Nigeria is a Country of riddles and Jokes. There has never been a dull moment. We have innate capacity to amuse one another. No wonder we are classified as one of the happiest people on Earth. Someone had asked if me I so much hate Nigeria, my response had been and still, if after sixteen years of having exposure to international arena if I hate this Nation I will not be here again.
But that is by the way. We have listened to several arguments put forward by both sides of the divide on how and why Nigeria should engage in the botched $9.3 Millions Arms deal in South Africa.For those who support government, it was said that there was nothing bad in such transaction. This kind of transaction in security environment is often called ‘Black market deal’. They claimed this is acceptable internationally. It was supposed to be an exchange between a dealer and the buyer without any noise.
They claimed also Nigerians need not know as this kind of deals are carried out in crisis and war situation that Nigeria find itself now. In addition, given the claim that there is an invisible hand (nation) whose interest must be protected. They have pointed to United States Of America as this finger which had refused and blocked every effort of the Nigeria government to procure arms. United States Of America has been said to have something to gain in Nigeria procuring arms because of a selfish reason. USA wants its prediction that there would no Nigeria by 2015 to come to pass. Thereby it want to exposure Nigeria Army’s inefficiency around the globe. Without sophisticated arms, Nigeria Army will not be able to capture the insurgents.
Quite a huge allegation ordinary citizens may not be able to get to its root till eternity comes. Since Nigeria government has made this allegation, United States of America or any of Its Agencies has not spoken a word either to confirm or refute it. The argument then is if the ideal process of buying Arms in the International market had failed or were ‘supposedly’ blocked by this invisible hand, nothing stops Nigeria from taking the alternative route.
This route is to carry the money in a raw cash to a sister Country in Africa – South Africa. The sum of which is Nine Million, Three Hundred Thousand ($9.3M) US Dollars. Government supporters also see South Africa has a betrayer of a sort by arresting the two Nigerians and freezing the Money with the Asset Forfeiture Units of National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa. South Africa had come out to say certain protocols were breached like technical details of the security, flawed and discrepancies in Nigeria Government explanations.
The other school of thought also argued there are lots of illegal stuff is in this arms deal. One, why was it that all the details, security, international and diplomatic communications were not fully discussed before such huge Money was ‘moved out of the Country?. Why was it that it took Government two to three days to own up to the deal? Why was it that a Private Jet of a highly placed religious leader and head of a Christian body in Nigeria was used instead of one of the eleven Presidential fleets or why was none of the Military Aircraft not suitable for this this deal?
They also asked if this huge sum of money was budgeted for or it will be part of the over One Billion security fund being requested for approval from the National Assembly by the Presidency? But if we are to follow the ‘Black market theory’ posited by the other group is anything to go by, Nigerians should not expect explanations on this. Confusion and counter arguments continue to reign supreme here. What Nigerians have been told was that the issue will be resolved diplomatically. In fact we heard the Private Jet has been released. We have been told through grave vine also that South African Authority is still holding the ‘alleged money’ in its custody. What happened to the two Nigerians involved and an Israeli who initiated or ‘moved’ the money from Abuja Airport to South Africa is still kept in secrecy.
The issue involved here are:
Do we often consider the image of the Country and its Citizens: if truly this deal is acceptable in the international arena, why was it difficult to follow necessary precautions? Who and who are supposed to be the initiator of this deal? Do they have the backing of the government as claimed? Why was South African government and its Airport Security operatives not properly briefed before they set out on this journey? Why is necessary protocols breached since this Is supposed to be a legal deal? More also, we know certain diplomatic dispatches are freed from scrutiny, why was this not the same case with the bags that contained the alleged money?
This and many questions are begging for answer. This has also worsen the already fragile image of Nigeria also and Nigerians abroad. The common notion Is that average Nigerian is a Money laundered and corrupt. No wonder one is subjected to abnormal scrutiny at International Airport. Average Nigerian is seen as suspect especially if the individual is looking all together well dressed.
Inconsistency in information flow destroys trust: One of the biggest challenges Nigeria government has is information management and double speak. It is obvious Nigerian Government is not enjoying any level of trust from its internal audience. People feel this is another corrupt deal gone sour.Nigeria in this instance should have rallied round its government and call the bluff of United States of America even if the claim was not true. But in the past, the double speak, lying and deliberate falsehood of government and its SpokeSpersons had rubbished whatever integrity the government can lay claim to.
Why break international protocols and regulations: Nigeria and other Countries in Africa had signed a Money laundering Act which for bides carrying cash to the tune of Ten Thousand US Dollars. If there is an agreed international deals which allows government and its deal breaker to carry above that sum, why did government not follow the rules of the game? Nigeria now operate a cashless Policy where an individual and corporate organizations have cash limit. Why is it so easy for government officials to break the law but citizens are punished beyond measure when they commit insignificant offence?