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As President Obama visits Ghana

As Barack Obama visits Africa he should seriously consider establishing a Marshal Plan for Africa, Stop Barclays Bank establishing a tax haven in Ghana, Confront African Corruption and establish an International Corruption Crimes Court.

 

1. As Obama visits Ghana by Eze Eluchie, Esq

As President Barack Obama embarks on his maiden visit (in his capacity as President of the United States of America) to Africa, the most exploited continent on earth, I am prompted to address this correspondence to his Office in the belief that his attention will somewhat be focused on African issues in the course of his brief sojourn through our continent.  

To Obama:

Prime motivation to pen this correspondence emanates from the pivotal role your country has played, is playing and can play in global affairs. I admit to being further emboldened to write this letter by the fact that whilst your opponents in your quest to secure the mandate to lead your country had embarked on presidential campaigns, you had initiated a global movement for change predicated on the pillars of justice, equity, solidarity and sustainability.

I must confess to being further prompted to write you following the realization that the only mention tour made of Africa in your groundbreaking addres at Cairo University, Egypt was:

Around the world, we can turn dialogue into interfaith service, so bridges between peoples lead to action — whether it is combating malaria in Africa, or providing relief after a natural disaster.

I was worried this was indicative of a further continuation of the stereotyped thinking in the west of seeing Africa only in terms of its diseases! 

Let me at this juncture refresh your mind on the usual pattern of visits of U.S. Presidents to sub-Saharan African countries, a pattern that I am hoping your scheduled visit will detour from:

i.)                 President gets inundated with dire and gory data on HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB, Cholera, civil wars, blood diamonds, blood oil and a litany of other woes besetting countries in the continent.

ii.)               Economic experts from the Bretton Woods institutions and their hangers-on will harp on the inevitability of more loans and aids as the panacea for the continents development.

iii.)             White House protocol officers will ensure that all ingredients (including water) which Mr. President may consume/ingest in the course of his stay in Africa is parked into Air Force 1

iv.)            In the African country to be visited, preparations will basically be in the form of fresh coats of paints on buildings where the U.S. leader will waltz through, filling potholes on the routes the U.S. Presidential convoy will transverse and commandeering traditional dance troupes to entertain the august visitor. (I believe U.S. presidents who have visited Nigeria and some other African countries in the past would have fainted if they ever had an inkling as to the scandalously over exaggerated contracts for mom-essentials, such as toilet papers, miniature flags, which their brief visits allowed corrupt state officials an opportunity to milk the treasury)

v.)              At the end of the, at times 12 hour or maximum 24 hour visit, grand proclamations on HIV/AIDS, cholera, hunger and other scourges will be made, bilateral (or to be more apt, unilateral agreements will be signed, the content of which in most cases the African ruler signing either has no idea whatsoever or is ignorant of the implications thereof. Usually such agreements leave the African country visited more exploited and the citizenry thereof further pauperized.

Will your visit be different? I certainly believe and hope so. My believe is predicated on your antecedents, pronouncements on equity and your reference in your inauguration speech to stand with oppressed people wherever they might be in the world and my hope is based on the projection that the west will begin to appreciate that good governance and prosperity in African countries is not inversely proportional to the well-being of western societies.

The Problem:

The purpose of this correspondence is not to gloss over or diminish the implications on the peoples and States of Africa of the various scourges plaguing the continent, rather, I seek to draw attention to the need to frontally confront the causative scourge of all other scourges (what you may refer to as the mother of all scourges) – Corruption.

Corrupt and kleptomaniac rulers have been foisted and perpetuated on African countries (usually by forces outside the continent) for the past couple of decades, thus giving rise to the plethora of problems plaguing the continent, particularly countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

It has not been by coincidence that visionary leaders of African countries who tried to move their individual countries in the path of development did not last long in Office (usually overthrown in coups instigated from outside Africa) whilst rulers whose sole purpose was to further pauperize their peoples and mortgage the collective future of their countries seem able to last for seeming eternities with a strangle hold on their countries. The flourish and red-carpet receptions accorded to some of these despicable dictators when they visit western nations tend to give credence to their sources of power.

