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Saturday, 11 February 2017


1. In 1947, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote that “Corruption is the greatest defect of the Native Court system.” He complained that not only did judges take bribes, people used their connections to enrich themselves and avoid punishment for their crimes. He also wrote that in the north, a new Emir always removed all the people appointed by the previous Emir and replaced them with his own people.

2. In 1950, Abubakar Tafewa Balewa said ‘the twin curses of bribery and corruption pervade every rank and department of government’. At that time, the word ‘awoof’ was already being used to describe how civil servants used their positions to enrich themselves.
3.In 1952, an anti-corruption campaigner named Eyo A. Akak complained that Nigerians were abandoning farming for trade due to materialism and consumerism. He said that every ex-serviceman now wanted to own a Raleigh bicycle before going back to his village while every civil servant wanted to own a car. He even blamed women (partly) for this because all of them only wanted to marry rich men.

4. In 1968, a Polish-British sociologist named Stanislav Andreski coined the term ‘kleptocracy’ to describe the system of government he found in Nigeria. He said ‘Nigeria is the most perfect example of kleptocracy since power itself rests on the ability to bribe’.

5. In 1975, a report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the shortage of petroleum products found that a lot of the petrol being imported into Nigeria (due to the inability of the Port-Harcourt refinery to meet local demand) was being smuggled to Chad and Niger Republic. As soon as NNPC was formed, people swarmed around it and all sorts of people got crude oil lifting contracts.

6.The US Embassy in Paris reported in 1973 that a random American walked into the Embassy and showed them a contract he had to lift 2 million tons of Nigerian crude oil. He told the Embassy that ‘a great deal of under the table payments were taking place in Nigeria to obtain crude oil’.

7.Around 1979, a British bank, Johnson Matthey collaborated with the Central Bank of Nigeria to export huge amounts of forex from Nigeria on behalf of politicians like Alhaji Umaru Dikko in contravention of foreign exchange controls. The bank later collapsed due to unsecured loans to Nigeria and had to be bailed out by the Bank of England with £100m in 1984 – the first time the Bank of England had ever rescued a private bank in British history. It also led to the passing of the Insolvency Act by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1986. One of the directors of the bank, Vasant Advani, ran to Nigeria in 1986 but returned to the UK in 2008 for treatment when he was diagnosed with cancer. In 2011, at the age of 67, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison for the fraud that brought down that bank. No official on the Nigerian side, to the best of my knowledge, was ever convicted.

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