A security consultant made a joke during a private conversation that: ‘The fear of EFCC is the beginning of wisdom’. Obviously, politicians and moneybags are people of great wisdom, otherwise they would hardly be in the positions they are, or have the possessions they have. With the introduction of a Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy and Bank Verification Number (BVN), a new home-banking system came into practice. Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) can easily trace bank lodgements as well as projects financed therefrom, but even with smart sniffer dogs, it would be difficult to trace secret holes in the home-banking system.
From impregnable underground bunkers in private homes, to overhead water tanks, politicians, business tycoons and sponsors of political aspirants, adopt many clever ways and means of operating home-grown banking system. The role of king-size dogs in the security of private homes can easily be noticed both in urban cities and rural communities in Nigeria now. The dog-culture has become so trendy that the breeding of killer-dogs has become a lucrative business. One such dog can cost as much as N300,000 to buy and N30,000 to feed in one month. They cannot eat the rubbish that many of us consume daily as food.
So, the home-banking system is not a business engaged in by the hungry or ‘agbero’ class of citizens, neither is it adopted to spite conventional banks. In reality the game of bamboozlement, deceit and mendacity can hardly be successful if money does not pave and smoothen the way. With money and the cooperation of security agencies, including giant dogs, secrets can be kept secret and fingers pointed in the wrong direction in real politics.
The game of corruption is a game of the ruling class and it has to do with the mechanism of capitalist economy. Similarly, the game of money laundering is a global network, of which developing countries and their institutions are the preying grounds. The mind-set of the leadership of developing nations can be programmed to talk glibly about corruption as being the greatest plague of their nations, while the real problem lies elsewhere. While state institutions are deliberately weakened, a few individuals are often glamorised and strengthened, and some demonized.
Especially for an oil-producing nation, the political game employs the antics of name-calling, recrimination and creation of division among the political class, to divert attention away from the game of looting. Truly, the smartest beneficiaries of the looting game in oil-producing countries are the Western nations. Not only do financial institutions in developed nations receive, protect and trade with looted money from developing countries, they also provide consultancy services for top officials on how to launder money.
State institutions are deliberately made weak and unreliable through corrupt patronage and sinecure such that they are ineffective and corruption-ridden. The lop-sidedness in staff postings and deployment in public institutions can be so politicized that it can become dangerous for any patriotic official to raise alarm over obvious malpractices going on. Therefore, the mechanism of global capitalist economy goes by weakening of state institutions through political interferences in the bureaucracy of developing nations. The next strategy is interference in the electoral process to ensure that malleable leaders emerge whose mindset would be supportive to Western capitalist economy.
While calling the people of developing nations ‘fantastically corrupt’, Western nations, through their financial institutions, still encourage money laundering. Thus the global network of financial malpractices fuel corruption in developing nations, whereby the gap between the rich and the poor grows wider and wider. At the same time, the gap between the developed and developing nations also gets wider through abuses and ineffective management of the commonwealth.
With increasing exposure of the hypocrisy of Western banks and their financial institutions, foreign and local banks no longer provide safe havens for looted money by politicians and moneybags. The alternative is the resort to home-banking system, thanks to the activities of EFCC. Despite zero-cash policy and the services of Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), some Nigerians store huge sums of local and foreign currencies in personal vaults in their homes. Perhaps whistle-blowers can do some business, but they may also be risking their lives. Money has power!
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.