I was going to write on that day because I heard, on the same BBC radio broadcast, another story about yet another massively rich, corrupt African stashing his billions abroad.
In other news, yesterday I heard the flabbergasting news that the EU is donating $1 BILLION to Nigeria, to help with corruption…
HUH? To help WITH corruption. Why does stuff like this still surprise me?
Right. A bit of background…
In the first story, our reluctant hero is Mr. TN Obiang, the Minister of Forestry and Agric. (and the son of the President) of Equatorial Guinea.
His country is the third richest in oil in Africa, just below Angola and Nigeria. There is a tiny population of half a million people. In 2007, the government sold USD$4.3 Billion in oil. Yet 90% of the 500,000 inhabitants live on less than a dollar a day.
This leaves quite a few billion for the government guys…
The news story goes on to explain that Mr. Obiang travels freely between his little country and the USA, to his Malibu Mansion, commonly carrying millions in cash each time he enters the states(normally punishable by a 5 year prison term), despite supposed laws in the states that deny entry to corrupt foreign officials. He keeps quite a few millions in bank accounts in America as well.
These laws are enforced, when it comes to guys like Mugabe – Zimbabwe’s tyrannical despot.
Why the double standard then?
Oil. And America’s interest in it.
Which brings us to the second story. The EU working with the Nigerian government, globally renowned for corruption, by offering them USD$1 Billion to assist…
Other African countries are up-in-arms about the choice of this massive donation to the richest oil country in Africa, eighth richest oil country in the world.
But that is the point really.
Oil. And the EU’s interest in it.
In the BBC story, the reporter asked so many of the questions I was squirming in my seat, itching to ask.
“Why Nigeria? With it’s vast oil reserves and billions in annual income from oil?”
“With the Nigerian government’s dismal track record for corruption, surely the EU is somewhat concerned that the funds will not be used as per their intended aim?”
etc. etc. etc.
The answers from the EU press officer were wishy-washy, non-committal. No surprise.
What makes my blood boil is that the bleeding heart Americans and Europeans don’t put all these facts together.
NGO’s grow and collaborate and fundraise, and promote guilt and scrape like finger nails on the thin raw skin of western conscience, to help, help, help! These helpless Africans.
Meanwhile the Western governments condone, concede, support and feed into the corruption.
When Mr. Obiang is welcomed at LAX, whisked over to his Malibu mansion in the stretch limo, darkened windows, cool aircon and refreshments in the back seat, there is a directly proportionate mass of slum dwellers back home, robbed of the basics of sanitation, housing, education, clean water, electricity. Babies are born and die the next day in a pool of their mother’s blood where the midwife couldn’t save their lives in the corrugated iron shack amid the thousands in a shanty.
I read further that despite his official salary of $6000 per month, he bought his mansion for $26million cash. Plus three Bugatti Veyron sports cars at £1.2million each.
The proceeds from just one of these cars would have bought enough mosquito nets for every child in his country, where malaria is the number one childkiller.
So the next time a campaign to end poverty in Africa comes my way, I’ll give them the address of T N Obiang in Malibu. I doubt he’s given yet.