The scale of the task facing Tony Blair in his drive to help Africa was laid bare yesterday when it emerged that Nigeria's past rulers stole or misused £220 billion.ZenPundit alerted me to the news item last night with the droll comment, "Journalism gods smile on Pundita." It was his way of saying that my cautions about the Commission for Africa and views on widescale corruption in many governments had just received ample support.
That is as much as all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades. The looting of Africa's most populous country amounted to a sum equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent.
The figures, compiled by Nigeria's anti-corruption commission, provide dramatic evidence of the problems facing next month's summit in Gleneagles of the G8 group of wealthy countries which are under pressure to approve a programme of debt relief for Africa.
Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has spoken of a new Marshall Plan for Africa. But Nigeria's rulers have already pocketed the equivalent of six Marshall Plans. After that mass theft, two thirds of the country's 130 million people -- one in seven of the total African population -- live in abject poverty, a third is illiterate and 40 per cent have no safe water supply.
With more people and more natural resources than any other African country, Nigeria is the key to the continent's success. [...]
From the bottom of my heart, I wish that I wasn't so right on such issues. Yet the news article is all the more reason for Americans to learn about and support The International Integrity Standard.
Many readers might be stunned to learn that one of the greatest obstacles to fighting corruption is the simple reason that there exist no objective criteria for measuring it! The IIS seeks to remedy that situation. But the people who are battling hardest against anti-corruption drives are not the corrupt rulers; they are the 'legitimate' business concerns that profit from contracts made with the rulers.
Many people believe that any attempt to fight such corruption is doomed to fail. The task can seem impossible but realize it's never been tackled with any real energy. That's because there have only been half-hearted measures to fight it, and an unwillingness on the part of governments worldwide to squarely face the issue. All that is changing rapidly.
Paul Wolfowitz, in his capacity as World Bank President, has named corruption as a threat equal to Communism. That's a signal the American government has faced reality. From the publication of Nigeria's report on corruption in their government, clearly Nigeria's government has also finally faced reality. The rest of the world must do the same, if the organizers of Live8 and planned marches on the Gleneagles summit are serious about "saving Africa."