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Corruption in the Promised Land

No, it doesn't grow on corrupt ground...

Nigeria’s deep rooted corruption is well-known for depriving its own people of the basic necessities to survive. As a result, the majority of Nigerians are still under-employed, under-educated and under-fed. At the same time, the country offers over-generous opportunities to foreign companies which have slashed huge bites out of Africa’s economy. Nigeria especially is the ideal stomping ground for the likes of Shell, Exxon and Julius Burger -- these companies have even sanctified the country as the ‘holy, holy, holy Promised Land.’ Meanwhile, economic opportunity remains far out of reach for actual Nigerians.

Where is the US$15 billion in oil resources pumped out of its own ground? Where is the foreign aid packages of millions of dollars dumped on the country in the name of Millennium Development Goal? Does anyone ever sincerely ask these questions?

Take a look at the business enhancement programs in Nigeria for example. It was in July 2010, when Nigeria’s government offered loans and grants, and our Nigerian NGO, HFMCS took the opportunity and applied for a loan. This was after we bought a palm oil-expeller machine from India and land for a factory to produce palm oil in Uyo. According to the inspector on our case, we had the best chance of succeeding compared to other applicants. He promised us a loan of 5 million naira (approximately US$30,000) by January 2011.

Take heed, the Nigerian government’s promises mean absolutely nothing. This very same inspector demanded a bribe right after the inspection. Here was a shameless man without professionalism and integrity, simply taking advantage of us who already had big financial dent for machinery and land .

The loan was delayed endlessly with endless excuses given. In January 2011, a labor union strike reached nation-wide. Then came the elections in April, and riots broke out everywhere among PDP and other various political parties. During this waiting period for events, another government officer came to rob us with a stabbing message: “The loan payment will be delayed if you don’t pay a bribe!” Shockingly, we came to discover that those linked with high ranking officers in the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources were amassing the interests of the money reserved for the loan! Employees there knew but kept quiet. The more they extended the waiting period on the loan, the more money they’d rake in to line their pockets. In the end, we waited one and a half years to get our funding.

After a nerve ravaging waiting period, a series of empty promises and non-justified demands for bribes, my Nigerian partner was enraged and developed a violent personality. He locked me up and threatened my life so that he could force me to demand money from my 80-year-old mother in Japan. In October 2011, he was arrested by the Commissioner of Police in Uyo on charges of threats, mismanagement, forgery and violence.

In December 2011, a letter from the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources delivered the final blow informing us that the sum of 5 million naira was granted to our project--with even more demands never mentioned before; new assignment to find a guarantor and a certificate of land ownership involved more money, more time — and more bribes.

Upon my partner’s release from jail, a lawyers’ group called International Federation of Women Lawyers provided protection for my daughter and me, transferring us safely away from him. .

Today in August 2013, the palm oil expeller machine still lies unused in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state. If used properly, it could have produced Palm kernel oil worth US$8,000 profit per month, and certainly benefit the state at a large scale. How ironic, you might say. There are those who have bread but don’t know how to eat it. That is the very reason most Nigerians suffer in the midst of rich oil production.

How long will foreign aid organizations ignore Nigeria’s exploitation of its own people? Millions of tax-payers’ dollars have been handed over to the corrupt government without ever questioning its management. And wealth creating projects are buried alive on corrupt grounds. What Nigeria needs is not bread, but someone to teach them how to eat bread with sincerity and honesty.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous digital empowerment and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Loan Approval, ref no. MOA/AD/S/432/VOL.1/262 from Ministry of Agriculture, Uyo
Palm kernel oil expeller machine 10'x12' 1800kg still lies unused in Uyo

Comments

Vweta's picture

Spot On Hideko!

Corruption in high places, money changing hands for other money to change hands is the order of the day in Nigeria. It pains me to publicly admit this but it is the truth.

