By Ugo Nwagwu
Earlier today, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron was caught on camera in a conversation with her Majesty, the Queen of England saying,
“We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain… Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, said he was “shocked” when told of the remarks.
This is a classic definition of a “gaffe”. The term gaffe often refers to a politician carelessly saying something publicly that they privately believe is true, but would ordinarily not say because it is potentially politically destructive.
Well, the fallout of such a remark is not likely to be significant, it has drawn a lot of comments from Nigerian from all over the globe. Some have even cited David Cameron’s implicit association with the Panama Papers (amid reports that his father opened a shell corporation for him) as reasons why his statements are hypocritical. Others have pointed to Transparency International’s 2015 corruption perception index which places Nigeria at 136 (the higher the number, the more corrupt you are in ranking among other countries).
Lost in the shuffle in large part is a comment, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made shortly after Cameron’s statement, “But this particular president is not corrupt… he’s trying very hard,” right before Speaker John Bercow said: “They are coming at their own expense, one assumes?”
The prime minister appeared to agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury indicating that Nigeria’s current president is working hard to fix the reputation, which was one of the anchors of his campaign for President. That mantra is widely attributed to bringing about the first party regime change since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.
There’s little doubt that every major player in Cameron’s statement comes out looking bad including Cameron himself. But maybe these are the kind of moments to should cause Nigeria and Nigerians to look in the mirror and work together towards fixing our reputation abroad and maybe the next time a comment like this is made, more people like the Archbishop will chime up in defense of the progress we have made.
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