An American foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has accused Nigerian elites, of using the British educational system as a money-laundering shield in the guise of seeking better schooling opportunities for their wards.
In a report written by the foundation’s non-resident scholar on democracy, conflict and governance, Mathew Page, titled “West African Elites’ Spending on UK Schools and Universities: A Closer Look,” he alleged that colleges and universities in the United Kingdom are complicit in the process.
He said that the UK is still reluctant to acknowledge outside criticism of the sector’s AML [anti-money laundering] shortcomings or to derive lessons learned from recent anticorruption failures adding that some have even shown willingness “to matriculate students linked to known—and even convicted—kleptocrats.”
PremiumTimes describes Page as a famous Nigeria expert, author, and consultant on Nigeria who was a top Nigeria expert with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, where he also served the Defense Intelligence Agency, Marine Corps Intelligence and the National Intelligence Council. He is also a nonresident fellow with the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja.
The traditional argument by many Nigerian political elites that they accumulated vast wealth before entering politics, does not hold water, according to the report based on data, because very few would be able to show convincing evidence of how they did so.
While the majority of Nigerian and Ghanaian students studying in the UK are neither linked to PEPs [politically exposed persons] nor represent a corruption risk, the report claimed, “a small but significant share do” and that “Illicit financial flows into UK educational institutions via West African PEPs are noteworthy and should receive greater scrutiny.”
Arguing for reforms, the report said a “stronger policy focus on the corruption vulnerabilities of the UK education sector could also support UK international development goals by reducing “educational escapism” by elites who choose to school abroad while neglecting domestic educational institutions.”
The report also berated the UK government for its “policies and programmes seeking to boost the country’s international education sector” which the report said, “lack a much-needed anti-corruption component.”
It argued the case that the increasing reliance on schools in advance countries of the west for the education of their wards expands the disincentives to strengthen their own home educational institutions.
“The capital flight and greater foreign exchange and currency pressures associated with paying costly school and university fees have harmed these countries’ future development and prevented them from correcting deeper socioeconomic inequalities that compound underdevelopment and can even spark violent conflict.
British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing who revealed that the report was commissioned by the British government stated that “Tackling illicit corruption in Nigeria is critical to the country’s prosperity and security, and to addressing poverty and inequality,” adding that “the UK is working in partnership with Nigeria to tackle corruption and illicit finance and has excellent relationships with Nigerian agencies and civil society who are fighting corruption.”
“The UK has a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and remains committed to tackling it wherever it happens, including in the United Kingdom (UK) education system.”