Experiencing high levels of poverty and corruption, Nigeria is widely perceived as the quintessential resource cursed country. Yet, the oil exporter nonetheless underwent a democratic transition with its March 2015 elections. The explanation for this puzzle partly lies in the recent fall in oil prices and related government revenues, which limited patronage spending before the elections. Applying a political ecology lens to the case, however, also points towards deeper explanations: the costs and benefits of Nigerian oil extraction have been very unevenly distributed allowing the formation of new, and the destruction of old, political alliances. Keywords: Nigeria, elections, democracy, oil revenues, patronage, capital flight
Edited by Inge Amundsen
This introductory chapter outlines the distinctions between, on the one hand, political and bureaucratic corruption, and, on the other hand, between extractive and power-preserving corruption. It is argued that the two distinctions are important to understand the breadth and depth of political corruption: political corruption is two interrelated processes that often destroy economies and democracies. The first is what is called extractive political corruption, which is when political power-holders are enriching themselves by abusing their hold on power to extract from public and private resources. Extractive political corruption is bribery, embezzlement, and fraud for the benefit of individual power-holders and for the regime as such. Bribe taking in public procurement processes is often the biggest source. The second is what is called extractive political corruption, which is when political power-holders are using the corruptly acquired means (and other state resources and privately held means), in illicit or immoral ways, to maintain and/or strengthen their hold on power. Power-preserving political corruption is to build political support, protection and impunity. It includes favouritism (of which nepotism and clientelism is well known), co-optations and the fraudulent manipulation of institutions. The buying of votes in elections and parliaments is often a part of the picture. Finally, the chapter argues that the distinction has wide-ranging consequences for research on corruption, because these qualitatively distinct social phenomena require different analytical frameworks, conceptual models, and investigation and data collection methods.
The final chapter summarises some of the findings of the previous country analyses, against the background of the conceptual pair of extractive and power-preserving political corruption. It is argued that the power-preserving form of political corruption, fed by extractive political corruption, is holding back democratic developments in Sub-Sahara Africa. It is also argued that the perspective on the extractive and power-preserving practices of the ruling elite is important, particularly when the two mechanisms of political corruption feed into each other, creating an evil circle of extraction and reinvestment in power: when ruling elites engage in extractive corruption to preserve their power, and this power is abused to extract further. It is concluded that this seems to be the case in most of the country examples in this book. It can be deducted from the analyses that the riches extracted through political corruption to a large extent are providing the means to retain control of the state. Numerous examples are presented of situations in which the proceeds of extraction are reinvested in power, which goes way beyond the usual understanding of extractive corruption as driven by greed. An effective restriction of these regime-enhancing forms of political corruption seems to require an economic crisis and sustained and politically skilled external and internal pressures.
Extraction and Power Preservation
Edited by Inge Amundsen
Emmanuel Oladipo Ojo, Vaclav Prusa and Inge Amundsen
This chapter analyses political corruption in Nigeria through the trajectory of a number of scandals and their background. It underscores the resilience of political corruption in the country, where the problem is inflated by the size of the economy (second-biggest economy in Africa), population size (roughly 200 million), and an open economy with vast revenues from oil and gas (Africa’s largest oil exporter). Despite some positive trends, like the relatively free media, a vibrant civil society, reasonably free elections, and so on, the justice system is twisted and gives the perpetrators impunity. Political corruption is a ‘quasi-legitimised’ tool to advance party, personal and political gains, and frequently all at the same time. In Nigeria, political corruption has not only grown in leaps and bounds – it has become systemic, diversified and variegated, and its power-preservation methods rank among the crudest and cruellest. The occupiers of political power deploy all available weapons in their political armoury – fair, foul, constitutional, extra-constitutional, judicial or extra-judicial – to perpetuate themselves and their political parties in power and thus continue to preside over the system of rents and rewards. The need for inclusion of ever-wider social groups in a system of ‘competitive clientelism’ makes Nigeria’s ‘informal redistribution’ a likely feature of the political settlement also in the future, meaning that rent capture will continue and that rent recipients ‘will be difficult to discipline’.