I scribbled these personal notes some few years ago– Nostalgic Sites and Sounds of Singapore —
The year was 2015. The month was July. The date was one of those Saturdays where after the Polomo bike cycling, the morning jogging exercises around the Bedok Reservoir Park and along the East Coast Park, some weight lifting within the communal gymnasium you tend to sit down with family and relax for the afternoon catch-up with everyone around the house.
How time flies. It had been one year seven months since the family temporally relocated from one Continent of Africa to Asia. Seated comfortably in my white imperial pure leather seats, relaxing, sipping my glass of cold Japanese green tea with no sugar, watching the Digital Satellite Television (DSTV) in one of the central high rise three-roomed flat situated at 1 Tanamera Kechil Road, the Tanamera Cassia near the Tanamerah Mass Rapid Transport (MRT). These privately owned High rise flats popularly known as Private Condominiums (Condos) in Singapore and many surrounding Asian Countries had expatriate families from all over the World.
Chatting with my wife and three of the four daughters, soliciting for their views on how things have been with everyone regarding their stay in this host Country – Singapore.
Almost everyone had their version of the experiences, especially the beginning and the end of the tour of duty. One of the Christian brothers we initially interacted with when we stayed at “The Village Residence at Robertson Quay” self fully serviced apartment who welcomed us to Singapore referred to the City State of Singapore as a “Pressure Cooker” and the “Stress Inventor” for varying reasons. We could not agree with him anymore.
Life is fast-paced, and we could see by the pace and quick steps by people whenever they walked to the Train Station, or Bus stops popularly known as Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) stations. The people seem to have no luxury of time. Everyone is busy either brisk walking or surfing the net on the smartphones with headset speakers plugged into their ears. A clear sign or indication that one had to mind their own business.
Back home in Africa, what one would consider a mere and straightforward favor request of asking for assistance regarding direction or the whereabouts of shopping malls or marketplace from any passerby would be treated differently. Such a request would instead attract another reciprocal favor of being shown which online application one must download over wifi to find ones way around. Instead of pointing an index finger in the direction of the shopping mall, you would be surprised to see the old and the young hurriedly demonstrating how you should use online applications such as Google maps, gothere.com, Singapore Map and the 3D building dimensions. The pointing fingers are always on the tablets, smartphones and other such gadgets showing you zip and postal codes instead of physical and tangible indicators like buildings and roads, public places like the library, hospitals, and schools.
I reached for the DSTV remote control and changed the channel from British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) to Chanel News Asia (CNA). I encouraged everyone within the house to pay particular attention to the news items as it pertained to Africa. Thank God, this time, it was not the abject poverty stories in Somalia and Ethiopia, Xenophobia attacks and tire fire ring murders in South Africa, warring factions hacking each other in Sudan and South Sudan, the Somalia Pirates holding ships and the crew at gunpoint ready to pump several bullets in the human skulls While demanding colossal ransom money.
The news was also not about Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe supporting veterans grabbling farms from white farmers and him launching a scathing attack against the leadership of the Western Countries. The news was also not about the Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahedeen (Al-Shabaab) militants or terrorist group members from Somalia staging another heinous massacre mission in Kenya’s Capital Nairobi or sabotaging a telecommunication base tower in Sacoow resulting in the termination of Hormuud telecommunication, internet services and mobile banking services in Jubadda Dhexe administrative region, southern Somalia.
It was also not about the Zambian ruling Patriotic Front (PF) Party Cadre members wielding matches and verbally attacking the opposition Political Party – United National Development Party (UPND) all clad in the political attire and regalia. Taken, it was not a 12-hour power load shedding strategy by the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) blaming the low water levels on the mighty Zambezi River on the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
It was not the blood diamonds in Liberia or the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is not about the exponentially rising Ebola cases in Sierra Leone or Liberia. It was not the uprising or terrorist activities in Tunisia, Libya or Egypt jeopardizing the tourism industry. It was not the corruption allegations over oil and diamonds against the inner circle within the Angolan ruling class. The news was not also about the Boko Haram minions looting and destroying building, churches, schools, innocent massacre lives, taking hostage of girl children to unknown destinations and forcefully turning them into unwilling wives and impregnated against their will in Nigeria.
