Extraction and Power Preservation
Edited by Inge Amundsen
Chapter 4: Congenitally conjoined and inseparable: politics and corruption in Nigeria
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’.
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