Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Some details from Nigeria

Nigeria's new president promised to fight corruption. He has continued to make that promise. Norimitsu Onishi, reporting for The New York Times offers some details about the fight.

And how do you suppose that, as Sola Akinrinade is quoted as saying, "Corruption will fight back"?

Nigeria President Pledges to Root Out Long-Entrenched Graft
Porsche dealership in Lagos
Private jets that used to crowd the airport here have been grounded, their wings clipped by the new government’s crackdown on corruption. Rolls-Royces, Range Rovers and Jaguars are gathering dust in the showroom of this capital’s top car dealer. Luxury villas are left unsold…

Since assuming power in May on a pledge to root out the graft that has long permeated Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has squeezed the flow of public funds…

He has put many public projects on hold to review the contracts, and ordered many government ministries, departments and agencies to consolidate their bank accounts for closer monitoring of financial transactions. He has overhauled the management of the state oil company, while also moving to retrieve stolen money.

In recent days, the campaign escalated with the arrest of two high-profile figures: Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former oil minister whose five-year tenure was marred by recurring accusations of widespread theft; and the chairman of a Nigerian oil company…

“Those actions will sustain the fear that the culture of impunity is over and government’s will to prosecute is strong,” said Adams Oshiomhole, a governor leading a national panel investigating federal graft. “There’s no more free money flowing because of the attempts by the president to block it, but also the fear that, ‘If I’m caught now, I’ll be prosecuted.’”…

Whether Mr. Buhari can maintain the pressure against graft, much less transform a society where corruption thrives at all levels, is far from clear. Over the years, previous assaults on the problem have fizzled…

Many officials and businessmen said that graft under former President Goodluck Jonathan reached levels not seen since military rule ended in 1999. Billions of dollars are believed to have disappeared from activities related to the oil industry, the source of 80 percent of all government revenues…

Mr. Sagay said that his panel is also focusing on reforming the handful of government anti-corruption agencies, which, he said, have been “contaminated” by officials working in concert with those they are supposed to be investigating.

“We now have at the federal government level a government that actually appreciates the work of the anti-corruption agencies,” said Sola Akinrinade, the head of a government anti-corruption academy..

Mr. Akinrinade acknowledged, though, that previous governments had also had strong starts. After being elected president in 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo surprised many with an equally aggressive push against corruption. But within a year or two, it was business as usual in Nigeria.

“Corruption,” Mr. Akinrinade said, “will fight back.”

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