How Nigerians React To Cameron’s Comment | Independent Newspapers Limited
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How Nigerians React To Cameron’s Comment

Posted: May 14, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Ejikeme Omenazu

LAGOSSeveral days after the comment by David Cameron, British Prime Minister, on the level of corruption in the country, the issue continues to dominate public discourse. It hap



pened on Tuesday May 10, 2016 when David Cameron, British Prime Minister was in conversation with Queen Elizabeth11. The subject of the discussion was the just ended anti-corruption summit in London. It was a Commonwealth event. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, was also present in that meeting. During the conversation, as reported by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Cameron was quoted to have said that “Nigeria is fantastically corrupt”. He did not only mention Nigeria, he said the same thing about Afghanistan. Afghanistan was ranked at 167, ahead of only Somalia and North Korea, in Transparency International’s 2015 corruption perception index. Nigeria was at 136.
According to BBC report, “We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain… Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world,” Mr. Cameron said. After . Cameron’s comments, Welby, reportedly intervened to say: “But this particular president(referring to President Muhammadu Buhari) is not corrupt… he’s trying very hard. With his remark, the Archbishop was believed to have been referring to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who won elections last year promising to fight widespread corruption. Immediately after Cameron’s statement, the news waves were rife with it as print, broadcast and online media all over the world fished on it, and it soon became a topic in Nigeria.
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State mostly regarded as ardent critic of Buhari’s administration, expectedly blamed him for Cameron’s statement. According to him, the president’s utterances outside Nigeria was the reason Cameron described Nigeria as “fantastically corrupt”.
Fayose said: “What do you expect from the international community when the president of a nation keeps going abroad to say that his people are corrupt?” According to him, it was annoying that Buhari said he was embarrassed and shocked by Cameron’s comment. He maintained that instead of telling Nigerians that he was shocked, Buhari should indeed apologise to the people for de-marketing the country and his people.
The governor, who spoke through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said it was on record that in February this year, Buhari said in United Kingdom that “Nigerians’ reputation for crime has made them unwelcome in Britain” and went on to warn Nigerians to stop trying to make asylum claims in Britain, saying that their reputation for criminality has made it hard for them to be accepted abroad.
He said: “When a president mounts the podium in foreign lands and gleefully says that his own people are criminals, that they are corrupt and that those abroad should be sent back home, why won’t presidents of other countries brand all citizens of such a country as fantastically corrupt?
“Rather than this grandstanding from the presidency, concerted efforts should be made to redeem the image of Nigeria that the president has destroyed.”
Fayose, who said he was not against the anti-corruption efforts of the federal government, used the opportunity to castigate the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC, which he said behave as if it is above the law.
Apart from Fayose, other Nigerians have reacted to the comment.. According to Chris Maduka, public affairs analyst and political strategist, “corruption is not just confined to the corridors of stolen funds starched away by the political class in foreign banks. “ Maduka, who is the National President, New Tone In Leadership Foundation, stressed that even here in Nigeria, the banking sector is the major culprit of corruption and raping of the economy and wrecking the nation’s standard of living.
According to Maduka, “The normal world out there defines corruption more broadly than we have deliberately decided to do here because we are all to some extent as the Prime Minister said, corrupt.” He maintained that there are so many things bedeviling this country that qualify Nigerians for the characterisation used by the Prime Minister.
He said: “And these things are happening now, not 2014 or 1987. Certain things we rationalise and accept are abhorred and rejected by other normal societies. Trust me, I know. Have we removed the security votes? Have we dealt with the retirement package of former political office holders that are now sitting as governors or Senators? Have we dealt with long and expensive convoys? Have we dealt with huge selective concessions and waivers running into billions given away by the authorities? So many questions than answers.
“So Cameron’s comment as condescending and insulting as we may view it; as hypocritical as it is, because under the conspiracy law, they the British society are the willing accomplices and co-conspirators of the fantastic corruption the Prime Minister referred to, yet our actions and inactions are giving credence and validity to the PM David Cameron’s remarks as we speak.”
The Presidency was not also left out in condemning the comment of British Prime Minister. The government described Cameron’s statement as quite embarrassing. It maintained that Cameron was behind the news as things were already changing in the country, especially with the President Buhari’s anti-corruption war. Aso Roch also commended Archbishop Welby for disagreeing with Cameron over anti-Buhari comments. In Nigeria, Cameron’s statement attracted harsh criticisms, as it went viral. A statement issued by Shehu Garba, President Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media, described the comment as one which was very embarrassing, especially in the wake of the anti-corruption war in the country. According to him, “This is embarrassing to us, to say the least, given the good work that the President is doing. The eyes of the world are on what is happening here,” the statement read.
He added: “The Prime Minister must be looking at an old snapshot of Nigeria. Things are changing with corruption and everything else.” Garba commended the remarks made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who stated vehemently that Nigeria’s present leader is not a corrupt one.
Garba’s statement read: “Thank you to the Archbishop. We have great admiration for the good relationship between our two countries.”
However, President Buhari who appeared to have a different opinion on the comment, while personally reacting to the statement on Thursday rose in support of Cameron, saying he was being honest by his description of Nigeria as a “fantastically corrupt country.” Buhari who spoke to Cable News Network (CNN) correspondent Christiane Amanpour, was quoted as saying that Cameron’s statement could not be faulted because he was honest. Buhari stated: “I think he’s being honest about it…I don’t think you can fault him.”