nigerian leaders could learn something from their British counterparts.

Lord Agnew was not personally to blame for this fraud – presumably, he did not order his officials to allow it – but he accepted responsibility for it and immediately tendered his resignation.
This prompted praise from opposition parliamentarians, with one calling him “a minister who felt his integrity could no longer ensure he remained a member of the Government.

“Can I just take this opportunity to say on behalf of these benches how much we appreciate the honour and integrity that has just been displayed by the minister”, said another.

This shouldn’t need saying, but people appreciate openness and transparency from their leaders.

At the digital democracy campaign I lead, we aim to give them the platforms they need to deliver it.

We have created a free mobile app called Rate Your Leader, which was designed to reconnect electors and the elected, opening direct channels of communication between people and their elected officials – giving local people the kind of access previously only enjoyed by funders.

Rate Your Leader encourages politicians to speak directly to the people they serve and explain the decisions they have made and the reasons for them. If the voters don’t like the answer they get, they can rate their politicians badly.

This leads to greater levels of trust in a political class that the voters can see are working for them, and accountable to them.

Digital technologies like Rate Your Leader put transparency and accountability and your fingertips. Direct communication from politician to person, peer to peer.
We’d be happy to offer Boris Johnson a free account. But we must warn him if he continues to break the rules he made in the rooms, he made them he is unlikely to be rated very highly.

0 Comments

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

*