People in power and positions of authority do not care what happens tomorrow or even next year, they do not care about the benefits of effect and quality service delivery, they only bother about lining their pocket fat with bribes to enable them send their children to the best schools abroad while the country they pledged to protect and preserve keeps free-falling into a state of absolute poverty.

Most importantly, i am proud of the decision you made about your partner, and i am happy you and your daughter are safe!

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

Hideko N.'s picture

Vweta, we have a lot to do...

Investing money and time to bring a machinery, rent an office, cars, and buy land and keep on hearing government’s lies for more than one and a half year isn’t a joking matter. Obviously their best interest is not development or welfare of the people, but solely themselves. There was not much space to delve into many shocking realities. The damage was so huge that I cannot stand speaking about it calmly. Who bear all this cost?—My dear mother, to mention the least. My daughter is still at someone’s home, and her legal father is looking for her to kill her. She cries over the telephone asking me to get her every time.

No normal person can continue. Yes, you know now that I am severely tormented and survived. Just my short stay opened my eyes wide to terrifying stories of many women’s conditions, unbelievable realities in Nigeria.

My mind is set to support Nigerian women and children who suffer equally, or even more. Because the country I belong to is capable to do so. The battle is far from over.

Hideko N.
Support Women & Children in Nigeria (SWACIN)
Email: info@swacin.com
Web site: http://www.swacin.com https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
Visit our site and join us today!

Nakinti's picture

Thank you Hideko...a picture

Thank you Hideko...a picture painted with the right colours. That is Nigeria, Cameroon, and Africa for us!
Let's keep hoping.

Nakinti B. Nofuru
2013 VOF Correspondent
Reporter for Global Press Institute
Bamenda - Cameroon
Email: nakinti@globalpressinstitute.org
nakintin@yahoo.com

Hideko N.'s picture

Take advantage, it is the way to go!

Nakinti, let us not just speak about it but make strategies on how to resolve it. Because we have the Voice, we need to take advantage of the asset we have. Look at the huge international audience we may be able to connect to. Oh, I am not going to let them pass me by without doing something. It is the matter of our neighborhood on the same community called planet earth. One side has eaten a huge bite of economic wealth while the other side is getting all the bad lucks, torment, disaster, pollutions and poverty--aren’t God’s plan.

Let us make projects , my sister. From the Op-Ed above I made it clear that money and materials do not solve the core problems. It has to come from our mind and heart, our creativity; in other words, money will chase such projects, not the other way around.

Warmly,
Hideko N.
Support Women & Children in Nigeria (SWACIN)
Email: info@swacin.com
Web site: http://www.swacin.com https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
Visit our site and join us today!

Mukut's picture

Corruption is an evil enemy !

Corruption is like an evil enemy especially in developing countries. It is unfortunate to know that big money promised, did not reach the most needy.
I am happy to know that you and your daughter are safe and away from the corrupted partner.

You are a rising and shining example of Nigeria's woman leadership. Keep going.

Love,

Mukut Ray

Hideko N.'s picture

I am a living example of

I am a living example of seeing and tasting the corruption in depth. Mukut, yes we were saved by mercy of God. But the biggest blessing I believe is the position to be able to let my voice out without being threatened or harmed. I do not take it for granted, but use it at maximum. Apart from having my daughter, this is the greatest asset that God gave me (I did not realize before) in my entire life. To be able to empathize is another asset. When I ran NGO in India, and my level of interest in supporting people there were nominal—sorry, because I did not go through the terror of ‘being one of them.’ Being the part of Nigerian system and struggle with them made a huge difference in my thinking, attitude and overall actions against the wrongs. I may appear to be odd, but this is what I am. Oddity can be turned into positives.
In thanking,

Hideko N.
Support Women & Children in Nigeria (SWACIN)
Email: info@swacin.com
Web site: http://www.swacin.com https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
Visit our site and join us today!

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Well Done!

Dear Hideko,

Thank you for this strong, direct, highly-informative piece. Your analogy about the palm oil expelling machine and those who have bread but don't know how to eat it is excellent.

