13 JUNE 1998, Page 29

Where the money goes

THERE is, as Adam Smith said, a deal of ruin in a nation, especially nations as rich in resources as Nigeria or Zaire, but you have to give their rulers marks for trying. Only the death of General Sani Abacha, at once premature and overdue, has denied him the chance to steal as much money as Mobutu Sese Seko. I hope that the vocal bishops who stood in a ring round Birmingham, urging us all to let such countries off their debts, will allow themselves a minute's silence to reflect on promise unfulfilled. Another minute's thought would show them where the money goes. The right way to help Africa is to discourage its rulers from helping themselves.