With Cameron planning to increase foreign aid, it may come as no surprise that foreign powers do not always put the money to good use to benefit the people.
In a report in the Daily Mail, it is claimed that Britain will give Nigeria an estimated £1.14 billion in aid over the course of the coalition government being in power.
Nigeria will receive in the region of £300 million in aid this year, with much of that going on the salaries of corrupt government officials – and a Nigerian space programme!
Legislators in Nigeria have the highest salaries in the world, with a basic wage of £122,000 per year, while 70% of Nigerians live below the poverty line of £1.29 per day.
The population of Nigeria is 170 million, and in theory, the country should be prosperous, with crude oil reserves of an estimated 35 billion barrels, and more than 100 trillion feet of natural gas. Even so, the country has chronic fuel shortages because of the lack of refining capacity.
As the infrastructure of Nigeria continues to fail, the ‘elite’ enjoy homes around the world, luxury cars and other trappings of fortune.
Corruption in Nigeria is endemic — from parents bribing teachers to get hold of exam papers for their children through clerks handed ‘dash’ money to get round the country’s stifling bureaucracy to policemen taking money for turning a blind eye.
It is at its most blatant, perhaps, in the oil industry, where 136 million barrels of crude oil worth $11 billion (£7.79 billion) were illegally siphoned off in just two years from 2009 to 2011, while hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies were given to fuel merchants to deliver petrol that never materialised.
It is estimated that since 1960, about $380 billion (£245 billion) of government money has been stolen — almost the total sum Nigeria has received in foreign aid.
Nigeria is spending millions on its space programme, and the first Nigerian astronauts are being trained to join Russian, Chinese, or American space missions within the next two years.
The Nigerian space programme started in 2003, and it now has 3 of its own satellites in orbit which were launched on Russian rockets. Their first attempt failed when their satellite lost power and disappeared. Nigeria hopes to build its own spacecraft by 2028, and had invested heavily in research and production laboratories.
Transparency International produced a financial corruption scale, and Nigeria came in at position 172 out of 215 nations surveyed – just ahead of Haiti and Congo.
Wasteful British aid to Nigeria will increase by 116 per cent under the Coalition government, from £141million in 2010/11 to £305million in 2014/15.
The Department for International Development’s budget is rising by 35 per cent in real terms by 2015. But while aid costs are ballooning, spending on the military, the police, border control and care homes is being slashed.
The Public Accounts Committee has been highly critical of the amount of money the Department for International Development wastes on Consultants and dubious projects through multilateral organisations where it has little or no control over how the money is spent.
Camron pledged to increase foreign aid to £12 billion a year, equivalent to a massive 0.07% of the UK’s national income, even though he is fully aware that much of that money will be wasted or stolen. Cameron is so dogmatic that he has proposed writing spending 0.07% of the national income on foreign aid into law, despite evidence and advice that this would be a costly and very foolish move.
Ruth Porter, of the Institute of Economic Affairs think tank, said: “The Government should abandon any idea of enshrining the 0.7 per cent target in law. The figure is arbitrary and there is clear evidence that in many cases aid makes situations worse, not better.”
This year’s foreign aid cost is estimated to be £11.3 billion, the majority of which will be managed through the incompetent Department for International development.
Prof Philip Booth, Editorial Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs, commented ahead of the UN development conference held in February of this year “In Africa, aid is a side-show at best and damaging at worst. Poverty is falling in the region due to a reduction in conflict and the emergence – in some parts of the continent – of more stable democracies. The rapid reduction in poverty experienced in both India and China demonstrate that it is not development aid and international action but home-grown policies to promote economic liberalisation which succeed.
“The role for international action is limited. A self-appointed political elite is clearly not best placed to dictate development priorities to other countries. Rather than providing foreign aid, we should be gently encouraging and assisting poor countries to develop the basic economic, legal and institutional frameworks to allow business and enterprise to flourish.”
Of course, Professor Booth is correct. It is no good to anyone (except the ruling elite) to give handfuls of cash with no enforceable or realistic way of making sure the money is spent to the benefit of the citizens of a country.
It is unacceptable waste on a massive scale – and all because of the whim of one idiot – Cameron, who refuses to listen to advice or take into account the extensive evidence that foreign aid is mostly money wasted.
To make a REAL difference to countries who do need assistance, the government should concentrate their efforts on making those countries become financially self-sufficient, through helping them develop their economies for the good of their citizens.
Giving countries like Nigeria enormous amounts of cash so the elite can live lives of luxury and engage in space fantasies is not what foreign aid is for.
If anything, foreign aid should be dramatically reduced, and specifically targeted at countries with real need and the ability to engage in programmes of economy building, or who need emergency humanitarian aid – which should be strictly implemented and managed.
The delusional belief that increasing foreign aid without efficient controls in place will make any difference is ridiculous in the extreme – especially at a time when the UK is going through a time where the government are targeting the vulnerable and poor to squeeze the last penny from those who can ill afford it – to fund unnecessary space programmes and a life of luxury for the corrupt.