Nigeria blooded British Member of Parliament Chuka Umunna has lend his voice to support a new campaign seeking to ban corrupt Nigerian politicians and officials and their families from travelling to the EU countries and decision to freeze all available accounts of such officials and their assets.
Mr Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham spoke during a meeting with the Citizens for Change, a UK registered charity made up of UK based Nigerian professionals at Portcullis House, the offices of the Houses of Parliament in London.
During an interactive meeting in London, Mr Umunna spoke of his disappointment at the state of affairs in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, reminiscing about the early 1990’s when the belief was that in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s release Nigeria and South Africa would be the drivers of Africa’s renaissance.
He laid the blame for this chronic under development on Nigeria’s corrupt leadership and stated that he planned to be a strong advocate for good governance and anti corruption in the House of Commons and to engage Ministers and colleagues on Her Majesty’s Governments policies towards Nigeria and to ensure corruption is expunged. He said corruption fight in Nigeria and Africa will form the core of his fight in the British Parliament.
The Chairman Board of Trustees of Citizens for Change Theodore Emiantor (a Registered Auditor from Edo State) congratulated Mr Umunna on his election and reiterated the pride all Nigerians felt at having one of their own in the ‘Mother of Parliaments’.
Mr Emiantor explained that Citizens for Change was dedicated to improving the welfare of people in Nigeria through community development projects and anti corruption/ good governance campaigns.
It was further stated that the key to resolving Nigeria’s problems were credible elections which informed the current campaign in which the group has written to the Home Secretary Theresa May, the US Office for Asset Control, the US State Department and Baroness Ashton the EU Foreign Minister requesting immediate travel bans and financial sanctions on all corrupt Nigerian politicians, their family members and agents. Olusegun Obasanjo (former President), Atiku Abubakar (former Vice President), Ibrahim Babangida (former head of State), Buba Marwa (High Commissioner to South Africa), Michael Andooaka (former Attorney General), Farida Waziri (current EFCC Chairman) and Dimeji Bankole (Speaker of the NASS) were named in the letter as prime examples for the travel ban and confistication of assets due to the unproven sources of their wealth all generated whilst in public office.
Further explaining their actions Chidi Nwaonu (an Engineer from Imo State) stated that the impunity with which these corrupt individuals operated took away all incentive for honest, competent people to contest elections or work in Government.
He also compared corruption in Nigeria to that in countries like Indonesia, where the dictators held onto economic and political power but still invested their loot in their own country’s infrastructure and economy whilst Nigeria politicians merely stole as much as possible and salted it away abroad thus a travel ban and asset freeze would force corrupt officials and their families to remain in Nigeria and endure the same conditions their actions cause for their fellow citizens.
Mr Umunna was in full support of the initiative and promised to support the effort as much as he could by further researching the Governments policies towards Nigeria and putting relevant questions to Ministers and Parliament, he shared his own personal experiences of Nigerian politics recounting the untimely death of his father after he narrowly lost a gubernatorial contest in Anambra state in the early 1990’s after he stood on an anti corruption ticket. He also cited the example of such professionals as Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who had left a lucrative job at the World Bank, worked hard and effectively as the Minster of Finance and left having made a positive impact with no stain upon her character. As the lively meeting ended Mr Umunna promised to work with and support Citizens for Change on future projects.