Thursday 20 June 2013

The Career Activist: Raising Public Causes for Private Purses

Porn for our times
Snippets of information gathered from sources so varied and diverse and woven in a yarn of a nightmare too bizarre for words that one reels with shock.
As the century turned there came those whose sophistry opened the purse strings of funding for projects that were to attend to pressing needs of people dying of a disease that had defied cure but not the management of it.
Collection tins were shaken in the streets of rich countries tugging at the heartstrings of a public that could only spare little but augmented with international aid budgets you had a pool of resource ready to be plundered by the savvy.
As our screens are filled with famine porn, disease porn, malnutrition porn, disaster porn, war porn and whatever pornography that engages the mind and excites altruistic activists to demonstrate, protest and agitate for more action, the money mountains piled up to be doled out to frontmen, spokespersons, activists and espousers of causes we all seem to hold dear in lands afar.
Black holes of aid
Closer to the needy, there are activists who are doing a lot with very little, their resources stretched to the limit and still they are coping with the situation whilst they are insulated from the real funding they need by middlemen elite who have become professional panhandlers with access to international organisations and influential persons.
With the urgency to act at what has always been a crisis exploited by some who had assumed the role of activist, spokesperson and head of some organisation – be it a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or a community based organisation (CBO) with a cause that is at best a guzzler of dollars for the leaders and a dispenser of cents to the led, money has flooded into named projects and selected hands to do what has generated much paperwork activity but no fulfilling result.
The rain is not getting to the ground, that is why the crops have failed and yet more clouds gather for a monsoon – that is the metaphor for the snippets of stories that have accompanied aid activism for many projects to do with family planning, alleviating poverty, addressing diseases as malaria, tuberculosis and most especially HIV/AIDS.
Squandered on self
Suites at conferences where the footmen invited can barely get a place that they literally lie in slave ship formation on some benevolent floor, as the elite select choice persons for sensual pleasure, living the life of oil sheiks to hedonistic for polite phrasing, they have danced on the graves of the many who suffered needlessly as funds were diverted to acquisitive ostentatious living with unconscionable impunity – Woe betide the ones that remain in this activity even as some are long dead.
The money made available for these causes was unbelievably too much and as they shared the largesse amongst themselves, fights broke out and with those fights some light came into what they were up to but whatever is known is just the tip of the iceberg of schemes hatched in minds so reprobate and rotten beyond redemption.
Sadly, as the love of money is the root of all evil, the dissenters and whistle-blowers have run the risk of loss as great as the loss of support, the loss of influence and even the loss of life (assassinations portrayed as armed robbery murders), the corrupt enterprise built on aid activism that appeals to wealthy donors cannot be allowed to suffer the scrutiny necessary to ensure that funds allocated reach the projects advocated.
Lavish lifestyle
Accountability in the evil enterprise of the aid industrial complex peopled by career activists is of the utmost urgency, auditors have to follow the money from the hand-out for things to be done to the handoff of things completed.
It is contemptible that aid is somewhat now intricately linked with lavish lifestyles because of the lack of transparency and accountability; the altruistic activist is rare, many have joined a cause for the money and the lifestyle than for the purpose and the project.
As Imran Khan observed about aid in this June 2013 interview with the New Statesman, “the ruling elite use aid to finance their lavish lifestyle.”
10 years before, Senator Grassley reported, “Over the years, we've seen incidents in which federal funds for HIV/AIDS have been squandered through overcharges for medicines and laboratories, embezzlement of program funds to support lavish lifestyles, or even diversion of AIDS funds to finance political campaigns.”
The great shame
This is not a problem specific to Pakistan or the United States, it is pervasive and the snippets could well involve Nigerians; a story that is in need of telling as more aid and support flows into fences dressed as NGOs with activists jetting around the globe from conference to conference, peddling influence and living large with no care in the world for anyone but themselves.
The greatest tragedy of this abuse of aids funds which might well be found in many countries and it has had its run in Nigeria too is in these words by Senator Grassley, “It’s tragic if people die because the funds they need to survive are being diverted, misspent, or wasted.
The fact is the funds did come but they were diverted and people died – for this alone, there must be accountability and justice, it is criminal that people have gotten away with this and risen up the ranks as if this is insignificant and of no consequence – it is a shame, a great shame.

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