Must Nigerians Defend Illegal Arms Dealers?

Posted: September 21, 2014 in Corruption, Governance, Government, Institutions, Special Interest Groups
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We cannot reduce malfeasance to party politics or party propaganda alone in Nigeria or any nation on the planet, anonymous and faceless special interests play a bigger role. Military rulers as well as democratic politicians have all contributed abundantly to this disaster called Africa. Democracy is supposed to create far better results.

If we are to talk about mistakes made by the Nigerian government at home or overseas then that is mostly all we could credibly talk about. The issue here is of the $9.3 million arms deal scandal. It is not impressive for a President to complain that the army, navy or air force to which he is “Commander-In-Chief” is ill equipped or dysfunction; C-I-C is not a chieftaincy title but one fraught with great responsibility. To extend this complaint to the Boko Haram problem is even worse. What happened to the $50-100 billion Nigeria makes annually mostly from oil sales?

For a president or government officials to be directly linked with an illegal arms deal is unbecoming. There are defence trade protocols that enable ministers of defence, high ranking military officers, diplomats and military contractors to buy brand new or recycled military equipment and expertise. “Cash and carry” arms trade deals are necessarily illegal by these stringent protocols. That Western intelligence agencies orchestrate such deals does not make it right, hence the incredible secrecy involved. Arms trade expositions exist and arms sales / purchases are regularly featured in a nation’s ‘balance of trade’ statements when legally traded. Was this scandal another case of corruption whereby hardware bought for peanuts is charged at premium prices to the national account?

That Nigerian cash gets seized or impounded overseas in air-crafts, airports or bank accounts but mostly silently are both a fact and a regular occurrence. Those are monies that total sometimes in billions of dollars annually and are seized mostly by Western governments. The South African / Nigeria battle for continental supremacy has nothing to do with this scandal. Continental supremacy is based on what a nation produces, its technological base, economy, strategic significance etc. not seizing another nation’s money in air-crafts. The N2.8 billion (equivalent to $6 billion in today’s money) scandal about money seized by the Ugandan government of Idi Amin from the aircraft trafficking of money by the military government of Obasanjo was the first of its kind to go wrong; that was not a contest of African supremacy. During the Nigerian civil war a financier, Bernie Cornfeld, was the biggest trafficker of Nigerian money by aircraft for arms and deposits into foreign accounts on behalf of kleptocrats. It is an old story.

If Nigerians so choose they can continue to ride the political opinion wave of “nothing wrong was done” on the grounds of quasi-legality when any of the frequent scandals appears. But such never  fosters democracy. Legality and morality are not the same. If Nigeria remains a country the persists in doing things that are “legally right” but morally wrong because of politics and has a plurality of die-hard defenders of such, Nigeria as a nation and a democracy has no hope, whatsoever.

Grimot Nane

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