David Cameron calls Nigeria, Afghanistan “fantastically corrupt”
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been caught on camera telling Queen Elizabeth II that Nigeria and Afghanistan are two of the “most corrupt” countries in the world.
The prime minister made the remarks before the anti-corruption summit tomorrow, at which Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, will deliver a keynote address entitled “Why we must tackle corruption together”.
Cameron who will be the host of the summit was overheard telling the monarch that “leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries” would be attending the meeting, before singling out the two nations.
“Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world,” he added.
The Queen did not immediately respond but Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who has worked in Nigeria when he was an oil executive, quickly cut in. “But this particular president is actually not corrupt,” he said, insisting that Buhari was “trying very hard”.
A spokesman for Buhari, who won elections last year vowing to fight corruption, said he was deeply “shocked and embarrassed” by the comments, which he assumed must refer to problems in Nigeria that pre-dated his presidency, Guardian reported.
An official in the Afghan embassy described the intervention as “unfair”, arguing the country had made important progress in this area. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani will also be attending tomorrow’s conference.
Reacting to Cameron’s comment, Buhari said he does not want an apology but a return of the assets that were taken out of Nigeria and sent to the UK. “What would I do with an apology? I need something tangible. I am not going to demand any apology from anyone. What I am demanding is a return of assets,” he said at a Commonwealth anti-corruption conference.
Asked at the event if Nigeria was a “fantastically corrupt” country, he thought for a moment and said: “Yes”.
He refused, however, to say whether he regarded Cameron’s remarks as rude, saying that Britain had led in trying to track down former Nigerian government members who had acted disgracefully.