Nigeria's Corruption Rhetoric Won't Fix The Oil Sector

Posted by Bayo Okoya - Delta Analytics Lagos


In Nigeria ‘corruption' has so many forms, so many connotations and occurs in so many settings that it has become a loaded and vague term.

At its most benign, it greases the wheels of a transaction, gets you in the room, bumps you to the front of the line.

At its most malign, it undermines the fabric of a meritocratic capitalist democracy.

The oil sector in Nigeria is riddled with corruption. It was always widely known, but since the revelations around the former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke have come to light, it has been unavoidable in the press.

Speaking in Nigeria this month, the head of Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, stated that they were attempting to extradite Alison-Madueke from London to face trial in Nigeria for massive corruption and money laundering.

President Buhari came to power on the promise of going after those who have diverted funds into their own pockets and away from legitimate recipients. The oil sector – being the biggest source of revenue for the state – has become a primary target in the fight against graft.

Magu claims that the EFCC are unstoppable in the fight against corruption, despite claiming virtually no major convictions in his mission to stamp out graft.

But what is truly audacious is this: Magu states that “Every evil that is happening now is caused by corruption: agitations, strikes, whatever.” Can this really be true? Every evil?

This clumsy generalisation is revealing. If corruption is the source of all the nation's problems, it excuses the Government (and private individuals) of all other failings: poor administration, weak political leadership, economic mismanagement, and all the ills this entails.

The Federal Government's obsession with corruption may be a vote-winner. But it is neither a success, and nor is the source of all Nigeria's ills. The fanatical drive against corruption is therefore making little progress against legitimate evils in the country, and is being deployed in such a way that is permitting inaction in the fight against many more.

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