You have openly, and presumably diplomatically, condemned corruption in the country, During your August 2009 visit to Nigeria, you made overt references to the fact that Nigeria’s problems are rooted in its failure to deal with corruption.
Just today, while addressing state department employees during a town hall meeting, you again seized the opportunity to tell the whole world about Nigeria’s failure to address the legitimate needs of its people and how such failure is gradually turning the country into a breeding ground for all sorts of undesirable elements. On behalf of millions of Nigerians, I thank you and the Obama administration profoundly for the above efforts. However, there is so much more to be done.
More than ever before, there is an urgent need to increase the pressure on Nigeria’s corrupt-beyond-redemption political class in order to prevent a total breakdown of law and order and possible civil war. If U.S. diplomatic history provides any clue with respect to conflict resolution, it is that a break down of law and order in Nigeria will force the US to make gargantuan human and material commitment to Nigeria and the Sub-region: a situation that is unnecessary in light of the options available, a situation that neither ordinary Nigerians nor the United States want; a situation that would create a refugee problem of a magnitude not seen in recent human history and be destabilizing to West African, European and North American countries.
In order to prevent Nigeria from descending into a civil war or several civil wars as is more likely to happen because of the country’s ethnic and tribal configuration, urgent steps must be taken to effect immediate and long term changes in the country. Nigeria is where it is today mainly because of the “elements” in charge of the country and their devious device which they have christened government. Permit me to suggest we are requesting the urgent assistance of the Obama administration in putting in place a no-visa list consisting of Nigeria’s leading government officials and their private sector collaborators. The no-visa list should at the very minimum contain the following:
• The country’s current leader (whoever that is) should be limited to the United Nations and Harlem the way Fidel Castro was during his 1960 visit;
• all past leaders and governors;
• all current state governors with the exception of one or two who are doing their jobs;
• all past and current federal ministers and state commissioners;
• all past and present lawmakers at the federal and state levels
• all past and current local government chairmen/chairlady and the elected councilors who assist them in looting their respective treasuries;
• past and present managers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and other leading government corporations;
• past and present MD/CEO’s of all banks in the country;
• all past and present ambassadors of the country for their roles as agents of an evil regime;
• all previous and present police and military officers beyond the rank of Major or its equivalent;
• all judges from the magistrate courts to the Supreme Court of Nigeria for their roles in accepting bribes and perverting the course of justice;
• the present chairperson of the EFCC for her role in legitimizing corruption;
• the children and wives of those on the no-visa list;
• all known enablers of corruption not caught by the above list.
A serious consideration of the above list will show that 99.99% of the individuals who have destroyed Nigeria and stolen the people’s commonwealth will be found on the list. Having them on the no-visa list hurts no one but the crooks themselves. I believe in the list and given the power to implement it, it is exactly what I will have in place. Realizing that I do not have the power to implement the list and given other considerations, the above list maybe unwieldy and may lose the desired effect. Consequently, I will suggest a more pragmatic list made up of the following:
• Umaru Yar Adua and Goodluck Jonathan;
• all the current governors
• immediate past president and governors, especially those indicted or convicted for corruption (i.e. Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, Lucky Igbinedion, Orji Kalu, Peter Odili, and James Ibori – ignore the Kangaroo court discharge);
• all current federal ministers and state commissioners, particularly, Michael Aondoakaa, Dora Akunyili, Ojo Madueke and Rilwani Lukeman;
• all current senior officers of the police and armed forces
• all current managers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria and other leading government corporations;
• Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Dahiru Mangal and all Nigerian billionaires because there is no legitimate Nigerian billionaire (those who want to argue their cases should be asked to submit their income tax returns for examination);
• The judges and justices of the Federal, Appeal and Supreme Courts for their roles in accepting bribes and perverting the course of justice;
• The current chairperson of the EFCC, Farida Waziri;
• The current officers of the National Assembly, including the David Mark, Dimeji Bankole and Jubril Aminu who has been indicted in the Siemens bribery scandal but is still angling to become the vice president in the event Goodluck Jonathan becomes the president of the country;
• The chairpersons of all the banks indicted by the Central Bank of Nigeria, including Cecilia Ibru and the coward called Erasmus Akingbola who claims to have accumulated assets of over $2 billion (N322 billion) dollars with a monthly salary of $10,000 (N1.5 million). An eye should also be kept on below-rader crooks like Chukwuma Saludo – former Central Bank governor, Jim Ovia of Zenith Bank and Tony Elumelu of Uba who are just as corrupt as the indicted ones;
• Some traditional rulers and pastors for their roles in providing recognition to corrupt politicians in exchange for part of the looted funds;
• Including Journalists who have sold their souls in exchange for Abuja land and other pecuniary benefits will force them to return to their basic responsibility of holding government accountable to the people;
• The children and wives of all those on the list because they school and live in the west with monies looted from the ordinary people of Nigeria;
This list is not exhaustive and no such claim is being made here. I have included in the list those I have been able to remember. There are few individuals on the above list who have demonstrated over the years that they are not corrupt and those individuals should be exempted. These individuals are not difficult to know, Nigerians know them and the US should have no problem in exempting them from the no-visa list.
