The failure of state-controlled foreign aid

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By Adelowo OGUNTOLA

In the last two weeks, controversy trailed the whereabouts of five containers weighing two hundred [200] tonnes of date fruits shipped into this country by the Saudi Arabia government. The date fruits meant for the Internally Displaced Persons [IDP] in the country were diverted for another use: it was found in the market. Are you amazed? That is what Nigeria has turned to.

According to some speculations, the fruits were shared and distributed among Northern Emirs and some were sold. We robbed IDPs for the comfortability of the privileged few. The one percenter is truly holding the nation into ransom. It is in this nation that an ICT-based firm, JOSMAN Technologies Limited collected #203 Million for the removal of invasive plant species. We continue to produce more poor people but more criminals in this nation. Many foreign aids received by Nigeria from developed countries and International Organizations are mostly embezzled and siphoned by our leaders.

The huge aids from developed nations and international organizations had done little to change the development trajectories of poor countries. Experts are divided on the effectiveness of foreign aid. Jeffrey Sachs believes that foreign aid can bring in money when it is needed and this will in turn lift countries out of the poverty trap. However, the late Development economist, Peter Thomas Bauer, on the other hand, concludes that foreign aid, especially the state-controlled kind, is ineffective and possible damaging to recipient countries.

On December 5, 2001, Bonn Agreement was passed between leaders of the former Afghan mujahideen and the United Nations in Germany and it was intended to re-create the State of Afghanistan following the United States invasion of Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. After the fall of Afghanistan, the Bonn agreement allowed the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] of rebuilding Afghanistan. So Afghanistan started receiving large infusion of foreign aids. Billions of dollars were committed for the provision of essential services to the Afghans.

Lo and behold, the funds were siphoned and stolen by their leaders. Infrastructure was in deplorable condition, healthcare services in a comatose state and education was in shambles. The funds were spent lavishly.

Villagers in a remote district in the Central valley of Afghanistan heard a radio announcement about a new multimillion-dollar programme to restore shelter to their area. After a long while, a few wooden beams, carried by the trucking cartel of Ismail Khan, famous former warlord and member of the Afghan qgovernment, were delivered. But they were too big to be used for anything in the district and the villagers put them to the only possible use: firewood. So what had happened to the millions of dollars promised to the villagers? Of the promised money, 20 percent of it was taken as United Nations head office costs in Geneva, Switzerland. The remainder was subcontracted to an NGO, which took another 20 percent for its own head office costs in Brussels, Belgium, and so on, for another three layers, with each party taking approximately another 20 percent of what was remaining. The little money that reached Afghanistan was used to buy wood from Western Iran, and much of it was paid to Ismail Khan’s trucking cartel to cover the inflated transport prices. It was a bit of a miracle that those oversize wooden beams even arrived in the village.

The game of using foreign aid for personal use is not only limited to Afghanistan alone: it is highly prevalent in Sub-saharan African, South Asia, Caribbeans, Central America. The former Congolese President, Mobutu used foreign aid as an opportunity to enjoy luxurious and ostentatious lifestyle. While serving as the nation’s helmsman he became fabulously wealthy. All thanks to the great foreign support.

The sincere truth is that countries where aid is wasted and used for frivolities are countries with weak institutions and countries where aid can do some good are countries with strong institutions. The idea behind foreign aid is to fight disease, banish hunger and eliminate disease in underdeveloped nations but leadership of such nation always recognize it as an enviable opportunity to live large. Countries like Afghanistan are poor because of weak institutions which will not bring about sustained economic growth. The same institutional malaise will also make foreign aid to be ineffective.

Dear readers, kindly get my points right. I am not writing or stating categorically that there should be an end to foreign aid. No, that is not my position. If we stop aid, it will lead to additional human sufferings. My genuine opinion is that foreign aid especially the state-controlled one is not the only major solution to problem of poverty in Sub-saharan Africa, South Asia, Carribeans, Central America. We must build strong political and economic institutions.

AKURE CULT MASSACRE

The increasing cult-related activities in Akure lately is alarming. Akure is a city remarkably known for peaceful atmosphere.

It is highly disheartening, pathetic and shameful that the fraternities are taking over the historic town. Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu must roll up his sleeves and nip in the bud.

CLAUDIO BRAVO’S EFFECT

Claudio Bravo saved three penalties on [Wednesday, June 28, 2017] against Portugal to send Chile to Confederations Cup Final. He was fantastic and excellent in the Semi-Final game against the European Champion.

You will ask me where was this Claudio Bravo last season in Etihad Stadium? That is football!

Regards

Adelowo OGUNTOLA


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