Tag Archives: corruption

Which came first – the corrupt citizen or the corrupt government?

The past few governments have truly had their work cut out for them, after all, swindling the country’s money is hard-work and time-consuming. So much so that they haven’t had the time to pay attention to industries other than oil, or run a general election without it becoming an absolute joke.

With the elections that were meant to take place last Saturday being postponed for a whole week, the world has been reminded of what a corrupt country Nigeria is.  Not only does the whole registration/election process highlight severe corruption, it also highlights the disorganisation that Nigeria seems cursed with in all political and social affairs.

It’s easy to blame the people sitting in power. Of course they are certainly the ones making immoral and moronic decisions that impact negatively on the people they are meant to serve. The government should be responsible for infrastructure, education, nourishing and protecting home industries and making sure international trade is as beneficial as can be.

But Goodluck Jonathan, Namadi Sambo, and those under and around them did not arrive on a spaceship from planet Corruption. They are, after all, former ordinary citizens.

I came across a Nigerian forum awhile ago in which the issue of tax was being debated. One poster claimed that it was probably for the best that Nigeria wasn’t fully developed because perks of evading tax made life, for him, a lot more comfortable. He went on to tell an anecdote about how his brother was taken to court in the United Kingdom over refusing to pay a TV licensing fee, and described how systems such as these were “a nuisance”. I remember watching a news programme years ago asking young Nigerians what they would do if they were in power. One boy, aged around 10yrs, said “chop [steal] money.”

Heritage.org had this to say about Nigeria’s corruption rankings (notice the word I have highlighted in bold):

“Corruption is perceived as pervasive. Nigeria ranks 130th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2009, a drop from 2008. Corruption is endemic at all levels of government and society, and the president, vice president, governors, and deputy governors are constitutionally immune from civil and criminal prosecution. Domestic and foreign observers” recognize corruption as a serious obstacle to economic growth and poverty reduction.

In Nigeria, it’s normal to play ‘the game’. From bribing airport staff when one enters the country to paying 20N to policemen at so-called ‘checkpoints’ dotted along the main roads to allow you to get on with your journey.

Travelling to my father’s house in Ibadan from abroad we were stopped by policemen, armed with guns, who demanded a search of our car. In the glove compartment was a sum of money given to my father, by friends, to pass on to their relatives. Of course the policemen demanded a large portion of that money. Money that had entered the country legally and money that was not theirs to take. After much pleading, they finally accepted a smaller proportion of the money and went on their way.

Corruption, like any virus, has spread throughout all sectors of society. From politics, to education, from the top to the bottom. No one seems to be immune. But Nigeria is going to need some sort of cure – some sort of revolutionary change in mindset to change the status-quo. It’s easy to blame ‘them’ but what ‘you’?


WikiLeaks: Cables discuss possible electoral reform

Selected extracts from the WikiLeaks site on electoral reform, working with “ineffective” state governors and the federal government:

Foreign Office West and Southern Africa DAS-equivalent Janet Douglas told PDAS Carter July 22 that relative stability in West Africa and a UK budget crunch had meant a reduced UK presence and programming in West Africa, but agreed that Briton Edwin Dyer’s June murder in Mali by AQIM had been a “game changer.

Strongly endorsing greater U.S.-UK dialogue on Nigeria at the desk officer and technical levels, Douglas agreed that it was important to focus on the critical areas of electoral reform, constitutional succession, and corruption issues with the federal government. Assistance should be back-loaded, as the Nigeria government has the resources to begin initiatives but lacks the political will.

On the elections, Douglas agreed there is great potential for violence and that while the elections will likely be “bad,” it will be important to deal with governance and democracy as a process. She agreed that working with local civil society organization in the run-up to the elections on both conflict mitigation and transparency issues would be important.

She also supported working with individual states and governors, corrupt and ineffective as they may be, because they were providing an avenue of engagement and were more effective than the current, largely leaderless federal government.

AQIM =Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

WikiLeaks: Dead president’s dodgy dealings and his very own “Mr. Fix It”

Below is another extract from Wikileaks on dead President Yar’Adua’s close relationship with “rumoured smuggler” Dahiru Mangal and his “dirty” dealings.

1. (S//NF) SUMMARY: XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged a close
association between President Yar,Adua and Katsina native
and rumored smuggler Dahiru Mangal. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed Mangal
is the President's "Mr. Fix It," taking care of "anything
filthy" Yar'Adua needs done in addition to smuggling items
for several wealthy Nigerian businessmen through Niger into
Kano. Another Kano business contact corroborated XXXXXXXXXXXX 's
allegations, but observed that Mangal no longer deals openly
in illicit activity since Yar'Adua named him a special
advisor earlier this month. As well, XXXXXXXXXXXX maintained that
he had been approached by a man claiming to represent First
Lady Turai Yar'Adua and seeking an USD 2 million pay-off.
While Post cannot independently authenticate these
allegations of corruption by the President or First Lady,
Post has heard rumors of an emergent "Katsina clique" in the
Presidential Villa. END SUMMARY. 

