Sunday, 3 February 2013

Obama, Cameron, G8 Leaders To Discuss Nigeria’s Controversial Oil Wealth Wastage


NIGERIA’S controversial management of its stupendous oil wealth over the years would form one of the important themes of discussion for G-8 leaders in June, when they meet in Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom, according to diplomatic sources.

Already, the presidency of the summit for this year under United Kingdom is currently reaching out to other G-8 leaders and an international consensus is said to be quietly formed to demand transparency from leaders and governments of developing countries, whose huge resources and wealth are being frittered away.
International donors, including private foundations and agencies, are also concerned about the perception of increasing wealth but decreasing living standards of the people.
For instance, US Billionaire, Bill Gates, in an interview during the week, said, “Nigeria really needs to think that, relative to its level of wealth, it is really far behind…”
The G8 Summit, which holds annually, is a gathering of presidents and prime ministers of the top eight advanced economies of the world — the US, UK, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Japan and Russia.
The Summit, which normally holds about the mid-year and focuses on global economy and socio-political issues, is presided over in turns by its eight-member-countries.
For 2013, UK holds the presidency and Prime Minister David Cameron is said to be forming the issues the summit should focus on this year.
Sources said before Prime Minister Cameron’s speech last week in Davos, where he made mention of Nigeria’s oil wealth and its management, he had intimated other G-8 leaders of the need for an agenda that brings such issues of financial accountability and transparency to the fore in a country like Nigeria.
A January 2 letter written by the British Prime Minister to all G-8 leaders, including US President Barack Obama, revealed that this year’s summit would stress trade advancement, tax compliance and transparency.
Nigeria’s example is said to be agitating the minds of the G8 leaders, just as there is controversy over the seeming squandering of past oil windfall.
After Cameroon wrote the other G8 leaders hinting on his intent to pursue the issue of transparency aggressively as president of the summit, he then proceeded early last week in Davos to publicly pin-point Nigeria as a case in point, where transparency issues have made some progress but corruption and mismanagement of huge oil wealth still continues to deny the nation’s people of their prosperity.
In a speech that has been so widely and globally received, Cameron said just last year alone “Nigeria oil exports were worth almost a hundred billion dollars. That is more than the total net aid to the whole of sub Saharan Africa. So put simply: unleashing the natural resources in these countries dwarfs anything aid can achieve, and transparency is absolutely critical to that end.”
He went on to say the G8, under his presidency, would be more aggressive on how governments of such countries like Nigeria spend the money from such huge returns, declaring that the western and Japan’s leaders are “going to push for more transparency on who owns companies; on who’s buying up land and for what purpose; on how governments spend their money; on how gas, oil and mining companies operate; and on who is hiding stolen assets and how we recover and return them.
“Like everything else in this G8, the ambitions are big and I make no apology for that.”
According to Cameron, who said he had no apology for his stance, “I want this G8 to lead a big push for transparency across the developing world, and to illustrate why. Let me give you one example. A few years back a transparency initiative exposed a huge hole in Nigeria’s finances, an $800 million discrepancy between what companies were paying and what the government was receiving for oil - a massive, massive gap.

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