Consequences of Corruption

The effect or consequences of corruption on emerging economies have been well researched and documented. I will strive to succinctly state these effects:

i.                    Every dollar stolen by the ruler of an African country and his cohorts and dumped outside of the country in question, usually into a western country (Bank, Real Estate, Stocks or in any other way) directly amounts to one dollar less in the sum available in the African country in question, to alleviate poverty, provide public infrastructure and general good governance.

ii.                  Poverty, absence of public infrastructure in core areas such as health, education, transportation, communication and so on and bad governance directly give rise to the myriad of scourges plaguing the African countries, such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Polio, TB and so forth.

iii.                The inequalities generated by corruption lead to political instability, civil strife and ultimately, wars; whilst the impunity conferred by wanton corruption facilitates an environment of lawlessness and abuse of fundamental rights.

In a nutshell, corruption is bad and corrupt leadership has been the bane of African countries.

It is thus easily discernible how concerted international action against corruption will translate, near-instantaneously, into progress and development for African countries.

Beneficiaries of and Losers to corruption:

In tackling official corruption in Africa, it is important to know the major characters in the illicit and lethal practice so that from the very onset, one disabuses his thinking from the age-old clichés (such as they are Africans “ they are corrupt) which have often time served to obviate the real instigators and beneficiaries of corruption in Africa.

Two prime beneficiaries of official corruption in Africa are

a.      The corrupt government official, his immediate family and associates-in- corruption. Foreign countries invest in foisting corrupt and kleptomaniac rulers on African countries with the sole aim of reaping from the fall-out, in terms of proceeds of corruption being invested in the said foreign country.. The more resources an African country has, the greater the level of foreign interest in foisting corrupt rulers. Rulers preferred by such foreign countries are usually of low IQ and ironically (as has been shown in the case of my country, Nigeria) have a penchant to pursue academic qualifications after departing Office, if they do so alive, and

b.     The recipient of looted funds in the western country “banks, real estate agents and stockbrokers and co. These are the real and ultimate beneficiaries of looted funds from Africa.  These supposedly erudite professionals encourage corrupt ignorant leaders from Africa, to deposit looted funds in 58-digit secret accounts (the numbers are known only to the looter and his foreign collaborator) or purchase properties and assets by proxies. Upon the demise of the corrupt official, neither the African country from whence the funds were looted nor the immediate families of the late corrupt official, have any idea where the loot is. The foreign collaborator(s) walks home with the looted funds intact!

Two losers to corruption in Africa are:

a.      The people of the continent who are forced to live in subhuman conditions devoid of the basics of modern existence, a condition that is making otherwise proud, peace-loving, hardworking, vice shunning populations amenable to all manner of atrocities ranging from substance and human trafficking, religious extremism, bone-chilling war crimes and many more vices, and

b.     The African continent suffers, at times irreparably and irreversibly, in the areas of environmental degradation, non-sustainable exploitation of mineral and natural resources..

The African Situation:

Is the situation in African countries hopeless? How can a continent blessed with abundant mineral and natural resources, peopled by vibrant, energetic and amiable populations and upon which the elements are kind (no monsoons, earthquakes, heat waves, tsunamis or snowstorms) continually serve as a drawback to global progress? Statistics available at the United Nations indicate that minus Africa, the world made tremendous progress in all facets of development (using the millennium development goals {MDGs} as a parameter). Add Africa to the equation and the global average in all indices of development falls into the negative.

