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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 13th September 2018

Nigeria's Graft Domestic Product

Blue Lines

In time for the start of the election campaign season, Matthew Page of Chatham House has produced a compelling analysis of the 'Taxonomy for Corruption in Nigeria' for the Carnegie Foundation. Page offers a detailed guide to the types and mechanics of corruption in Nigeria whose common feature is the theft of public resources. It is a useful corrective to the blaming and shaming between rival parties ahead of next February's elections.

Page's taxonomy starts with a claim that 75% of journalists have accepted 'financial gifts' and that some media companies have received millions of dollars from ruling parties. It reports that the 2015 elections cost US$550 million to organise and the rival parties spent $2 billion. Almost all of that, most via criminal means, came from the public purse. Within government, corruption takes money from social investments, with the country's health and education services in continuing decline.

At the heart of the system is the oil and gas industry which generates most of the revenues that are stolen. The taxonomy also looks at trade-related corruption, how tariffs and import bans can benefit local monopolists. It has less to say about deliberate trade mispricing though which the experts at Global Financial Integrity reckon that Nigeria loses several billion dollars each year. Alongside sections on judicial and police corruption, the taxonomy refers to anti-corruption corruption; how the country's anti-graft agencies have served the ends of their political masters.