By Wumi Akintide
When anybody tells you Nigeria is the most corrupt country in the world, the first question you should ask them is what is the frame of their comparison because it is a stretch or hyperbole to make a statement like that if you do not know what happens in other countries and, better still, if you have never been to any of those countries. As the Secretary of the Joint Economic Commissions of Nigeria with the rest of the world, and as Secretary, Manpower Department of Nigeria under the Federal Ministry of Establishments and as the Nigerian delegate for 3 years to C.A.F.R.A.D (African Training and Research Center in Administration for Development) I travelled quite a bit around the world during my 25 years with the Federal Public Service of Nigeria which was far superior to the rag tag the country has today.
I did not steal a dime because I was just too consumed with my globe trotting and the opportunity to see the world beyond the four walls of Nigeria. I travelled extensively within Nigeria in the same capacity but nothing compares to the opportunity I had to visit the four ends of the world either alone or as a member of a delegation. I once flew the Concord from London to New York in less than 3 hours at twice the speed of sound because my delegation was trying to get to New York to attend an important meeting. The estacode I received ran into thousands of dollars but what mattered to me was not the dollars per se or the purchase power it made possible for me but the opportunity it gave me to really know the world and to stock my wardrobes with the best dresses I could ever dream of as a dapper don in my prime.
I recall flying to Zaire at one point in my career in the company of Chief Oluyemi Falae, retired Secretary to Government under Ibrahim Babangida, who became the first Nigerian Chairman of C.A.F.R.A.D and my Permanent Secretary at the Manpower Department of Nigeria at that point in time. We were going to Zaire to persuade President Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Waza Banga, not to reject the appointment of one Professor Thomas Kanza of Zaire whom C.A.F.R.A.D has just appointed as the Director-General of C.A.F.R.A.D in succession to Dr. Kariuki of Kenya. Thomas Kanza, a Harvard multi lingual professor who spoke French with the eloquence of a Charles de Gaule and English with the dexterity of a Winston Churchill, was the first graduate and indigenous minister in Congo Kinshasa under the late Patrice Lumumba of blessed memory.
My humble self as the delegate of Nigeria and Chairman of the Recruitment Panel of C.A.F.R.A.D was the Plenipotentiary Chairman of the interview panel and Professor Thomas Kanza came first among the 9 candidates shortlisted from all the member countries of C.A.F.R.A.D. We had thought Mobutu was going to be happy about one of his own becoming the Head of C.A.F.R.A.D. We were wrong. Mobutu wanted his appointment torpedoed because he considered Kanza a