A sigh of relief and hope crept in upon the realization that with elections over and new leaders about to take office in Nigeria – the most populous Nation on the continent of Africa and globally well known mostly for the wrong reasons. Nigeria’s former military General Buhari had won elections in Nigeria beating the incumbent Goodluck Jonathan whose luck has not been excellent this time around.
Before I got too much excitement about the regime change in any African Country, I recalled vividly an article which I had read a few months earlier. Emotionally painful article I must admit. The article is in a paper entitled “The Devastating impact of Money Laundering and other Economic and Financial Crimes on the Economy of Developing Countries: Nigeria as a Case.” This was a study by Yusuf and Ibrahim from the International Islamic University Malaysia. The paper makes fascinating reading for all those who wish to test and stretch their anger management skills.
The paper argues that Economic and financial crimes represent a dangerous form of criminal behavior that affects not an only individual member of a society but also have deleterious effects on the economic, health and material welfare of the community as a whole. Economic and financial crimes are non-violent criminal practices which are tantamount to sabotage of the national economy. This is because of the impact of these offenses on the social well being and economic foundation of any nation.
This paper examines the far-reaching consequences of economic and financial crimes especially money laundering on the economy of the developing countries using Nigeria as a case study. The study finds that the common characteristic of the effects of economic and financial crimes in the developing countries is its tendency to undermine a national economy which in turn often results in decelerated improvement in the quality of life of citizens and paving the way for economic cum political stagnation.
This finding represents a significant problem Nigeria like many other developing countries is presently grappling with as a result of the prevalence of economic and financial crimes. The paper concludes by recommending a robust legal regime coupled with the political will to combat the menace and minimize its devastating consequences.
In Section three, on the consequences of economic and financial crimes in Nigeria, some very alarming figures are mentioned. The paper states, “In spite of Nigeria’s enormous oil and gas deposit and abundant human resources, the nation is still a developing country with 80-90 million Nigerians out of the 140 million population living in abject poverty. For the past four decades, over USD300 billion was earned from oil exports, but paradoxically Nigeria’s current per capita income is about 20% less than the 1975 level while the nation suffers under an unbearable external debt burden of about USD33 billion, the equivalent of 60% of the nation’s GDP. The pathetic consequences of economic and financial crimes in Nigeria is well captured by Nuhu Ribadu, the former Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Nigeria, when he disclosed thus; “Without seeking to befog you with statistics, let me share a few examples of what corruption has cost us as a people and as a nation.
My pet example is the GBP20 Billion Pounds (about USD500 Billion) of development assistance that has been stolen from this country since independence to date by past leaders of our country …the money could create the beauty and glory of Western Europe six times all over Nigeria. Nigerians line at the gate of Western Embassies daily in search of visas to flee the country, but the best way to appreciate this figure is to recall that it represents six times the value in money that went into rebuilding Europe via the famous Marshal at the end of the 2nd World War”.
My thoughts led me to seriously introspect, reflect on the African Countries current and future states. The gloomy picture reminds us of so many African Countries and our God Given Natural Resource such as oil and gas, diamonds and gold, copper and cobalt, emeralds and manganese, tin and zinc, lakes and rivers, wildlife and timber, name them. It is very heartbreaking to learn that around 1972, a Southern Central African Country called Zambia had a better Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than South Korea for example. Today, South Korea has made far better progress than Zambians have. It is indeed a disgrace that the size of our GDP, which is around USD20 billion, equals that of some private companies and some individuals in the Western and Eastern world. It seems like every African Politician that has ever vied for the Political office across the Continent and come on the scene has told the same or old story. That is my continent. Africa and I love it.