Many huge companies -- often American, unfortunately -- have taken gross advantage of developing countries, and this is another of those situations. I feel that this assignment should be copied to the CEOs of SHELL, EXXON, etc.; those unspeakably greedy, short-sighted people who do not care about the big picture, but strive only for immediate gratification.

So, I hear you! And I hope many others will hear you, too, especially those who need to listen the most.

With Appreciation,

Sarah

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby

Hideko N.'s picture

Oh my dear Sarah, I agree.

Oh my dear Sarah, I agree. We tend to feel that we are far away from the whole picture of what is happening in the world. But guess what? My mother, the other day, dropped by Shell and pumped her gasoline into her Nissan Wingroad! She is also the biggest victim of the incident written above. Are we not the ones encouraging those companies to continue the damages as well?

Hear this riddle: Long, long ago there were a big brother and a small one. The big brother having a huge oven to bake bread, sell big portions to the villagers while leaving only small crumbs to his little brother. And the small brother is always under-fed, unnourished. Do you think villagers should ignore or should do something to warn the big brother?
Warmly,
Hideko N.

Support Women & Children in Nigeria (SWACIN)
Email: info@swacin.com
Web site: http://www.swacin.com https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
Visit our site and join us today!

Greengirl's picture

Hideko...

I am convinced that you are a Nigerian by calling, and your interest in and passion for the country's progress is undeniable.

You have a deep insight into the many problems that is bedevilling my beloved country: Greed, Corruption, Personal interests, Injustice, Deprivation etc. It is a very pathetic situation which many Nigerians long to see brought to an end.

Please permit me to say that the masses in Nigeria know how to eat bread, but a Cabal made up a very small but powerful group stand between them and their God given bread. They prefer to share the bread with their foreign cohorts, who are all too willing to grab all they can.

I share your concerns and will continue to hope for the best. You did great, sharing from out of you first hand experience.

Hugs,
Greengirl

Hideko N.'s picture

Oh Wow WOW

I am Nigerian by calling! I am honored...In other words, I am like a trout which sails up the adverse circumstances?

It would have been far easier to join the foreign company exploiting the country, its people and stay quiet. I saw a fully intelligent and able man worked so hard without ever seeing the wages. After realizing the money was not forthcoming as promised, he was driven to commit crime as he had an underfed 5-year-old child and a pregnant wife. Staying on top in the safety zone may not be as safe if such injustice continues and people increasingly commit crime. He was one of the most intelligent man who would know how to eat bread but no resources were given him. Thank you for the heart-warming comment.

Delightfully,
Hideko N.

Iryna's picture

Learn, speak and fight

Hideko, corruption is an overwhelming evil. Here, in Ukraine, it is also one of the huuugest problems. It becomes so regular that people already cannot imagine to use some public service without "giving a present" and doing this they support corruption. How to fight against of this? It's difficult. We can speak a lot about transparency and democracy but in real we are far from them. We need to learn, speak, fight for our rights, first of all.
Your op-ed sounds very strong and actual.
Warm greetings,
Iryna

Hideko N.'s picture

I do welcome that question

I do welcome that question very much: How to fight against it? I say it is Journalism! Oh Iryna, let us take command in journalism to get our message across. It exposes the evil--true nature of what people thought was harmless. My colleagues in Nigeria thought that it is impossible to ever speak against the government for fear that she may be harmed. But let us remember: even those who are embedded by the corrupt government have the voice loud and clear being heard by all corners of the globe. I truely feel privileged, for being able to speak about it and being listened by the network of professional writers, journalists, activists and lawyers.

