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.