Foreign Aid – Is it worth it?

Now I would hardly claim to be an avid fan of the UKIP party, especially since I am myself half-Iranian and therefore fully embrace international cultures all around the world. Had the policies of UKIP been in place 30 years ago, preventing foreigners coming into this country, I may not be alive to write this article today. Baring this in mind however, I have become encapsulated in the recent controversy surrounding UKIP MEP, Godfrey Bloom. The Guardian newspaper has just released video footage which captures Bloom discussing the situation of giving international aid to countries amid the financial difficulties that the UK currently faces. He states, ‘How we can possibly be giving a billion pounds a month, when we’re in this sort of debt, to Bongo Bongo land is completely beyond me.’ Although these statements seem rash and perhaps racist, there is clearly substance in what Bloom says, although he could have phrased this differently.

Although the above incident ignited my interest, I did not fully become encapsulated by the topic without any sufficient evidence about the corruption taking place in these ‘foreign aid’ receiving countries. However, I glanced at the Daily Mail, and the truth about one of these aid receiving countries has come to light. Nigeria is our focus, and what the Daily Mail reveals really is enough to frustrate any British taxpayer. Over the five years that the Coalition government are in charge, Nigeria is set to receive £1.4 billion in foreign aid to help provide food for their poorest people. Yet what is this money really being spent on; an ambitious space program which sees the country building their own rockets and training astronauts in hope that they can compete against the almighty China, Russia, and USA. Aside from the space program, there are other Nigerian secrets that should be disclosed. The country has begun to import even more Cognac and Champagne over the recent years, paid for not only by the UK taxpayer’s pockets, but also the country’s oil revenue, totaling an estimated £40 billion a year. In 2011 alone, the country spent £31 million on champagne, yet 70% of the population live below the poverty line and can’t afford basic foods; this concept is bizarre. The incomes of the legislators of the country are averaged at £122,000, a salary that surpasses our own MP’s by almost double. Nigeria is one of the world’s richest countries in natural resources, for whilst they sit on oil reserves estimated at 35 billion barrels worth, and 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The Nigerian government is the reason why 70% of their population earn less than £1.29 a day, an unfortunate consequence of greed and power which has dominated Nigeria since they received independence in 1960.

Aside from the copious amounts of money spent on funding Nigeria’s poverty issues, the UK government also offers foreign aid to many other counties, one of which is India, receiving a total of £280 million per year. After some research into predictions of the future, India is expected to surpass the UK and other European countries in the economic field by 2030, competing against the global leaders of China and the USA. Why should the UK be providing foreign aid to a country which is expected to be an economic powerhouse in such a short amount of time into the future? Rather than pumping money into the economy of these countries, why does the UK not send advisors to guide the governments in spending their money on their people rather than themselves?

So why is it a problem if we spend vast amounts of money on foreign aid? We can afford it can’t we? Put in simple terms, no we cannot. The UK government is still in an exasperated situation, and whilst the economy seems to be improving slightly, the debts are still spiraling out of control, and that’s just because of the interest we have to pay back. What about the problems that we face in this country? This money, instead of being spent on space programs, could be used to create apprenticeships for our vastly numbered young unemployed population; it could help solve the catastrophic issues facing the NHS; our education system could be completely reformed; this money could even be used towards paying back our debts so we don’t have to sacrifice such a large amount just to repay the interest on debts, a cost which doesn’t benefit us in the slightest. This country is far from utopia and we need to use our financial resources efficiently to help solve the problems that exist.

Whilst I am a firm believer in ensuring that every person in the world receives the right to a life with food and a home for them to sleep in, I do not believe that sending money straight into the coffers of the corrupt governments in the world is the answer we seek. I therefore agree with Backbench Tory MP Phillip Davis in his support of Godfrey Bloom; instead of giving money, we should be forcing the governments to spend their money where it is needed the most, whether it be through providing government advisors or forcibly taking the situation into our own hands.

4 responses to “Foreign Aid – Is it worth it?”

  1. James says:

    Just to comment on some of yours claims:
    1. “The incomes of the legislators of [Nigeria] are averaged at £122,000, a salary that surpasses our own MP’s by almost double.”. The Lord Chief Justice in Britain is paid £239,845, the President of the Supreme Court receives £214,165, the Deputy President is paid £206,857. The wages of MPs in Britain is low in comparison to other countries anyway, but the real hypocrisy is from the Daily Mail, as they was moaned and groaned about the 10% rise in MP’s wages none-the-less!