The Way Forward

Mr. President, Sir, a three pronged approach is hereby suggested.

a.      A Marshall Plan for Africa

b.     Establishment of an international Corruption Crimes Court (ICCC)

c.     Unmasking financial safe-havens “the so called offshore banking and privacy policies of some western banks, and

d.     Good governance

A.A Marshall Plan for Africa

Statistics available at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime indicate that corrupt African rulers and their cronies have stolen sums in excess of U.S. $ 2 Trillion out of Africa in the past 50years. This figure is corroborated by projections from other independent sources and civil society organizations. The share size of the sum involved makes ones senses spin with indignation as to what level of progress and development the same sum if well utilized for and in Africa would have generated and wondering how such sums would have transformed African prospects and landscape.

The devastation caused on Africa by decades of wanton official corruption is what we are witnessing in Africa today. Large-scale malnourishment affecting the human intellect and psyche, physical degradation of mankind, diseases flourish in abundance and cohabit with humans, near total absence of infrastructures, breakdown of age-old societal norms and cultures, debasement of humanity amongst others. The list is endless. 

More graphically, the scars of the several cavil wars fought in Africa and the millions who died as a result of preventable diseases, coupled with the several millions barely existing due to excruciating poverty and want, further crystallize the impact of corruption on Africa and the African.

The enormity of the problems posed by official corruption in Africa is definitely beyond what can be left to Africans alone to tackle. Official corruption in Africa is a behemoth sin of international dimensions and thus requiring concerted international action to tackle.

My call for a Marshall Plan for Corruption in Africa is borne out of the example set by the allied forces after the destruction meted out to Germany, Japan and other loser nations after World War II (WWII).

In response to the devastation caused by WWII, allied countries, led by your United States, deemed it fit to commit several billion Dollars in rebuilding Germany, in the process transforming Germany into the power house of Europe and a mega player in global economy. Similar acts of magnanimity were extended to Japan and other countries devastated by WWII.

It is without doubt that if Germany, Japan and countries in similar conditions had been left to pick up (by themselves) from the shambles into which they had been bombed during WWII, it would have taken these countries nearly till eternity to join the rest of humanity in development.

Countries in African are at best in a similar position to what Germany was in 1945, but I believe in reality, far worse. We sure do deserve some form of Marshall Plan! Left to combat official corruption on their own, it will take African countries all of eternity and more to climb out of the vicious circle.

Specifics of the Marshall Plan for Africa

A.   Using existing domestic statutes in western countries and relevant international treaties and conventions (which laws are presently used to confiscate proceeds from illegal transactions in illicit substances, money laundering and other nefarious activities), the bulk of proceeds of official corruption in Africa can be identified and recovered from the criminals who stashed same away in western countries.

B.   Proceeds from assets derived from corrupt origins in Country in Africa but recovered from Country in say Europe will be returned to country and used to fund specific pre-determined development projects in. Such that properties confiscated from a Mobutu Sese Seko in France will be returned to fund specific projects in Zaire; and that from a Sani Abacha in Switzerland will likewise go to Nigeria.

C.   The recipient country in Africa will be required to have a list of fundable projects to be funded by repatriated loot.

D.   Authorities of the recipient country in Africa in collaboration with authorities of the repatriating country will decide on which projects will be funded with repatriated loot.

E.    Reasonable administrative costs borne by repatriating country in the entire transaction will be deducted from the looted funds prior to repatriation.

B. International Corruption Crimes Court (ICCC) {Enforcement Mechanism}:

To serve as a deterrent to budding or existing corrupt rulers in Africa, it is proposed that either the mandate of the International Criminal Court (ICC) be interpreted or expanded to encapsulate corruption offences/practices, or an independent International Corruption Crimes Court (ICCC) be established (with powers, scope and authority similar to the existing International Criminal Court) to prosecute and punish corrupt rulers and their collaborators whose acts of corruption has lead and continues to lead to massive humanitarian crisis in African countries

Going by what it causes, its adverse impact on societies and the implications for generations in the localities where it reigns supreme, Corruption is at the very least a crime against humanity! With more detailed scrutiny, it qualifies also as a war crime!