Once again, the average Nigerian will agree with the US government that the individuals on the above list are the reasons why Nigeria has been on its knees since independence and any restriction of their abilities to trot the globe will reduce their money laundering abilities, their bloated sense of importance and arrogance lacking of empirical support. It will also limit their ability to travel overseas on holidays or medical treatment when they have destroyed hospitals in their own country – Ghana will benefit from increased tourism from this group of Nigerians!
Thankfully, I do not have to convince you about the efficacy of a no-visa list. The US and Britain have demonstrated that having politicians on a no-visa list is an effective tool in the reform of institutions and the fight against corruption, hence these governments’ decision to employ it against Kenyan politicians who refused to support reforms. In creating the US, and hopefully British no-visa list for Nigerian politicians specific accomplishments like support for the passage of genuine election reform laws, Freedom of Information Act, Whistle Blower law that will involve Nigerians in the war against corruption and compensate them for exposing corruption and a genuine war against corruption and election rigging should be attached as conditions for reconsideration.
In case you are wondering why I believe blacklisting Nigerian politicians will do the magic that nothing else has been able to do since independence, below are my reasons:
• Despite their public ranting, most present day Nigerian politicians are cowards; who when faced with the slightest threat to their vaunted sense of self-importance and life of luxury will be prepared to sell their parents for pennies – do what is necessary - to maintain their status quo;
• Flying to US, London or other European countries for vacation or medical treatment is a status symbol for the country’s corrupt politicians and their family members. Depriving them of this ability to show-off to the victims of their crimes (ordinary Nigerians) will force a rethink on their part;
• Nigerian politicians make thousands of unnecessary trips to the US, Canada and Europe every year supposedly to attend conferences. These conferences do not benefit Nigerians because Nigerian politicians are not interested in learning how to run a good government, the very antithesis of their modus operandi. Some of the politicians, if they ever show up at the conferences, do not have a good enough command of the English language to understand the discussions and the others do not even bother to show up. But they all remember one thing and that is to create fake hotel invoices after staying with friends, add to them other dubious and padded expenses and submit to the government for payment. Those who are in charge of payment do not question the figures because they get a cut from it. The above will not happen if the politicians cannot travel to the US, Canada and Europe;
• Nigerian politicians often use official trips to the US, Canada and Europe as covers for moving looted public funds into foreign countries and into legitimate businesses and the banking system (sometime in 2006 the US government seized $170,000.00 belonging to Andy Uba, an ordinary adviser on domestic affairs to then president Obasanjo). Andy Uba who was broke and almost destitute in California before May 1999 smuggled the money into the US aboard the presidential plane). Denying them visas will make it difficult for them to practice their trade;
• Nigerian politicians spend a lot of the money they steal buying lavish mansions in the US, Canada and England. Depriving them of the ability to travel will ensure that they can no longer enjoy these mansions;
• Denying visas to the children of those on the no-visa list will ensure that their children will be unable to spend looted funds attending the best universities in the US, Canada and Europe, while their parents have ensured millions of Nigerian students are either at home due to strikes over unpaid salaries or forced to take lectures in classrooms with leaky roofs. Almost everyone on the above list have their children schooling in the US, Canada and Europe with looted public funds, some of which were meant to fix, upgrade or operate local academic institutions (the minister of Education, Sam Egwu, spent N50 million of stolen funds to celebrate his birthday at a time when Nigerian students had been at home for months and wished him dead);
• Denial of visas to those on the no-visa list will force some of them to keep their looted funds closer to Nigeria for easier detection or risk being duped by intermediaries (thieves often do not trust thieves because they often dupe each other).
• Depriving indicted and convicted politicians of visas will better reflect the American and western concept of equal treatment. Ordinary Nigerians indicted of petty crimes or with criminal records cannot obtain US or European visas, yet politicians who have stolen billions from those they were supposed to lead obtain visas and travel to the US and London frequently without qualms. One is sometime tempted to join those who say the US does not care how a Nigerian politician got his money as long as it benefits the US economy. Orji Uzor Kalu, the immediate past governor of Abia state recently granted Nigerian newspapers an interview from London, England regarding the disappearance of Yar Adua. Yet, this individual is facing trial in Nigeria for stealing over N2 billion naira;
• Including bankers on the list until they put in place transparent and auditable measures to combat corruption will hasten the implementation and enforcement of anti-money laundering programs and force investors into seeking out honest bankers to lead their banks and take charge of their investments;
• The selective inclusion of politicians and their civilian collaborators on the no- visa list will reduce their prestige and influence within the Nigerian polity and create breathing space for the few who will work for the good of the country if the proper environment is allowed to exist. It will deny the corrupt of solidarity while enhancing the reputation of the minors who may not have crossed the Rubicon or point of no return in their involvement with corruption;
Madam Secretary, I can go on and on about the benefits of a no-visa list for Nigerian politicians and their collaborators but I do not think I need to do so because your government is already employing this technique in a less corrupt society like Kenya where the level of corruption is a child play compared to Nigeria. I have tried to highlight the benefits of it in the Nigerian context and I am confident that your office will give this request the due consideration is deserves. It should be borne in mind that in the event of war, the whole world is going to find it very difficult containing a nation of about 150 million people with over 250 different languages and a complicated web of tribal preferences.
I will end by thanking you for your anticipated co-operation in this matter.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
US Secretary of State
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington Dc 20520
US Committee on Foreign Relations
446 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6225
Russell D. Feingold
US Senate Committee on African Affairs
United States Senate