With All Appreciation,
Hideko

pelamutunzi's picture

interesting

Hideko thank you for bringing the issue of corruption out because in Zimbabwe this is the biggest problem impeding our development. The problem is very similar as funds meant for ordinary people end up being squandered by by officials. If you an ordinary person who doesn’t know anyone you have to pay to get something that you are entitled to. How can this scourge be stopped. We have an anti corruption commission and yet corruption levels are increasing. Even civil servants expect some money so that they save you quickly otherwise you can spent the whole day in an office with uninterested workers ignoring you. The police take bribes from motorists and even rapists to cov. Corruption is sickening and makes innocent people suffer whilst those with money have an unfair advantage all the time even when acquiring land.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Hideko N.'s picture

Thanks for the heart-warming

Thanks for the heart-warming message as always,Pelamutunzi, I did not know that Zimbabwe is the same way.

When you raise the voice against like corruption, trying to describe it with the shortest sentence with the clearest words possible that no one could be mistaken is helpful. Keeping yourself chaste as possible so that no one should find fault in you and attack you will save you. To say the least, speaking about wrongs of someone or entity in public requires you to arm yourself effectively, including to study the materials in depth. I have posted the evidence of documents and I have more to prove my points. I would suggest you that you do the same. Keep the record of conversations, items, meetings etc. for a period of time without even speaking about it. After sometime, when the time is right (you need to be very patient until the moment arrives) you bring the matter to the public. It is my way of starting my protest against it with my small capacity. Thanks to God, he never failed to give me the right time to present it.

With love and encouragement,
Hideko

busayo's picture

You have said it all!

You have said it all my dear sister, In Nigeria we are like the children of meat seller that are eating bones. We have the resources but corruptions in high places will not allow us to enjoy it. The poverty level is so serious that some are leaving below $1 per day. When our leader are seen abroad, it is as if all is well. Thank you for your interest in Nigeria, I have an NGO working with women and I have posted our latest activities in my journal recently http://worldpulse.com/node/76644
I will be so glad to partner with you in your work in NIgeria.

Warmest regards
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com
http://womeninspirationce.wix.com/widcng

Hideko N.'s picture

How I am glad you reach me

How I am glad you reach me out! Thank you for reading my piece and thank you for offering to work with me. I read your piece and you are doing wonderful things! Right now Japanese government is not allowing us to go any other state than Lagos and Abuja. But we will soon relocate--hopefully within this year-- our NGO to the U.S. which would allow us to come and see you with skill acquisition trainers and professionals. Please email me and inform me on how far your program is going, what facilities you have, the organization you work with so that I would write to U.S. fund organizations. Please keep in touch!

Hideko N.
Support Women & Children in Nigeria (SWACIN)
tel: +81 886 96 5417
http://www.swacin.com
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
email: info@swacin.com

delphine criscenzo's picture

Great insight!

Thank you Hideko for this powerful piece.
Your first hand experience could be felt all throughout the piece. I especially how you connected the financial struggles your family was experiencing with the corruption of governments. I also liked the fact that you made a direct connection between the financial struggles of your partner at the time and his violent behavior. Often we get exposed to the issues at the top but we are not made aware of how this affects families to their core.
Thank you for this important insight.
Good work,

Delphine Criscenzo

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you, Delphine. I am so

Thank you, Delphine. I am so encouraged, you don't know. My message intended was to tell how the corruption affected my entire family and disrupted, and drove my partner to be violent, --and to bring this issue to the readers as their own. Somewhat I felt I failed the readers ….until you said here that you got what I meant. Good writers can turn the distant reality to the vivid screaming truth through writings. It was a real challenge for me apart from that writing such scenario kept brining me back burning memories and caused a lot of pain. It was not an easy piece of cake.

I am a survivor.
Hidek N.

SWACIN
http://www.swacin.com
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

Sangita Thapa's picture

Corruption!

Corruption is very common here in Nepal as well, dear Hideko. And I’m not much surprised to see many developing countries facing the same fate- the marsh of corruption, which engulfs not only the resources of a country and deprives it of its spirited and potential people, discouraging them to do anything better; but renders it much more impoverished and helpless. The leaders and so-called top bureaucrats themselves are involved in corruption.

