In 2010, WikiLeaks cables revealed that the Anglo-Dutch company Shell had infiltrated all levels of the Nigerian government with paid agents who shared all governmental documents and policy projects with the company.
Shell’s vice-president at the time, Ann Pickard, boasted to the US diplomats that her company knew “everything that was being done in those ministries”.
Among other revelations, Pickard said that Shell had obtained a letter showing that the Nigerian government had invited bids for oil concessions from China. She was amused that the Nigerian minister of state for petroleum resources of the time, Odein Ajumogobia, had denied the letter had been sent, and told the US diplomats that Shell had copies of similar correspondences with China and Russia.
According to Celestine Akpobari of Social Action Nigeria, an organization working for the betterment of Nigerian people’s lives: “Shell is everywhere. They have an eye and an ear in every ministry of Nigeria. They have people on the payroll in every community, which is why they get away with everything. They are more powerful than the Nigerian government.”
All this is possible because thousands of Nigerians are ready to sell their country for personal gain.
Beyond Nigeria, all over the African continent, many Africans are also ready to betray their brothers and sisters in exchange for money, token awards, and celebrity status.
This willingness to side with the lowest or highest bidder, regardless of the impact on their country or community, is one of the biggest difficulties we face as a community.
In 2008, Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz bribed the wife of the former Guinean president Lansane Conté with French perfume, iPhones, and little bit of money, $3 million, to get mining right to the world’s biggest untapped iron-ore deposit for only $170 million.
Once secured, and regardless of accusation of bribery, Steinmetz would proceed to sell, two years later, a 51% share of the rights to the Brazilian mining giant Vale for $2.5 billion, 14 times the initial cost.
In 2014, the current Guinean President Alpha Condé would void hundreds of mining permits, but litigations are still pending and would cost the country time and money in numerous courts.
In 1963, $572 dollars were enough bounty for Togolese army Sergeant Eyadema Gnassigngbe to kill the first elected president of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio, in a coup backed by France.
At the North Delegates’ Lounge in New York at the United Nations, when critical votes are on the table, the horde of prostitute diplomats who are ready to sell their votes or endorsements are actively sought out among the African representatives and embassies.
The director of an international organization I have close knowledge of used, on many occasions, to grant scholarships to the kids of African diplomats and finance fake development projects to secure African representatives vote for his agenda, regardless of the agenda effect on the countries of those representatives.
In many West Africans capitals, with amount as small as $5000, you can corrupt high-level governmental agents to side with your project, regardless of the final impact on their country.
Even when you look at high-profile characters like Mandela and the ANC leadership, their surprising and sudden celebrity status came from betraying the 1955 Freedom Charter their organization initially fought for.
Today, millions of young Africans are called by the Western medias and governments to follow the example of Mandela, which means to betray their own people’s demands in order to be patronized and sponsored by foreign interests, regardless of the impact on their own community.
There is even a Mandela foundation and fellowship program started by the United States’ government to train new generation of “Mandelas”.
The easiness with which one can corrupt almost 100% of our public servants and elite constitutes a real threat to the African Renaissance we all wish for.
We could that the betrayal syndrome is not all the fault of the people. The biggest issue is that African citizens have no idea who are our countries’ enemies, what are our national interests, what are the red lines no citizen should cross.
In comparison, every year, the most powerful nation in the world, the United States of America, makes a list of their enemies: enemy countries, enemy private and public organizations, enemy non-profit organizations, individual enemies, and also a list of the main threats to their national security.
Last year, the list put China as the most dangerous enemy country of the United States, along with other countries like Iran, North Korea, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. There are about 100 nonprofit organizations on the American list of enemy organizations or terrorists groups. There is also a list of enemy individuals, who are therefore banned to enter the American territory.
For example, current Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi was denied in 2005 a diplomatic A-2 visa to the United States. In addition, the B-1/B-2 visa that had previously been granted to him was revoked, for reasons only known to the United States.
In April 2014, Hamid Aboutalebi, an Iranian envoy to the United Nations, was denied a visa to enter the United States because of his role as a translator for the militants who stormed the American embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held American citizens hostage. The US keeps records, has a long memory and does not forget to punish.
Finally, every year, through various and sophisticated media networks, the US government informs their citizens about the enemies, why they are on the radar, and also enlist the people’s support to deal with external threats: NGOs, banks, press, companies, agents, and even mainstream individuals are mobilized to deal with whatever they consider as enemy.
Without that mass education, we would still be vulnerable to foreign intrusion, corruption and destabilization here in Africa.