C. Unmasking Financial Safe Havens- so called off-shore banking:

For too long, the world has tolerated so called privacy policies and privacy banking laws of some banking institutions and countries. These policies and laws merely serve to provide safe havens to launder monies gotten from spurious origins (usually proceeds of corruption, drug trafficking and other illicit activities).

Countries where such privacy policies and laws reign pride themselves in supposedly respecting customer confidentiality “very much like the Sicilian Mafia gangs have omerta, an unwritten unbreakable law on silence. These policies shield and provide refuge for corrupt rulers of African countries who have robbed their countries blind. These banking policies and laws (in the countries where they operate) have become the major factor fostering public sector finance corrupt practices in Africa as they provide the rulers and their cohorts with two essential elements to steal, invincibility and safe retirement.

Would the world tolerate a safe haven for terrorists and persons indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court? Definitely not! I also believe that the world should not tolerate a safe haven for persons who loot public treasury anywhere in the world or whose acts of corruption has led to humanitarian crisis, conflict, dehumanization of populations and reducing peoples to lives of misery and abject poverty.

I congratulate your Government on the landmark actions taken thus far against the Swiss banking giant, UBS Group, which will ultimately lead to the unmasking of citizens of your country who have hid under Swiss banking laws and the privacy policy of the USB Group to defraud the American state of billions of dollars in taxes.

May I however remind you, Mr. President that restricting the benefits of the United States actions against just the Swiss USB Group or to U.S. citizens alone will only provide loopholes to be exploited to obviate the intendments of successes attained thus far. The benefits of the actions against the Swiss USB Banking group must be translated to have global relevance for any meaningful sustainable effect.

International pressure, including sanctions must be applied on countries that provide safe banking haven for corrupt rulers from Africa. Such pressure and sanctions must be maintained until such countries retrace their positions and join the rest of civilized mankind in tackling corruption.

D. Good governance and tackling corruption:

Inextricably linked to the issue of tackling corruption in countries in the African continent is the issue of good governance. Rulers whose assent to power was via corrupt means can hardly be expected not to be corrupt; as such rulers are in reality a personification of corruption

I believe you will resolutely let corrupt rulers who abound in the African continent know and realize that the United States will not be a sanctuary for those who have made their peoples refugees on their own home land,

Is this a call for the recolonization of Africa?

NO!

Save for the call for an International Corruption Crimes Court (ICCC) or the expansion of the mandate of the ICC, all other characteristics of the proposed Marshall Plan for Africa are not really distant from what currently obtains. In all African countries, there are a plethora of projects funded by developmental partners (The United Nations and its agencies, such as the World Bank, the European Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, the United States and sundry European countries).

The basic difference between what is proposed and what already exists is that in place of the present Loans or Aid Monies used to fund such projects, repatriated loot will fund such developmental projects. In addition, I had factored in some measures to cover the loophole exploited by corrupt officials in Nigeria in our immediate past government which led to the re-looting of funds recovered from a previous corrupt ruler.

Is this feasible?

Very much so!

All it requires is the political will of the western nations, of which yours, Mr. President, is an influential part of. The political will and foresight not to only treat African countries as beggarly dependent nations ruled by criminals but as potential partners in development.

Also critical in attaining the intendments in the Marshall Plan for Africa as proposed is erasing the mindset that seem to found present day international development collaboration “ an innate fear amongst technocrats in western economies that if Africa were ever to get its acts together, the wealth of the west will diminish “ a we-are-richer- because-we- make-you- poorer mentality.

If a Marshall Plan did work for Germany and much of Europe in the period after the WWII, it sure can work for Africa in the 21st century.

Can you, President Barack Obama, initiate and see to the implementation of a Marshall Plan for Africa as proposed, or something akin thereto? YES YOU CAN, and should

Can the rest of the world, particularly countries in Africa, support the Marshall Plan for Africa? YES WE CAN and we will!

