State of the nation: Everyone benefited from corruption – Bolaji Akinyemi
A FORMER Minister of External Affairs, Prof
Bolaji Akinyemi has said that the current
hardship in Nigeria was birthed by the wrong
application of resources by Nigerians, noting
that everyone benefited from the circle of
systemic corruption in the country.
He also cautioned that the failure to
acknowledge that the hardship was
collectively caused would ensure that similar
mistakes were repeated when the nation
eventually survives recession
Speaking on the topic, Nigerian
Exceptionalism: Nigerian Quest for World
Leadership at the 2016 convocation lecture of
the University of Ibadan, he assessed the state
of the nation against the backdrop of
prevailing economic crisis and concluded that
everyone was culpable.
His words: “A major factor responsible for our
present state is not lack of resources but a
scandalous application of resources, not by
government alone but by Nigerians. How can
you describe as poor a country which spent a
total of N1.18 trillion on the importation of
toothpick, fish, milk, textiles, rice, and furniture
between 2014 and May 2015?
‘’ Let me make one thing absolutely clear. I
accept that there is a lot of suffering in the
land. I am not denying that there is a lot of
poverty now and that we are in a recession.
But I am also claiming that we bear our share
of responsibility for this financial peculiar
It is not government alone that is responsible
for N62.8b of imported French fries rather
than the potatoes produced in the Middle
Belt, the $6m daily of imported rice while
800,000 tons of rice go unbought in Kebbi,
the N7.2b spent on imported toothpick and
billions of naira spent on Brazilian, Japanese
and Indian hair pieces. Was it the government
that was travelling and bringing in goods from
China, Dubai, and Italy among others?
“Another issue is the proposition that
corruption has had a negative effect on
Nigerian exceptionalism. The latest figures on
corruption are quite illuminating. We are not
even the most corrupt country in the world.
China leads the world over a 10-year period
which was from 2004 -2013 with US$139
trillion in illicit outflows, followed by Russia,
Mexico, India, and Malaysia with Nigeria at
China also had the largest illicit outflows of
any country in 2013, amounting to a
staggering US$258.64 billion in just that year.
‘’ Here is a message on social media that
aptly summarises the culpability of all of us
and is titled: State of the Nation. I have been
following closely the activities of this
government and whenever I have the
opportunity, I try to find out the opinions of
people as regards the performance of this
government. I just realized that the hardship
faced by many Nigerians is simply as a result
of the fact that almost every one of us
benefited from the cycle of corruption.
”The bricklayer, plumber, laborers and tiller
are all complaining because building
construction has slowed down massively
because the thieves no longer have money to
spend on real estate. The car dealers are
grumbling because their cars are begging for
buyers. Thieves can no longer spend
wastefully. The private school owners are
shouting because parents can no longer pay
outrageous sums and are withdrawing their
wards. The fact is, we have been living above
our means. We have been staying in houses
that ordinarily our incomes can’t afford. Our
children are going to schools we can’t afford.
Now the reality is before us and we don’t want
to accept it. This shows how morally bankrupt
we are. You can’t eat your cake and have it.
”You got billions from bank without collateral
using your political influence. You put half
into your business and spent the other half on
exotic cars, jewelries among others. Your
business employs 100 people normally.
You got illegal waivers and concessions to
import raw materials at rock bottom prices
and you got over-inflated contract to supply
some goods your company produce. In short
your company is kept afloat by corruption.
Now the new Sheriff in town says: no more
ridiculous waivers, no more inflated contracts,
no more bank loans without collateral, in fact
its time you or your company pay off the
billions of debt owed.
”Corruption is relevant in the misapplication
of resources which undermines the corpus of
resources available for development. If we do
not understand all these issues, as soon as
we start to come out of recession, we will
make the same mistakes all over again as we
did with the recession of the 1980s.”