Empowering Nigerian Professionals To Turn Around The Economy

by Bode Eluyera

Western countries and consulting companies have mastered the system of siphoning money from many developing countries by rendering services that are either of very little value or in many cases, could even have negative consequences. One of the bases for this assertion is John Perkin’s book titled: The confessions of an economic hit man. ‘ Below is a full excerpt of the book from amazon.com web site.

John Perkins started and stopped writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man four times over 20 years. He says he was threatened and bribed in an effort to kill the project, but after 9/11 he finally decided to go through with this expose of his former professional life. Perkins, a former chief economist at Boston strategic-consulting firm Chas. T. Main, says he was an “economic hit man” for 10 years, helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business.” Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars,” Perkins writes. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is an extraordinary and gripping tale of intrigue and dark machinations. Think John Le Carre, except it’s a true story.

Perkins writes that his economic projections cooked the books Enron-style to convince foreign governments to accept billions of dollars of loans from the World Bank and other institutions to build dams, airports, electric grids, and other infrastructure he knew they couldn’t afford. The loans were given on condition that construction and engineering contracts went to U.S. companies. Often, the money would simply be transferred from one bank account in Washington, D.C., to another one in New York or San Francisco. The deals were smoothed over with bribes for foreign officials, but it was the taxpayers in the foreign countries who had to pay back the loans. When their governments couldn’t do so, as was often the case, the U.S. or its henchmen at the World Bank or International Monetary Fund would step in and essentially place the country in trusteeship, dictating everything from its spending budget to security agreements and even its United Nations votes.It was, Perkins writes, a clever way for the U.S. to expand its “empire” at the expense of Third World citizens. While at times he seems a little overly focused on conspiracies, perhaps that’s not surprising considering the life he’s led. –Alex Roslin –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

John Perkins’s book is highly recommended for those who want to know more on this issue

It was reported in the news that the finance ministry employed the service of a foreign consulting firm to negotiate our debts, and paid $100,000 a month for more than 12 months. In my opinion, these consulting companies including the one used by the federal government are parts of the networks; mentioned in Perkin’s book, set up by foreign companies to exploit developing countries. Debt reduction negotiations is the prerogative of the finance ministry to carry out on its own.

The ministry should have searched for Nigerians well versed in this field to carry out the assignment. By so doing, these Nigerian specialists will not only be given the opportunity to upgrade or add to their professional experience but, sensitive information concerning the nation’s economy will be protected, and most especially, negotiation tactics and strategies to achieve a desired result will be intact.

I have no doubts that in my mind that if the former finance minister had taken her time to search well, she would definitely have found some Nigerians who are well qualified enough to carry out this job. And needless to say that, the job would have been done at a much cheaper rate; and this would have saved enormous amount of the taxpayers’ money.

May I please ask at this juncture then why the hell has the federal government paid the former financial minister more than $200,000, if she still had to invite consultants at a sky rocket price.

Personally, I believe that the appointment of the former finance minister was a ‘technical mistake’ on the part of the federal government. Inviting a V.P. from the World Bank to negotiate debts owned to The World Bank or its subsidiaries created conflict of interests, and in my opinion, was ‘technically wrong.’ Moreso, Uweala did not resign from The World Bank but took a leave of absence.

Moreover, paying the former minister monthly salary in dollars – that was much more than other ministers was immoral. It was like saying that she and her job were more important than other ministers – which I strongly disagree with. In my opinion, every ministry is important. I don’t think that Uweala’s job was more important than that of Prof. Dora Akunyili, who has escaped two assasination attempts and is risking her life every second in her battle to keep our country out of fake drugs. Her performance is overwhelming and she has saved millions of lives in her uncompromised war.

With my knowledge in finance, I really don’t think that Uweala did something extra ordinary for Nigeria. She did not take part in wealth creation. All she did was to take the accumulated money from the oil reserve and transferred it to the accounts of our creditors.

The debt reduction too could be explained. Our creditors had made enough profit from the debts on the accrued percentage we paid in the past that even with the debt reduction, it was still a very profitable deal for them. Moreover, they understood too that if they don’t collect their money now when we had it and OBJ is in power, they may never have such an opportunity again. After all, half bread is better than none. Thus, by giving us a debt reduction, our creditors were equally acting in their own interest.

I am convinced that there are a number of Nigerian professionals who are capable of achieving the same result like Uweala; and even better, but for the same pay like other ministers.

There is always the need to carry-out a cost/benefit analysis and security implication for the country before taking any decision. Senior government officials and top managers of our companies need to be trained on how to communicate with foreign companies and specialists in Nigeria or while on business trips abroad.

Finally, there’s the need to formulate and implement policies that will ensure that as many jobs as possible go to Nigerians especially in the oil and gas sectors. Multinationals should be prohibited from employing foreign nationals in Nigeria, unless it can be proved beyond any reasonable doubts that there are no Nigerians inside or outside the country that are capable of doing the job.

We should learn to appreciate, value, promote and reward very well Nigerian specialists. After all, charity begins at home! It is high time Nigerian professionals are empowered to turn around the economy.


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sam umah December 24, 2006 - 7:54 am

Jesus! You spoke my mind; I strongly wish that all our ministers will get to know this and have a comprehensive detail of this article on their desk. I will also need for them to pass it on to the next administration. Its unfortunate that Nigerians are the ones ripping off themselves.

In paragraph 13 line 1 I guess you meant to say that Nigeria is not a banana republic, check it out.

As for Mr. Falomo; I couldnt have expected less, he gave what he had. As a full fleshed mediocre he couldnt have gone looking for an expert in black skin since he couldnt come to terms with a different philosophy. He wasted the precious time of Nigerians and the money of his company; I am of the opinion that EFCC should close in on him.

Good work, try publishing in one of the widely read dallies in Naija.

Anonymous December 19, 2006 - 8:27 pm

Nigerians have distinguished themselves in all fields and are well respected the world over for their skills. Unfortunately the attitudes of Nigerians to their work and profession is different when they are outside the shores of Nigeria where they are competing with the very best. And we can have a lot of valid excuses for this. For example a Nigerian professional employed in the US will take his job seriously, will report for work on time and try to meets his work schedule and target as agreed with his employer. Take him to Nigeria and the shakara begins. He comes in late, does not care too much about his employer making profit or loss. He does his employer work at leisure. This may sound too harsh but it is the truth about most Nigerians but not all Nigerians. Our national attitude needs to change.

Another problem is the slave mentality. If Mr Falowo were to bring in a Nigerian for his seminar. Not many people will pay to come to the seminar. But if he goes to the streets of new york and bring in any smooth talking white skinned fellow, Nigerians are bound to flock to the seminar even if they have never heard of him for all they care they have been told he is an expert and of course they can afford they fees and most important of all they can boast about attending an expensive seminar in the circle of their friends. Mr Falowo is a business man and is probably aware of Nigerian experts in the diaspora but then he has to make profits. Until our mentality changes this trend will continue.

Also many Nigerian experts need to concentrate on building a track record before they can be trusted by their fellow country men to deliver. It is not enough to go to the best schools and acquire high sounding degrees. Start from somewhere. Do not expect to be invited to Aso Rock tomorrow. It takes time, dedication and vision.


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