June 25, 2005


Nigeria comes clean and shows the way for Africa (Daily Telegraph 25/06/2005)

President Olusegun Obasanjo served as military ruler of Nigeria during the period surveyed by the EFCC, but as a civilian head of state he has taken four important steps to tackle corruption. He has set up the commission, under Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and given it teeth. He has appointed the extremely able Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as finance minister. He has sacked two members of his Cabinet and the national police chief, all of whom have been charged with malfeasance. And he has set up an excess crude earnings account, into which goes all the revenue earned from oil above the $25 a barrel on which Nigeria bases its budget. With the price over twice that sum, the account holds £4.6 billion. Previously, that excess would have disappeared without trace, the main reason for the country's egregious level of embezzlement; now it is open to public scrutiny.

Mr Obasanjo has made a start on rooting out a systemic evil. [...]

[I]t would be helpful if Nigeria could be rewarded with limited debt cancellation and increased aid by the creditor nations, to demonstrate to Africa south of the Sahara that good governance pays. Of greater practical, as opposed to symbolic, importance would be the opening of Western markets to local products.

Nigeria, with its long periods of military rule and the deeply corrupting effect of oil wealth, has been the despair of Africa. Under Mr Obasanjo, who oversaw the transition to an earlier period of civilian rule in 1979 and was twice democratically elected in 1999 and 2003, the country has begun to change for the better. If that continues, the potential is enormous. As a businessman told David Blair: "We are a volcano of opportunities waiting to erupt."

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 25, 2005 9:52 AM

It's nice to know that Daily Telegraph reporters get to augment their incomes by writing puff pieces for thuggish dictators, who aren't Saudis.

There is a report on Drudge that Nigerian rulers have stolen or misused over 220 billion British pounds over the last two decades. Lagos Airport is famous for being perhaps the world's most dangerous. It is the only airport I know of, and I've flown there, where there is a real fear of bandits blockading the runway after a plane has landed, forcing the plane to stop taxi-ing and then boarding and robbing the passengers at gunpoint. The Bight of Biafra is one of the leading piracy zones in the world. Argh, shiver me timbers!

Posted by: bart at June 25, 2005 11:07 AM

"We are a volcano of opportunities waiting to erupt."

Ya, they might erupt, but it won't be with opportunities.

Posted by: Bartelson at June 25, 2005 11:37 AM

Everyone who runs an airport has stolen taxpayer money.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 12:07 PM

$220 billion "Euros" down the tubes during the past 40 years, no more.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 25, 2005 4:33 PM

I suppose that a hundred years ago just about every politician had to make at least a symbolic committment to "Christian values" if he was going to get anywhere. Now it seems de rigeur to wring one's hands and promise to try and cure African poverty. These guys know a good gig when they see one.

Posted by: Peter B at June 25, 2005 5:02 PM

Dear Judd:

You will be surprised perhaps that I write you in this manner though we have not been know eadch other. I am a Nigerian volcano of opportunities waiting to erupt. Please send me your banking information to that I may erupt for you.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 25, 2005 5:03 PM

I'm drinking a new brand of beer -- "Hazed and Infused" from Boulder Brewery -- that really, really burns when you snort it. Thanks a lot, David.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 25, 2005 7:01 PM

I'm not falling for that one...again...

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 8:39 PM

Well, if the scams don't work, perhaps their women will charge naked through the streets of Nashua.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 26, 2005 11:49 PM

They have 4.6 billion in the bank; shouldn't they now need less aid?

Posted by: at June 27, 2005 3:50 AM