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    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Africa stuck


    Unlike officials in other countries, Nigerian public officials are not concerned with unemployment; in Nigeria "government and governance has been practically reduced to merely manipulating oil wealth," said Archbishop Onaiyekan.

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    Many Nigerian leaders "steal the money of the people and use it to buy up useless property abroad or stash it in foreign banks," and the money is used to "oil the industries of those countries, thereby giving jobs to their own people while Nigerians have no capital available to carry out small and middle-scale industries," he said.

    Despite Nigeria's oil wealth, which has produced billions of dollars since the 1970s, Nigerians are worse off today, the British magazine The Economist said in a late-October report.

    Approximately 71 percent of Nigerians live on less than $1 a day, "and the country is unlikely to achieve any of the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals by 2015," the report said.

    Archbishop Onaiyekan said that, like Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola are also rich in natural resources yet "wallowing in poverty."

    "When we look at our soil, we have vast arable land, fertile soil that can produce a wide variety of crops," but land cultivation has been neglected, he said.

    "Even food production, which ought to be a major concern of every nation, has suffered the same serious neglect," said Archbishop Onaiyekan. He used the example of rice, which Nigeria buys from outside markets while its local rice production is "stifled almost out of existence."

    In Nigeria "churches are seen as one of the few if not the only broker" among the people, government and corporations of extractive industries, Father Small told CNS Nov. 7.

    There are so many organizations and non-African governments trying to make
    some dent in Africa's shield of poverty, and nothing gets anywhere.

    It seems so many poor countries can not attain the economic critical mass
    needed to move toward improvement, especially in Africa.

    As Father Small indicates, somewhat like the dark ages in Europe, the
    church is the last structure left standing. What terrible changes of upheaval
    are in store, and what slow people-building programs are needed are painful to
    imagine.

    God help them.

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