2. (S//NF) Kano real estate entrepreneur and longtime Mission
contact XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff February
10 that Katsina native Dahiru Mangal, who XXXXXXXXXXXX contends
deals in illicit smuggling of goods into Nigeria, is also
known as President Yar'Adua's "Mr. Fix It." XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged
a close association between the President and Mangal, dating
to the former's tenure as governor of Katsina, and claimed
the latter remains to this day Yar'Adua's "go-to man" to
accomplish "anything filthy that Yar'Adua needs done."
Mangal, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, is also the "go-to" for any wealthy
Nigerian, who wants to import "just about anything" into
Nigeria. He declined to state whether Mangal smuggled
weapons, drugs, or persons into Nigeria. (On February 17,
PolOff queried another Kano business contact, who
corroborated XXXXXXXXXXXX 's accusations, however claimed Mangal no
longer goes by "Mr. Fix It" since Yar'Adua officially named
him a special advisor earlier this month. Allegedly,
Yar'Adua instructed Mangal to cease any illicit activity if
Mangal wished to enjoy official recognition by the President.
The contact implied this may connote, inter alia, that
Yar'Adua desires to maintain at least the appearance of
respect for rule of law, and thus, does not want any of his
close advisors openly involved in suspect activity.) 

several Nigerian businessmen who have employed Mangal's
services over the past several years. Reportedly, Mangal owns a warehouse across
the Niger border (likely close to the Katsina border with
Jibiyya and Maradi) in which he stores hundreds of 40-foot
shipping containers. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed Mangal is able to
import goods from around the world, including China. In
return, Mangal requests a flat fee of 2 million naira (USD
17,000), excluding the cost of goods. Approximately 100
containers per month are brought into Kano, and goods are
then delivered to clients or sold in Kano's Kurmi market. 

4. (S//NF) Mangal also operates several legitimate
businesses, XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted, including Mangal Airlines. The
National Hajj Commission of Nigeria contracted Kabo,
Bellview, Meridian, and Mangal Airlines for the December 2007
hajj operations, which transported approximately 100,000
Nigerians to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage. (Note:
Many Nigerian Muslims have criticized the GON's handling of
the 2007 hajj claiming several thousand Nigerians were left
stranded in Saudi Arabia and could not return to Nigeria,
except without extraordinary hardship, and several others
were never airlifted from Nigeria at all. End Note.) 

XXXXXXXXXXXX had been approached recently by a man claiming to speak on
behalf of First Lady Turai Yar'Adua. The person, who arrived
at the meeting with XXXXXXXXXXXX in a Peugeot with a
"presidential" license plate, told XXXXXXXXXXXX the First Lady
would "allow" them to construct the homes so long as she is
given an advance payment of 250 million naira (USD 2
million). XXXXXXXXXXXX said he was willing to offer the First 

ABUJA 00000320 002 OF 002 

Lady twenty plots of land instead, to which the presumed
emissary grimaced. The negotiations, XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff,

6. (C//NF) NOTE: During a late January conversation with
purchased an USD 10 million house in central London
approximately 7 years ago, XXXXXXXXXXXXX.
This house apparently was excluded from President
Yar,Adua,s public declaration of assets in June 2007, which
put his total wealth at approximately USD 7 million. END

7. (S//NF) COMMENT: While XXXXXXXXXXXX is a trusted, longtime
Mission contact who has provided veracious information in the
past, we cannot independently confirm his statements
regarding Mangal or the First Lady. Certainly, the man who
approached XXXXXXXXXXXXX seeking a pay-off may simply have been
attempting to exploit the First Lady's name for personal
enrichment. We have heard rumors of the emergence of a
"Katsina clique" in the Villa -- a group of individuals from
the President's home state of Katsina who reportedly
constitute Yar'Adua's inner circle and increasingly, control
access to him. The surfacing of this group may be a
corrollary to Yar'Adua's lack of national exposure (and
hence, his deficiently broad support base) and his inability
thus far to stamp his authority on the ruling People's
Democratic Party. Rumors abound alleging that the First
Lady, Special Advisor Tanimu Yakubu, and Minister of
Agriculture Sayyadi Ruma are involved in corrupt practices.
Reports of both the First Lady and Yakubu's taste for the
high life and tendencies toward illicit enrichment surfaced
during a December 2007 debrief by XXXXXXXXXXXXX
outlined problems he saw in the Villa and cases XXXXXXXXXXXXX
was closely watching (Ref A).
Several contacts from XXXXXXXXXXXXX, moreover, maintain that while
the President "appeared incorruptible" during his tenure as
governor, his wife siphoned off millions in public funds for
private use. Post will closely monitor these accusations and
report any new developments. END COMMENT.

