30 June 2020.
Hans Smaling, who was Dutch economic envoy to West Africa between 2015 and 2018, was summarily dismissed after he complained about how the government and companies from the European country are involved corruption in Nigeria. He had put in 34 years of field service for the Dutch government.
He told a Dutch newspaper that he had to indirectly facilitate forms of possible corruption, on behalf of the Dutch government, in order to push the interests of the Netherlands.
Smaling said the Netherlands is in Nigeria for its own benefit. Smaling’s advocacy for Netherlands to work “on the investment climate, on building the country, on macroeconomic stability, reforms and regulation” did not find favour with authorities at the foreign ministry.
Mr Smaling’s position was created for ‘promoting the competitive position of the Netherlands’. The role of economic envoy is to act as regional business developer. Such economic envoys were stationed in areas of economic interest to the Netherlands, such as Singapore, Dubai, Lima, Copenhagen and Nigeria.
Mr Smaling told the newspaper that in most countries Dutch companies can do normal and good business. But not in Nigeria.
He cited the example of a Swiss-Dutch commodity trader, Vitol, which shipped heavily polluted diesel from Rotterdam to Nigeria, which contains up to two hundred times as much sulphur as is permitted in Europe.
The new revelation comes not long after another report revealed how a former Dutch ambassador in Nigeria, Robert Petri, leaked the confidential information to oil company, Shell. The leakage of the confidential information fuelled tensions at the embassy. A sick working atmosphere prevailed at the embassy.
After internal investigations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled Petri back to the Netherlands in early 2019.