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260 Since Nigeria’s transition from military to civilian rule in 1999, the country has witnessed an unprecedented official campaign against political corruption. Whereas previous attempts to combat this endemic and systematic malaise were largely ad hoc, arbitrary, rhetorical, ineffectual, or counterproductive in nature or impact, the post-1999 anti-corruption campaign has involved the establishment or revitalization of three national anti-corruption agencies, namely, the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT); the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). These agencies have spearheaded the unprecedented investigations , indictments, prosecutions, convictions, and dismissals of key public figures, such as the vice-president of the federation, the head of the national police force, the leadership of the National Assembly, federal ministers, and state governors for their corrupt behavior or abuse of office, thereby enhancing (albeit modestly) the country’s global integrity and transparency indices.1 Yet, political corruption remains rife, endemic, persistent, and lethal in Nigeria. As claimed by Human Rights Watch in a report on Nigeria’s fraudulent and violent 2007 elections: “the conduct of many public officials and government institutions is so pervasively marked by violence and corruption as to more resemble criminal activity than democratic governance.”2 Indeed, far from signaling the onset of an anti-corruption revolution in Nigeria, the record of the country’s anti-corruption crusade since 1999 may illustrate the constraints and contradictions that can vex and stymie such campaigns in societies where corruption is entrenched within the political elite and anti-corruption bodies are not effectively insulated from manipulation by this elite. 10 The Travails of Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Crusade rotimi t. suberu 10 0328-0 ch10.qxd 7/15/09 3:50 PM Page 260 This chapter looks at corruption from the top down and, therefore, complements the grassroots approach that Smith adopts in his chapter for this volume.3 Ordinary Nigerians may be“active participants in the social reproduction of corruption,” but the principal perpetrators are elite politicians at national and subnational levels.4 The petty corruption that takes place ubiquitously in Nigeria is conspicuously trivial compared to the monumental corruption that is orchestrated at the upper reaches of the country’s society and polity. Indeed, a politico-institutional perspective on corruption in Nigeria provides a more proximate and somewhat less cynical and complacent analysis of this problem than the cultural and structural perspectives adopted by Smith and many other observers of Nigeria. The social reproduction of corruption argument is crucially valuable to highlight the cultural underpinnings of political corruption in Nigeria. Such foundations include the blurring of public and private roles, the sons-of-the-soil syndrome, and widespread expectations of gift giving, nepotism, and favoritism. This culture of corruption is structurally rooted in the country’s ethnic fragmentation (reflecting its relative artificiality and infancy as a post-colonial state), economic underdevelopment, and attendant statism (the sweeping control of the state over the economy). Such statism has been profoundly aggravated by Nigeria’s emergence as a major oil exporter since the 1970s. By placing enormous amounts of money at the disposal of governmental officials and political leaders, the country’s oil wealth has fuelled political corruption and undermined transparency efforts. This wealth has also effectively aborted the fiscal nexus of accountability between state and society that is entailed by public taxation of the population, as distinct from governmental expropriation of natural resource rents.Yet, whatever may be its underlying structural foundations or cultural ramifications, the pervasive incidence or persistence of high-level political corruption clearly points to the absence of effective horizontal and vertical institutions of accountability that can expose, punish , and thus deter corruption. Because such institutions are crucial but often lacking, this chapter focuses on the nature and roles of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies, the impediments that have undermined their effectiveness and credibility, and the prospects for more effective anti-corruption reforms. Following an overview of the evolution of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies, the chapter outlines the pervasiveness of corruption in Nigeria, identifies five key impediments to the effectiveness of the organizations that are designed to combat the problem, and concludes with a summary of the main findings and their implications. The Travails of Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Crusade 261 10 0328-0 ch10.qxd 7/15/09 3:50 PM Page 261 The Evolution of Nigeria’s Anti-Corruption Institutions When it obtained its independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria...


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