By Eze Eluchie, Esq. Arrorney-at- Law , Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria

2. Stop Barclays Bank Establishing a Money Laundering Haven in Ghana – By Daniel Elombah

The Observer of May 3, 2009 reported that Barclays bank is playing a lead role in the establishment of a tax haven in Ghana. The paper says the British lender has for the last four years worked closely with the Ghanaian government to start an International Financial Services Centre offering low taxes and minimal financial disclosure.

The establishment of a fully operating tax haven so close to oil- and mineral-rich countries such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea will encourage a rapid increase in tax and capital flight. That could see huge mineral wealth in West Africa vanish into it from poverty-stricken countries’ coffers.

There is also concern that cocaine barons, increasingly using West Africa as a trafficking route into Europe, could launder drug money through Ghana. There are already concerns ‘regarding President Atta-Mills’ apparently smug attitude towards the massive and unprecedented use of Ghanaian territory to illegally smuggle narcotic drugs into both Western Europe and the United States’.

Recently, according to reports, two Ghanaian drug couriers, carrying substantially commercial amounts of contrabands, have been arrested at airports located dangerously close to the American seat of governance. Then in-between the aforesaid arrests, a huge consignment of illegal drugs, allegedly transhipped from Ghana into Germany, and was widely reported by the international media to have been intercepted. 

The process of establishing a Ghanaian tax haven has been under way since 2005 and Barclays was instrumental from the start when it signed a memorandum of understanding with the country.

Ghanaian banking laws have been reformed to allow Barclays to operate as an offshore bank. So far it is the only bank offering offshore tax services. But others are set to join when later this year a law is expected to be passed in Ghana that will allow for the establishment of trusts and company registration.

The Observer quoted Vince Cable, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, as saying: “Barclays seems to be the market leader in tax avoidance schemes and Ghana is a new name to add to the list. Unfortunately this is a very cynical way of doing business and I trust this will be noted by the government if ever they need to ask for cash.”

In the same Observer, Wilson Prichard, a member of the governance team at the Sussex University-based Institute of Development Studies, whose report on Ghana’s tax and development is due to be published later this month, said: “Oil-producing nations are plagued by corruption and drug trafficking and the creation of this international financial services centre will make this worse – not better.”

But Barclays claims that the creation of a tax haven in Ghana will be a source of high quality jobs and will encourage tourism and economic activity. The company said: “We adhere to the highest and most stringent levels of international regulation, rules and industry guidance for the financial services sector.”

It almost goes without saying that it would be criminally remiss for Africa and Nigeria in particular to look away while things of patently horrifying and outright criminal nature is being, literally, allowed to get out of hand in Ghana; firstly to allow the illegal-drug menace to fester into a major hub of illegal-drug transhipment, and secondly, to create a financial haven where the proceeds from such crime and political corruption would be freely laundered.

Ten years ago the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances placed the issue of the proceeds of crime on the world agenda.

Among the Convention’s most important and innovative provisions were those that sought to overcome banking and financial secrecy laws where they presented impediments to criminal investigations.

As I pointed out in Part 1, The issues of banking secrecy and financial havens in the context of the fight against money-laundering worldwide have been focused upon with a view to giving effect to the anti-money-laundering provisions of the Convention. While there has been a general trend towards enacting money-laundering laws that provide for the lifting of financial secrecy in appropriate cases, such secrecy remains a barrier in many jurisdictions, especially some of those that have come to be known as “financial havens”.

The proliferation of jurisdictions offering Safe havens, bank secrecy and confidentiality has done irreparable damage to Africa. The international scene has created a near perfect environment for the growth of money laundering and created obstacles for law enforcement agencies in their effort to tackle the menace.

We should not ignore the relationship between financial tax havens and money laundering or they are ignorant of the destructive consequences of money laundering to a national economy.

The fact is, the establishment of a financial tax haven in Ghana is not in Ghana’s long-term economic interest. The present leadership of Ghana might not be aware of what they are getting themselves into.

In criticising the use of Tax havens, UNDCP Technical Series noted that “What started as a business to service the needs of a privileged few has become an enormous hole in the international legal and fiscal system”.