    2. The current British aid for Nigeria is to:
    “*towards the goal of half a million babies being delivered by a skilled health worker
    *we will be distributing 8 million insecticide treated bed nets to help prevent malaria
    *we will work with Nigerian State Governments and the UN to help an additional 800,000 children, 600,000 of them girls, receive an education
    *we will work with the UN to give 1.2 million more people access to safer water and 2.9 million more people access to sanitation
    *we will work with the UN and NGOs to tackle poverty and hunger in the poorest parts of Northern Nigeria through programmes to deliver cash directly to over 50,000 poor women, and nutrition programmes to help over 2 million of the most under nourished young children and their mothers
    *we will work with the private sector and NGOs to help 600,000 people to increase their income and work their own way out of poverty, and 10 million more people get a bank account so they can use financial services and build savings.
    *we will work with Nigerian State Governments, the UN and civil society to help Nigerian citizens hold their government to account through freer and fairer elections and being able to demand better services”

    Not to help its space programme or buy alcohol. The Daily Mail fails to provide any proof to these two claims.

    3. Even if the governments we help are corrupt, that is not an argument to say we should not give any aid at all. Also, just because the Daily Mail claims the Nigerian government is corrupt, that does not make it so. The article you mention talks more of Nigeria’s past then what is currently happening in Nigeria.

    4. Foreign aid only takes up 0.7% of Britain’s GDP, we can afford it. And the benefits it brings to people across the world make it definitely worth it.

  2. James says:

    Just to comment on some of your claims:
    1. “The incomes of the legislators of [Nigeria] are averaged at £122,000, a salary that surpasses our own MP’s by almost double.”. The Lord Chief Justice in Britain is paid £239,845, the President of the Supreme Court receives £214,165, the Deputy President is paid £206,857. The wages of MPs in Britain is low in comparison to other countries anyway, but the real hypocrisy is from the Daily Mail, as they was moaned and groaned about the 10% rise in MP’s wages none-the-less!

    2. The current British aid for Nigeria is to:
    “*towards the goal of half a million babies being delivered by a skilled health worker
    *we will be distributing 8 million insecticide treated bed nets to help prevent malaria
    *we will work with Nigerian State Governments and the UN to help an additional 800,000 children, 600,000 of them girls, receive an education
    *we will work with the UN to give 1.2 million more people access to safer water and 2.9 million more people access to sanitation
    *we will work with the UN and NGOs to tackle poverty and hunger in the poorest parts of Northern Nigeria through programmes to deliver cash directly to over 50,000 poor women, and nutrition programmes to help over 2 million of the most under nourished young children and their mothers
    *we will work with the private sector and NGOs to help 600,000 people to increase their income and work their own way out of poverty, and 10 million more people get a bank account so they can use financial services and build savings.
    *we will work with Nigerian State Governments, the UN and civil society to help Nigerian citizens hold their government to account through freer and fairer elections and being able to demand better services”

    Not to help its space programme or buy alcohol. The Daily Mail fails to provide any proof to these two claims.

    3. Even if the governments we help are corrupt, that is not an argument to say we should not give any aid at all. Also, just because the Daily Mail claims the Nigerian government is corrupt, that does not make it so. The article you mention talks more of Nigeria’s past then what is currently happening in Nigeria.

    4. Foreign aid only takes up 0.7% of Britain’s GDP, we can afford it. And the benefits it brings to people across the world make it definitely worth it.

  3. Will says:

    I hate to say it, but I completely agree with this article. Well, apart from the India bit, as we’ve already said we’re going to stop funding them. Idealism and pragmatism here are on two different sides of the debate. Our intentions are noble and are no doubt supported by the British public, but we have to ask, can we afford it?

    The answer is, despite what James thinks, certainly not. Debts can cripple a country no matter how much of an economic or political powerhouse they are, debts are not biased in that way. Have you never heard of the phrase, “as rich as an Argentine”? Not in the last few years you haven’t. Let’s not be arrogant about a projected £1tn of debts, that is a number our brains cannot fathom.

    As for the point of funding corrupt government, regardless of our financial mess, I also agree. Funding corrupt governments only helps to keep them in charge. A better, though not perfect, solution would be to just directly fund a sector directly and employ British citizens to oversee it. I’m sure the Nigerians or other governments would not be aggrieved if we offer to do their work for them.

    Finally, on a personal level, if we theoretically could afford to give aid, I’d give it to the commonwealth. It’s an untapped resource where we have greater power. With Canada, Australia & UK giving aid to a small amount of countries, exclusion of this group would be a lot more damaging. We therefore can drive change in two ways and have enough umph to actually making a long term impact instead of just maintaining populations beyond the land’s limit. We’d start with kicking out Rwanda for their recent role in the Congo. 

    Anyway, I’m rambling, thanks for an interesting read.

    • James says:

      Again, as to the claim “we cannot afford it”, foreign aid takes up 0.7% of our GDP. To clarify, that means 99.3% of it is spent elsewhere. Many other areas of government spending can be reduced in order to tackle governmental debt,

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