Im glad that you and your daughter are safe and I appreciate your courage to support the Nigerian women even after the torments that you bore. Keep up the high spirit and your kind intentions!

Hideko N.'s picture

Sangita, thank you for your

Sangita, thank you for your comment...the corruption nearly destroyed me and my family's life. Still my daughter is at someone else's home, very far from me. My mother bears the huge debts that my partner had forced her.

I trust this is better than waiting until the government to decide to make a change. Not only the Nigerian government, but international community allows the predicament casted on common Nigerian if foreign aids continue to reward the wrong-doing of the Nigerian government.

I believe this is my responsiblity as a writer to tell others with all my capacities.

God bless,
Hideko N.
http://www.swacin.com
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

jap21's picture

Hi Hideko

This is a great Op Ed. I am glad that us women have this platform to raise our voices against the evil of corruption. You have made it clear: Corruption is not a crime against the finances of the state, but it is a crime against the people instead. In this sense, corruption is really the motor of the rest of crimes in any country.

That being said, I find it too simple to talk just about corruption only. I think we must think outside the box. We need not to do the same, if we want different results, as Mr. Albert Einstein once said.

To do a different thing, we must engage in speaking differently. We must not give the corrupts the easy advantage of avoiding the laws, because they are there exactly to buy law officers and make them become corrupt.

For this reason, I think we must change the conversation in our societies. Bolivia has many problems in common with Nigeria, for what I was able to read in wikipedia. The common grounds of corruption are always nested on politicians, both left and right wingers, We need to speak out justice. We need to make the Good people speak justice. We need to sow the right words on the mouths of Good people. We need to work hard to change the conversation, and make the Good people strongly speak the right words.

For this, I use the internet and the new technologies. World Pulse gave me the tools, and I use them. I have been able to stop government violence (not by myself, but of course making thousands of peoples get involved in the conversation), and now I am after stopping the violence in the streets, which is closely related to government procedures.

I think this change in the conversation of every needy society, can be achieved when someone really interested in doing this, begins.

You have a calling. You are the right voice. Use it. Change the conversation in Nigeria, because I can assure you that millions of Good Nigerians are eager to follow you.

Go Hideko! Go!

In loving sisterhood,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Hideko N.'s picture

Oh, dear Jackie

You really get me going! I duly appreciate your bringing out the merit of my voice raised in the middle of corruption. The atmosphere there was filled with fear. Not only was I discouraged going to the Ministry, but also voicing never against the corruption while I was there, but if I didn’t who else will? All of my Nigerian counterparts would never raise their voices for fear of the government. They take it for granted that corruption is the normal course of process among the government. They are not in the safe place any way to voice against it, but I am. I am physically remote from them about a half way around the earth,12,000 miles now. Surely Nigerian government can never come after me and shoot me. (:-))

I feel sorry for those who are embedded in a society filled with corruption. I really admire you for your courage. Our organization is currently working on climate change, skill acquisition training, and corruption: You may find our projects below.
http://www.swacin.com
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin
We may find something to work together?

Thank you for all the wonderful things to say.
Hideko N.

Hideko N.'s picture

Oh, dear Jackie

You really get me going! I duly appreciate your bringing out the merit of my voice raised in the middle of corruption. I was depressed about this issue for long. The atmosphere there was filled with lots of fear. Not only was I discouraged going to the Ministry, but also voicing never against the corruption while I was there, but if I didn’t who else will? All of my Nigerian counterparts would never raise their voices for fear of the government. They take it for granted that corruption is the normal course of process among the government. They are not in the safe place any way to voice against it, but now I am. I am physically remote from them about a half way around the earth,12,000 miles since my returning home last year. Surely Nigerian government can never come after me and shoot me. (:-))

I feel sorry for those who are embedded in a society filled with corruption. I really admire you for your courage. Our organization is currently working on climate change and skill acquisition training. You will find them on our site below. Perhaps we may find something to work together?

http://www.swacin.com
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

God bless you for all the wonderful things to say,
Hideko N.

jap21's picture

Hi Hideko

I will review your page, but if you come up with something else first, please feel free to tell me. I would love to work with you. I just don´t have too much time, but there is always a way we can find.