What is the relationship between tax havens and money laundering?

The major money-laundering cases coming to light in recent years share a common feature: criminal organizations are making wide use of the opportunities offered by financial havens and offshore centres to launder criminal assets, thereby creating roadblocks to criminal investigations.

According to the UNDCP, Financial havens offer an extensive array of facilities to foreign investors who are unwilling to disclose the origin of their assets, from the registration of international business corporations (IBCs) or shell companies to the services of a number of offshore banks, which are not subject to control by regulatory authorities.

The difficulties for law enforcement agents are amplified by the fact that, in many cases, financial havens enforce very strict financial secrecy, effectively shielding foreign investigators from investigations and prosecutions from their home countries.

While bank secrecy and financial havens are distinct issues, they have in common both a legitimate purpose and a commercial justification. At the same time, they can offer unlimited protection to criminals when they are abused for the purpose of doing business at any cost.

The recent history of international money-laundering control makes it clear that the indiscriminate enforcement of bank secrecy laws, as well as the rapid development of financial havens, constitute serious obstacles to criminal investigations and jeopardize efforts undertaken by the international community since the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988 (the 1988 Convention), which first established money-laundering as a criminal offence.

The willingness of at least some offshore banking jurisdictions to encourage new financial institutions without imposing adequate safeguards or due diligence, a development characterized later in this study as the selling of sovereignty.

In short, bank secrecy and offshore banking offer multiple opportunities for money-laundering and various other criminal activities.

The UNDCP technical series reported that in the early and mid-1980s the Permanent Investigations Subcommittee of the Committee on Governmental Affairs in the United States Senate held a series of hearings on offshore banking and bank secrecy.

The chairman, Senator William Roth, noted that “we have repeatedly heard testimony about major narcotics traffickers and other criminals who use offshore institutions to launder their ill gotten profits or to hide them from the Internal Revenue Service”.

The report then concluded: Haven secrecy laws in an ever increasing number of cases prevent U.S. law enforcement officials from obtaining the evidence they need to convict U.S. criminals and recover illegal funds.

It added that “it would appear that the use of offshore haven secrecy laws is the glue that holds many U.S. criminal operations together”.

Little or nothing has changed in the last decade and a half; in fact, the situation has deteriorated with a much larger cast of characters now using offshore financial centres for criminal purposes.

The world of offshore financial centres and bank secrecy jurisdictions in the context of the control of money-laundering and financial crime looks at offshore financial centres and bank secrecy jurisdictions as facilitators of money-laundering and other forms of crime.

The western governments are no longer happy with it because it is a major conduit for tax evasion and have been taking serious actions is not to make their use illegal, to regulate them or to whittle their influence.

The OECD could now name and shame jurisdictions that do not comply with new rules on maintain the institution and The Financial Action Tax Force (FATF) blacklists them.

It is not for nothing that the only tax havens in existence are small, uninhabited islands with nothing to lose. They alone allow their jurisdictions to be used as tax havens.

Switzerland are moving away from, and closing such accounts today. The country is repenting and cleaning up their acts, to cleanse their banking systems and rejoin credible financial systems.

In the long run, for the economies that really want to develop, maintaining tax havens make little economic sense. Ghana is not a small Island of 10,000 people with nothing to lose in having a tax haven.

On May 4, the Associated Press reported that Obama announced plan to close tax haven loopholes: President Barack Obama proposed to raise taxes on the overseas profits of U.S. companies and to go after evaders who abuse offshore tax shelters.

But wait and see how he would be opposed in Congress, from the lobbyists of the major corporations; the main beneficiaries of tax havens.

Why would financial institutions seek out either small or failing state for the establishment of financial tax havens?

How does laundered money affect a country’s economy and business?

Firstly, the integrity of the banking and financial services marketplace depends heavily on the perception that it functions within a framework of high legal, professional and ethical standards. A reputation for integrity is the one of the most valuable assets of a financial institution.

