*David Cameron’s Error of Judgement*


*Hometruths By Adeola Akinremi, Email: adeola.akinremi@thisdaylive.com

Do you really take the British Prime Minister, David Cameron serious?

Cameron has used a number of words in the past, even to his own countrymen that should make us ignore him.

In January, Cameron’s appetite for using wrong phrases to describe situations was condemned by everyone including the United Nations, when he described immigrants as a “swarm of people.”

The real trouble with Cameron is his narrow view of the world. So I agree with those who called him hypocrite or those who say he sounds like Tory.

For instance when he talked about the Calais Crisis, during a visit to Vietnam, Mr. Cameron said attempts to enter the United Kingdom had increased because “you have got a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs, it’s got a growing economy, it’s an incredible place
to live”.

Unsurprisingly, Cameron has now said Nigeria is “fantastically corrupt” without reservation and in an ineradicable manner common with the Tory leader.

But the probable question to ask Cameron is why is it difficult to get Nigeria’s looted fund out of Britain after many years and why did it take Cameron days to acknowledge that he benefitted financially from an offshore account of a company seemingly created to avoid British taxes as revealed by Panama Papers?

That British fantasy that makes Nigeria still looks like a subject rather than a sovereign country more than 50 years after independence has been one of the reasons to blame for Cameron’s wrong choice of words to describe Nigeria, despite efforts by the current government to turn the tide.

It may really have much to do with aid that the United Kingdom still gives to Nigeria, but Cameron is not looking beyond the end of his nose, when he made that comment.

Curiously, Cameron and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari met just a few hours after the disparaging statement, but I’m glad Buhari, a man who will not take insult from anyone cleverly called Cameron’s country, a rogue haven.

“Corruption does not differentiate between developed and developing countries… I have already mentioned how disgraceful one of the Nigerian executive dressed as a woman to leave Britain, leaving behind his bank account and fixed asset, which Britain is prepared to hand over to us, this is what I’m asking for. What will I do with apology? I need something tangible.”

“Repatriating stolen assets is tedious, time-consuming, costly. It entails more than just signing of bilateral agreements,” he said.

“I call for establishment of an anti-corruption infrastructure that will trace and return stolen assets to their countries of origin.

“This consideration informed my decision to attend this event as well as the anti-corruption summit organised by Prime Minister David Cameron that will be held tomorrow.”

“I’m not going to demand any apology. All I demand is a return of assets. What would I do with apology?” the president asked.

So, will Cameron step forward and respond to Buhari’s major request? The idea that looted fund is difficult to get back from Britain and other western countries should be a serious concern for everyone, because while the west continues to blame governments in Africa and elsewhere of not doing enough to tackle corruption, they enjoy having the loot stashed up in their countries.

Some of the monies stolen by the late Nigerian military dictator, General Sanni Abacha, are still being held by countries where the monies were laundered more than 19 years after.

And while the funds are being used to improve the economy of the countries where they are deposited, the Nigerian people, who own the looted funds, are facing healthcare and infrastructure challenges that the fund could have been used to improve, if they had been repatriated.

The complicity of the UK financial sector and others in money laundering has been established over the years. For instance, £23bn-£57bn was said to be the estimate of funds laundered each year.

Even a recent UK government report confirmed that the volume of corrupt money moving in and out of the UK is huge. So what is Cameron up to when he said Nigeria is “fantastically corrupt” without telling us the role of his own country in making corruption a festering abscess.

With a subtle description calling it a “significant intelligence gaps,” a report from the UK Homeland said: “There are known professional enablers within the legal sector who are facilitating money laundering through the purchase of property with criminal proceeds, and the creation of complex corporate structures and offshore vehicles to conceal the ownership and facilitate the movement of criminal assets.

“Although there are few complicit professional enablers known within the legal sector relative to the size of the sector as a whole, the potential impact they can have on money laundering remains high given their ability to conceal and disguise large sums of criminal money. They also pose a threat to the reputation and integrity of the vast majority in the legal sector who are not complicit in money laundering”.

Where do we go from here? The solution to corruption is not to see it as a developing countries’ problem. To do that will be myopic and that is what Mr. Cameron wants us to believe.

Follow me on twitter: @adeolaakinremi1