Inflated contracts cost the economy billions of dollars that could have been used in improving the standard of living of the populace through provision of more and better infrastructure, investment in industries, better health care service, salary increase e.t.c.
In awarding contracts, due diligence is ignored, and in most cases, only the mediocre foreign companies that grease the palms of government officials are awarded lucrative consulting, construction or supply contracts that in many cases could be performed better by Nigerian professionals and/or companies for a fraction of the price. Since practise makes perfect, thus, Nigerian professionals are denied the opportunity to learn and grow professionally.
This act, undoubtedly is a threat to man power development, which is a prerequisite in order to achieve economic independence and prosperity.
This particular issue is covered in details in one of my articles titled “Empowering Nigerian professionals to turn around the economy.”
Millions of innocent Nigerians have paid dearly with their lives as a result of foreign bribery and corruption in the pharmaceutical sector. In the past, Indians and Chinese bribed our government officials and The Nigerian Customs so that they could turn a blind eye to mass exportation of fake drugs into the country. Millions of sick Nigerians bought tablets or drugs that they thought would cure them of their sicknesses and diseases. Unknowingly to them, they were buying poison with their own money – which eventually sent them to their untimely deaths.
Professor Dora Akunyili and her NAFDAC deserve a lot of praise and commendation for the uncompromised war against the exporters of fake drugs into the country.
Undoubtedly, the unprecedented number of plane crashes recorded in Nigeria is another consequence of foreign bribery and corruption. Nigerians connived with foreigners to sell planes that had already long been written off in the west, as not sky worthy, to fly Nigerians. Sky rocketed consulting and maintenance contracts of these aircrafts are awarded to foreign companies. Many of these planes later turned out to be ‘flying coffins’ which led to the tragic deaths of countless number of Nigerians. Plane crashes have not only brought sorrow and tears to many families, but have turned thousands of Nigerians into widows, widowers and orphans over night. The loose of the bread winner has suddenly changed the destinies of many for the worse forever.
LOSS HARD CURRENCY
Nigeria with its strategic location is a fishing haven for any foreign fishing company. Foreign fishing companies could bribe Nigerian officials to have uncontrolled and unlimited fishing rights. This act denies the country the capability to be self sufficient in food production or feeding its populace. In addition, the country is denied a very lucrative source of earning foreign currency. The author is convinced that if our fish industry is well managed, it is capable of generating hard currency comparable in magnitude, if not more, than what we presently earn from oil.
SECURITY THREAT, ENVIROMENTAL HAZARDS
Apart from economic threat, Uncontrolled and unmonitored access of a foreign company’s fishing vessel to Nigeria’s water could as well constitute security threat and enviromental catastrophe. Spying equipments could easily be installed at our coasts or shores to provide classified information to the country in which the foreign fishing company is based. Worse, polluted or radioactive wastescould be disposed in our water. The magnitude of the health hazard this can cause the nation is even frightening to imagine.
In a nutshell, foreign bribery and corruption is a threat to the economic security of a country. All things being equal, many of our trade partners want us to remain disorganised and underdeveloped, so that their products and services will always be in demand. It is in their interest for us to be in economic bondage so that they can continue to exploit us. In most cases, the so called ‘foreign investor’ invests a dollar in our economy, but makes profit running into millions of dollars and is taken out of the country with ease.
THREAT TO SOVEREIGNTY
Perhaps, one of the most serious dangers foreign bribery posses to a country like Nigeria is a challenge to its sovereignty.
By sovereignty, I mean the ability of a country to make and impliment economic, social, military, security and political decisions – that reflect its interests – independently without foreign intervention or influence.
The ability of a country to mobilise all the resources within its disposal: military, human, economic and political to defend its interest without any external intervention or influence is what really makes A STATE, and draws the line between a SOVEREIGN COUNTRY and A BANANA REPUBLIC.
Transnational Corporations with turnover or capitilazation that dwarf the combined budgets or GDP of Nigeria and many African countries can determine or influence the outcome of elections by sponsoring their protegee. When such a protegee gets elected, he makes policies that are in the interest of the foreign companies, but detrimental to his country; afterall, as the saying goes, he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
The consequence of this is that the country loses its sovereignty; dejure it is an independent country but defacto, it is a puppet country or banana republic controlled remotedly from outside. Economic and political policies are dictated from outside. Unofficially, it turns into a colony that dances to the whims and caprices of its economic master(s).
THE RUSSIANS ARE ALREADY HERE
Since the construction of Ajaokuta metallurgy factory, the russians have been in Nigeria for long. However, Russia’s presence in Nigeria took a new dimension with the acquisition of ASCOM by RUSAL – now the biggest Aluminium plant in the world, – after merging with two other very big Russian aluminium companies towards the end of last year.
Rusal is owned by Russian billionaire Deripasky – who is just under 40. We will take a detailed analysis of this deal in this article.
Russian business men are presently trooping into Nigeria to cut deals both with the federal government and private businesses. This was confirmed during one of my recent conversation with a Nigerian diplomat based in Moscow.
Nigeria, together with Angola, Algeria and South Africa were named by the Russian President in a russian monthly banking journal – that I read a couple of months ago – as the four African countries that are of first priority to Russia in terms of investments and business relationships.
Unfortunately, our government and business men do not know so much about the ‘modern Russia,’ which has undergone an unprecedented social, economic and political transformation within the past 15 years, since the break up of the Soviet Union. This lack of adequate information about Russia put The federal government and Nigerian business men at a very big disadvantage vis a vis their russian counterparts.
Therefore, this article is also going to be a sort of guide for Nigerian business men who are already doing business or planning to do business with Russian companies.
However, the main question we will try to answer in this article is “Is russian business expansion into Nigeria a source of investment opportunities or a potential risk?” The importance of this question even becomes timely and very vital in the lights of The Transparence International Bribery Index report.
TO BE CONTINUED