Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Prof Fidelis Oditah, has admitted that a recent comment attributed to UK Prime Minister, David Cameron that Nigeria is fantastically corrupt is true but politically incorrect and impolite.
Oditah, who doubles as a Queen’s Counsel, believes that “The comment may be impolite and is politically incorrect because as far as we know, Nigeria and Britain are friendly nations.
“I don’t think it’s good politics to make such a statement about an ally on the eve of the anti-corruption convention.
“Much as it is diplomatically incorrect, I think that the substantive content of that comment is generally correct,” he said.
Oditah did not think Nigeria should demand an apology from Downing Street following the prime minister’s remarks.
“Is Nigeria not fantastically corrupt? Why should it demand an apology for speaking the truth? It may be impolite, but the fact is that the President said his agenda is to fight corruption to a standstill, and pretty much the first 12 months of his administration has been dominated by headlines of ‘corruption’. I don’t see why people should be so sensitive about the statement.
“When I read the broadcast of Aguiyi Ironsi in relation to 1966 coup, he was talking about the need to rid the country of corruption. That’s 50 years ago. In January 1984 when Babangida/Buhari came to power, it was to rid the country of corruption. When Buhari has returned this time it is to rid the country of corruption.
“I think that Nigerians should be happy that the British prime minister is telling them that Nigeria is ‘fantastically corrupt’ because the country is indeed fantastically corrupt,” he said.
Oditah said there were still exceptional Nigerians who were not corrupt, and therefore, he did not think the statement was a characterisation of all citizens.
“I think the statement has to be understood in that context. I don’t think he’s speaking about each of every of the 170 million Nigerians.
“In general, the country is fantastically corrupt, both in the public and private sector. I think that such statement should be understood to be addressing the generality,” he said.