Former dictator loses out in race for presidency

Former military dictator, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), has lost out to Abubakar Atiku to become the northern PDP candidate for the Nigerian presidency.

Atiku was chosen by a committee of 17 to stand for the next presidential elections – to be held early next year. The decision was announced at the Shehu Yar’Adua center in Abuja, yesterday. During his acceptance speech Atiku said:

“I am humbled by this endorsement, and I accept it wholeheartedly, with humility and sense of responsibility. I commend the Consensus Committee for this endorsement and for their sacrifice, their patriotism, their commitment and their integrity.  They have made an important contribution to the unity and stability of this country.”

This news will come as a relief to many who remember Babangida’s numerous human rights abuses during his dictatorship as well as the election he annulled in 1993, when it appeared that he had been beaten by businessman Moshood Abiola. Referring to his leadership credentials the former dictator said: “I have conducted the freest and fairest – and this is attested by the international community – elections in the history of our country. The fact that it was annulled is a different story altogether.”

Babangida wanted another term in power


It seems that Nigeria has had a lucky escape from this clueless tyrant.

‘You will be fine as long as you have money in Nigeria!’

How many times have I heard this statement? Far too many for my liking. Apart from humanly uninhabitable places in the world, you’ll be fine anywhere as long as you have vast amounts of money. But can one really be comfortable living like a king when you have desperately poor people in the same vicinity? Can you really be OK with turning on your generator when the electricity is cut-off, for the fourth time that day, when down the road people will have to make do with candles and lamps?

When you’re in a medical emergency and can afford the best hospital care one can buy, will you really be able to sleep at night knowing that others are dying from curable illnesses and diseases all over the country? Well I suppose for many, the answer to these questions is ‘yes’. Yes – people can deal with the fact that they are OK and others are not.

However, the saying that ‘no man is an island’ rings true for every nation in the world. There are some things that money cannot buy. Such as, police who will carry out their duties without expecting a bribe; and police who will question suspects without beating them to near-death to force a confession. Ministers who will provide basic services that a developed nation needs. Schools complete with equipment and teachers who do not expect anything from their female students in return for a good grade. Safe roads. A working transport system. Hospitals, and everything else an efficient health service needs. In short, infrastructure.

Nigeria celebrated its 50th birthday this year – representing 50 years of independence from British rule. Since then, Nigeria’s political landscape has been largely dominated by military rule, assassinations, a civil war, and oil. The discovery of oil in the delta region in 1956, had offered hope of prosperity for the new country, but instead it fueled violence and corruption.

According to the IMF, 7 out of 10 Nigerians live on less than $1 a day, and the life expectancy of the average Nigerian is in the mid 40s. In a country so rich in resources, something has gone horribly wrong. Yes, the government is to blame, but so is the wider society. From observing Nigerian relatives, it seems that far too many are at ease with ‘playing the game’. Handing over money to corrupt police men on the road to be able to finish your journey is one thing; but bribing the head of the national university acceptance exam board is another. This is not just accepting the system, but saying that this is fine. This is the way I, as a citizen, wish to live.

Where is the collective mentality? Where is the social consciousness? Human beings, are by nature selfish creatures, but we have to have some compassion for our peers otherwise nothing works, nothing functions.

Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka speaks on Nigeria’s ‘bloody decade’

The Nobel laureate described the past decade in Nigerian politics as ‘bloody’ and criticised the practice of suspected murderers being allowed to stand for election from their jail cell.

The Nobel winner slams Nigerian politics

These inflammatory comments were made last Thursday at the book launch of Microseconds Away From Death – written by former Chief Press Secretary to the Ogun State Governor, Mr. Wale Adedayo. Commenting on the violent nature of political proceedings in the country, Soyinka said: “A lot of assassinations and attempted assassinations have gone on. In fact, it has been a bloody decade. Of all these high profile murders, amazingly, none have been solved. It is really amazing. In some cases, suspected murderers are even sprung out of jail and stand elections right from their prison cell and are catapulted straight to some of the most powerful places in the law making houses of this nation.”

One example of criminals being ‘catapulted’ into positions of power is that of Theodore Orji. In 2007,  Orji was in prison on charges of financial fraud, yet managed to get elected as Governor of Abia State –  to takeover from Uzor Kalu, who was serving as governor at the time – and was said to have been the helping hand in Orji’s appointment.

So what do you think – is Soyinka justified in making such comments? What do you think of the circumstances around Theodore Orji’s appointment and his subsequent work in Abia?