I promise to get back to you next week, but if you feel something can be done before, please contact me.

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Hideko N.'s picture

I am very happy to have you

I am very happy to have you as a part of organization, if you are interested in assisting us with your voice and wisdom as a woman leader in your field. Indeed our members consisting of Nigerians and Japanese are not completely functional. For one, Japanese members have minimum knowledge on corruption and all other areas of African societies. Secondly, Nigerian members are too afraid to speak their heart for their safety. They are located in their country where the corruption is practiced on daily basis. If you are able to communicate with me through email please do so. Thank you very much for your kind interest.

Hideko N.
SWACIN
email: info@swacin.com survivalgadget@gmail.com
http://www.swacin.com
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

BUHENDWA NEEMA's picture

bien à vous

courage pour les information, il est vrai que le fait corruption sa fleche monte partout en afrique,mais en rd congo la coruption à un niveau trés élevè dans tout les domaine,est c'est ce qui fait couse ou source de manque d'emploi pour les uns, une fois reussir la lutte contre la pauvreté sa peut contribué au progré
merci!!!!

neema weza

Hideko N.'s picture

Thank you Neema for many

Thank you Neema for many messages. I am grateful that you are willing to support our NGO. Please send me email and use Google translater if you can so that your voice will be clearly heard by many people in the World Pulse. http://translate.google.com/

Hideko N.
SWACIN
email: info@swacin.com
http://www.swacin.com
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

BUHENDWA NEEMA's picture

bonjour madame!

je suis tout jour heureuse quand je vous écris et vous répliqué immédiatement,merci pour le courage manifesté à mon égard, voici mon adresse; buhendwaneema@gmail.com
chance à vous et à toute ta famille
merci!!

neema weza

Hideko N.'s picture

Merci pour remercier. Je suis

Merci pour remercier. Je suis sûr que les gens vont vous répondre si vous écrivez en anglais, mais pour certaines raisons, vous ne veux pas utiliser Google translator (http://translate.google.com/) je vous le suggérais précédemment. Pourquoi?
Hideko

Hideko N.'s picture

Merci pour remercier. Je suis

Merci pour remercier. Je suis sûr que les gens vont vous répondre si vous écrivez en anglais, mais pour certaines raisons, vous ne veux pas utiliser Google translator (http://translate.google.com/) je vous le suggérais précédemment. Pourquoi?
Hideko

Eileen Page's picture

Courageous Woman!

Hideko,
Your story is a powerful reflection of who you are and the values you hold. And what a massive issue to be revealing and taking on! Thank you for the insights - so many of us make donations and know they are lost in the system.

I encourage you to continue developing your vision and convert all the energy into positive action; others are already joining you... this is true leadership. How might you use technology to build direct relationships with donors or other creative and resourceful approaches to stretch the system?

I wish you well.

Kind regards
Eileen

Eileen

Hideko N.'s picture

Eileen, wow I am amazed. I

Eileen, wow I am amazed. I used to read Margaret Meade when I studied in Auckland University, NewZealand. It was only 3 months but that is when my vision started to develop--maybe about 20 years ago (?). Thank you for placing values on what I can offer. Most people around me think of me as untouchable, meaning that I am away from reality. Really I wish being with people, small groups of people to share visions and values but usually they are far and far away. It is ok for me now since someone like you sometimes comes to be and fill me with joy. Yeah, I use tech (skype, publisher, multi-media, google+, Adwords, paypal) with my small knowledge to raise fund and distribute newsletters around the world.

In Warmth
Hideko N.

http://www.swacin.com
https://www.facebook.com/Swacin

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