ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN IN NIGERIA (1999-2007). The Politics of a Failed Reform David U. Enweremadu. Presentation Outline. Part I: The Fourth Republic and the Question of Corruption
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The Politics of a Failed Reform
David U. Enweremadu
Background of Study
- On May 29 1999, Nigeria launched a comprehensive anti-corruption policy, following the election of President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military ruler and long time crusader against corruption.
- The election of Obasanjo came at a time of rising domestic awareness of the socio-economic cost of corruption and dramatic changes in international attitude towards countries perceived as corrupt. This issues helped make corruption a major topic during the election and indeed throughout the tenure of Obasanjo
- The seriousness of corruption in Nigeria was underlined by the voting of the country as the world’s `second most corrupt nation in 1999 (TI, 1999), just weeks before Obasanjo was elected, and most corrupt in 2000 (TI, 2000), as well as the sharp decline in most macro-economic indicators and living standards of most Nigerians despite huge oil revenue.
- As soon as Obasanjo was sworn into office as President, he rolled out some reform measures to tackle corruption. These measures centred around the creation of new anti-corruption commissions (ACCs), reform of public bureaucracy and a well publicized campaign to recover looted assets from overseas.
This study seeks to answer four specific questions:
a. What motivated President Obasanjo to launch an anti-corruption campaign in 1999
b. What were the specific measures taken to fight corruption?
c. How effective were these measures. i. e. their contributions to fighting
d. Why is Obasanjo’s campaign against widely perceived as a failure despite it
prominence in the governments policy agenda and comprehensive nature
Definition of Corruption
characterised by the appearance of Weberian ‘legal-rational’ administration, but beneath the trappings of formal bureaucracy, procedural rules, and law, are based upon networks of personal loyalty and patron-client ties. Power is typically concentrated in a single ruler or a narrow oligarchy at the apex of a clientelist pyramid. Public and private resources are melded, as state assets come under the discretionary control of political elites, and public office serves as a conduit for private accumulation (Lewis, 1996;99).
* While in power President Obasanjo conceived and implemented a number of measures to fight corruption. One was the creation of the « Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) » on the 29th September 2000 and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in April 2004, which became the single most important step taken by the President to actualise his anti-corruption policy.
* The creation of these agencies was to placate growing domestic and international pressures.
However, it also reflected some degree of political commitment (Obasanjo was a founding member of TI)
* Although this will not be the first time anti-corruption agencies would be created in Nigeria, the coming of these agencies, especially the ICPC, raised a lot controversies, mainly because of the extent of their powers (EFCC was erroneously conceived as a tool to non-state actors)
* According to Section 6(a-f) of the ICPC Act, ICPC will receive and investigate complaints from members of the public on allegations of corrupt malpractices and in appropriate cases prosecute the offenders, examine the practices, systems and procedures of public bodies and where such systems aid corruption direct and supervise the review and to instruct, advise and assist any officer, agency or parastatals on the ways fraud or corruption may be eliminated or minimised by them. But the ICPC could only prosecute corruption in the public sector and offences committed after the passage of the Act in July 2000. These and other limitations constrained the effectiveness of the ICPC.
* After their inauguration the two ACAs took several important steps to actualise their mandates.
1. Public Service
- Privatisation of Public Enterprises;
- Reforms in Management of public finance (Transparence and Strict Application of Financial Regulations in or due Process; Publication of Revenue Allocations to all Tiers of Government & Monetization of the Benefits of Public Officials
- Reinforcing Administrative Capacity (changes in Employment, Retrenchment and Remuneration policies)
2. Judicial Reforms
- Reforms Aimed at Improving Judicial Capacity (UNODC; 2001-2003)
- Reforms Designed to Restore the Integrity of the Judiciary (NJC & FJSC)
of looted public funds abroad (Sindzingre, 1997; United Nations, 2002). Much of the
estimated $350 to 400 billion siphoned by Nigeria’s political class is believed to be in foreign, mainly western financial institutions
While this practice was tolerated in the past, since the 90’s, attention has shifted to how some of the these funds could be returned to help grow national economies. This idea is that, effective asset recovery, will not only help these poor countries redress the worst effects of corruption, it will also help send a strong message to corrupt officials that there will be no place to hide their illicit assets (Brinkerhoff, 1999).
However, Nigeria’s quest to recover looted assets stashed abroad was largely provoked by revelations that followed Abacha’s death in June 1998, when it emerged that the former dictator and some cronies had siphoned billions of public funds into private oversea accounts. Between the time of his death and May 1999, General Abubakar (Abacha’s successor) recovered $825 million from Abacha”s family members, leaving a total of $1,3 billion frozen in several banks in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein (TI, 2004;102). All the funds were recovered within Nigeria.
The effectiveness of a public policy, especially in terms of it being able to achieve its stated goal, largely depends on institutional capacity (powers, resources and leadership of implementation organs) and political will (support of major actors, including national leaders, local elites and members of civil society (Moharir, 2002;113; Fischer, 1995Goodin, 1996;41).