If funds from criminal activity can be easily processed through a particular country or Institution – either because of a lax legislative framework, or its employees or directors have been bribed or because the institution turns a blind eye to the criminal nature of such funds – the institution could be drawn into active complicity with criminals and become part of the criminal network itself.

Evidence of such complicity will have a damaging effect on the attitudes of other financial intermediaries and of regulatory authorities, as well as ordinary customers. And moreover, such economies are blacklisted by the FATF.

Among the potential negative macroeconomic consequences of unchecked money laundering, one can cite: inexplicable changes in money demand, prudential risks to bank soundness, contamination effects on legal financial transactions, and increased volatility of international capital flows and exchange rates due to unanticipated cross-border asset transfers.

Also, as it rewards corruption and crime, successful money laundering damages the integrity of the entire society and undermines democracy and the rule of the law.

What influence does money laundering have on economic development?

As with the damaged integrity of an individual financial institution, there is a damping effect on foreign direct investment when a country’s commercial and financial sectors are perceived to be subject to the control and influence of organised crime.

Launderers are continuously looking for new routes for laundering their funds. Economies with growing or developing financial centres, but inadequate controls are particularly vulnerable as established financial centre countries implement comprehensive anti-money laundering regimes.

Barclays are seeking weaker jurisdictions because of comprehensive anti-money laundering regimes in existence in the UK and other parts of Europe.

Differences between national anti-money laundering systems will be exploited by launderers, who tend to move their networks to countries and financial systems with weak or ineffective countermeasures.

Some might argue that developing economies cannot afford to be too selective about the sources of capital they attract. But postponing action is dangerous. The more it is deferred, the more entrenched organised crime can become.

Fighting money laundering and terrorist financing is therefore a part of creating a business friendly environment which is a precondition for lasting economic development.

By Daniel Elombah (LLM)

NB: by Eze Eluchie, Esq

i. Some countries in Africa, particularly mine, Nigeria, have expressed indignation that you will be sidestepping them in your maiden visit to Africa. Not coming to some of them now, particularly Nigeria is a wise decision. Most governments expressing such outrage came into Office in bracingly corrupt manners witnessed by local and international election monitors and observers and in express disapproval of the citizens over whom they preside. Visiting such countries, at this onset, would have negated your vow in your inaugural address to stand by oppressed people wherever they might be. When we do begin to get our acts together in Nigeria, then surely you must have to come over and have a feel of the proverbial giant in the sun.                       

ii. Mr. President, Sir, I would like to finally point out that in writing the letter, I am not under the delusion that the contents of this letter will receive any greater understanding because it is from an African to the first African-American President. Far from it, I know that by your parentage, you are as white as you are black (no pun intended) and that by your upbringing, following from available records, you are actually more white than black. I however expect to get objective rationalization of the ideas propounded herein because I am writing to a man who has shown, thus far in his presidency of the world’s largest economy and bastion of democratic precepts, that he is willing to differ from age-old stereotypes that have tended to serve the interest of a few against the aspirations of million, a man who can thread previously inconceivable paths in his quest for truth and justice and a man who is ever willing to extend a hand of friendship where others who were before him built on inexplicable divisions.

My call to all Africans

This is the type of campaign that will liberate Africa, especially Nigeria. Nigerians should saturate White House switch-board (before Obama flies out to Africa) with phone calls and bombard the place with postcards urging the President to be tougher on African corrupt politicians and leadership. We should also embolden him to speak out more forcefully like he’s doing on Iran today. Africans needs Freedom and Liberty, not just the Iranians or the Iraqi’s or the Afghans.

We have in Africa, a situation where a tiny minority is holding the future of majority Hostage, Leaders with no conscience who stole their people’s dreams and disappears. Heartless souls who continue to live in the 20th Century……

Please, in any form, by any means necessary, let your voice be heard before the President visits the continent next month.

Anokute ,

New York, New York

Read also Barack Obama and the Corruption of African Leaders