India’s corruption ‘gurus’ ruining Nigeria

Salisu Suleiman editor of Nigeria Intel writes about corrupt Indians looting & ruining Nigerian economy in his article: Nigerian Corruption: the Indian Connection

The Dana Air flight from Abuja to Lagos crashed a few km to the airport with over 150 people on board

When we think of politicians and public officials who looted (and are still looting) hundreds of billions of dollars from the Nigerian public treasury, what usually comes to mind are numbered Swiss bank accounts and ultra-secret deposits in the Caymans and Bahamas. We imagine assets and investments in England, the United States, Dubai and Europe.

Less known destinations for Nigerian loot include South Africa, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. More recently, looted funds from Nigeria have been traced to Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil and China. But how does stolen money leave Nigeria? Who are the middlemen and agents helping to fleece our country in what is clearly the most blatant capital flight from Africa?

Welcome, Indians. Many people now think of India mostly in terms of the country’s economic successes and technological advances. With a billion people and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India has become a major power. From one of the poorest countries on Earth, the world’s largest democracy has projected itself unto the global scene. In what can be viewed as reverse-colonialism, Indian businesses have taken over several notable British icons and businesses. And for what it is worth, some of the most valuable franchises and real estate in the British Isles are now owned by Indians.

But what is the downside to India’s remarkable successes? Is there more to it than meets the eye? The truth is, despite India’s remarkable achievements, the country remains very corrupt. And because of its vast business and trade links with Nigeria, some of those unorthodox methods are compounding Nigeria’s already hopeless culture of corruption. When Indian corruption and Nigerian corruption meet, the outcome can be devastating.

Since the Dana Air flight, which killed over 150 people on board and an unknown number on the ground, much attention has been focused on the Indian owners of the company. Allegations that the aircraft was not airworthy have emerged. Though the company has denied it, an official was quoted as saying the plane had technical problems and was not fit to fly. For those who know Nigeria well, if a bribe was all that was needed to certify the plane as airworthy, then the required signatures would have been obtained in an instant.

A few years ago, Nigeria was gripped with the drama of the deportation of the Vaswani brothers who have been labeled ‘economic terrorists’. They allegedly caused Nigeria losses amounting to billions in unpaid customs duties, among other corrupt practices. In typical Nigerian fashion, the matter has been forgotten. Serious allegations of compromise at the top echelons of the Nigerian Customs Service have been shelved. This is just one case that came to light. Many others are unreported. Some estimates indicate that Indians help to evacuate more than $50 million daily from Nigeria through dubious paperwork and official collusion.

Despite these sharp practices, if Indians simply engage in the importation of stale rice and sub-standard automobiles at outrageous prices and also help Nigerians launder money, it would be a simpler affair. The greater danger comes with the involvement of Indians in Nigeria’s health services. Currently, a significant percentage of all fake drugs found in Nigeria come from India. And as if it not enough to sell death to us, the angels of death (or Indians of Death) have come to reside among us.

A notorious example is a so-called ‘super specialty’ hospital located in Karu, Abuja. Initially, complaints of fraud and medical malpractices were seen as the actions of rivals and detractors trying to spread malicious rumours about the hospital. However, there is a growing litany of complaints from too many sources who claim have been defrauded by this hospital for the authorities to simply ignore.

One blogger whose sister had a nasty experience at the hospital puts it this way: “Those Indians are quacks; they do not posses basic medical credentials. The head of the hospital, an Indian woman is not a medical doctor. The deputy is her son and not a medical doctor as well. A specialist hospital operating in a Nigerian government built infrastructure does not have a medical director”.

Operating structure and credentials aside, more worrisome are the reports of unneeded and unnecessary surgeries the hospital forces on patients. One person reported the case of a patient who had gone there for treatment on his leg. According to her, “the quack doctor did a terrible job on him and he’s presently walking with crutches. The poor guy went to the hospital with his two legs and they turned him to a disabled being after paying almost N2.5million”. Another reported, “My mother is a victim. After paying over 5 million naira for (unneeded) operations, she is bedridden. Avoid these killers at all costs. You have been warned!”

Considering the plethora of complaints against this Indian hospital, isn’t it high time our health authorities investigated what is going on there? Or have they also received the ‘Indian Treatment’?

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No Kollywood superstars on Kerala channels

Movies of Mohanlal and Mammootty make TV channels poorer by 3.5 crore per movie while Dileep and Prithviraj films ranges from Rs 2.75 to 3 crore.

Come Onam, Malayalis may have to do without the standard filmi fare on television and go back to playing traditional games like Thalappanthukali or Thumbithullal!

For long, it has become a practice, especially in the cities and towns, to sit before the idiot box and spend the festive holidays watching relatively new blockbuster movies of superstars.

However, with the Kerala Television Federation (KTF) announcing its decision not to buy any superstar movies henceforth, citing the enormous amounts charged for satellite rights, this is bound to change.

But if you think the television industry is going to be in tatters without cinema, not all agree with that prognosis.

“Almost 80-90% of the entertainment content in television comes from the film industry and the huge dependence of television on the film industry is pretty evident.

But if KTF doesn’t budge from its decision not to buy superstar movies, it will be the film industry that will suffer,” explains noted actress Praveena, who has straddled both big and small screens.

Speaking about how television keeps the film industry afloat, she points out how it is the previews and trailers of the new releases on TV that help draw the crowds to the theatres.

She says, “Films reach television in the guise of mimicry, comedy skits, and music videos or even in the form of artistes.

Similarly, production, distribution and exhibition of feature films are supported by the television industry. Together, both the media have established their co-existence and financial interdependence over the years. Today, TV helps keep the film industry going.”

The Kerala Television Federation secretary Baby Mathew argues, “Television and film industry should go hand in hand as both heavily depend on each other.

Charging exorbitant rates for the superstar movies has put us in a very difficult situation, that is why we have now decided to stop buying movies that come for anything more than Rs 3 crore.

” As per the KTF, movies of Mohanlal and Mammootty make them poorer by 3.5 crore per movie while Dileep and Prithviraj films ranges from Rs 2.75 to 3 crore.

With the KTF announcing after their recent meeting that the television industry can’t pay the price for the escalating budgets in the film industry, Milan Jaleel, the President of Kerala Film Producers Association, retorts that it is not the film industry but the television industry which actually brought on this crisis.

He says, “With the advent of too many channels in Malayalam, the competition among these channels to secure the satellite rights for superstar movies increased and the satellite right rates suddenly rose from Rs 50 lakh to about Rs 3.5 crore.

” Describing films an indispensable entity for the television industry, Milan says the few television channels who have raised the banner of revolt cannot afford to ignore superstar movies, irrespective of the cost.

He even tips off, “With many channels getting ready to launch, I am sure the rates for the channel rights are going to increase further.” (courtesy: Keerthy Ramachandran & Deccan Chronicle)