A recent New York Times article quoted the writing of Associate Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn and Pierre Englebert, who authored the book, “Inside African Politics.” The article focused on governmental corruption in Nigeria and quotes Dunn and Englebert:
“Corruption is a hallmark of African civil service and of its relations with citizens and firms.”
The New York Times describes payoffs to get through police and army highway checkpoints, bribery by Nigerian businesses in an effort to obtain permits and government procurements and in judicial issues. It asserts corruption in Nigeria “is not small-scale.”
“Since independence, some $400 billion in oil revenue has been stolen or is missing, a former World Bank vice president, Oby Ezekwesili, recently said.”
The article quotes Dunn and Englebert: “Everyone in civil service is to some extent a patron, with relatives and others who are lower on the social ladder forming expectations about the extent to which they will be taken care of.”
Dunn has written extensively on international relations and politics in Africa. In addition to “Inside African Politics” (2013), he is co-author of “Politics of Origin in Africa: Autochthony, Citizenship, and Conflict” (2013); and “African Guerrillas: Raging Against the Machine” (2007), among several other books. He’s also authored numerous articles on a diverse array of topics that have been printed in publications ranging from scholarly journals to an independent music magazine. In 2009, he produced, edited, and directed a documentary on the legendary band Stevie Stiletto, titled “My Life is Great: The Stevie Stiletto Story.”
Dunn has been a member of the HWS faculty since 2001. He received his Ph.D. from Boston University, M.A. from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and B.A. from Davidson College. Before joining the HWS faculty, he taught at Hartwick College, Boston University, Boston College, St. Anselm College, Tufts University and Appalachian State University. He is a visiting professor/friend of the faculty, faculty of development studies, Mbarara; University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda. In 2009, he was appointed honorary professor by the Senatus Academicus at the School of International relations at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, where he also served as a visiting scholar.
The full article as it appears on the New York Times online follows.
The New York Times
In Nigeria, Where Graft Is the System
Adam Nossiter • February 5, 2014
ABUJA, Nigeria – The Nigerian highway is full of surprises, many of them unpleasant. At numerous police and army “checkpoints,” money is expected to change hands. The driver smiles, the men in uniform smile, hands reach out, and the car goes on its way, with the passenger from abroad only wondering at how routine it seems.
This is not a flaw in the system. It is the system. Political scientists and ordinary citizens confirm it: Corruption, top to bottom, pervades life here, magnifying a continent-wide problem. And by some measures it is getting worse.
The omnipresence of developing-world corruption, particularly in Africa, is often hard for the occasional visitor to grasp. Bill Gates, for one, has recently expressed optimism about the issue. He is a faithful visitor and significant donor to Nigeria, a top focus for his foundation in Africa. Photographed in the smiling company of the country’s leaders, he has taken the lead in combating polio in the country and supports programs in agriculture, family health and financial services.
Unlike the citizens, analysts and others who have long-term exposure to corruption in Africa, Mr. Gates plays it down in the countries he is aiding – seeing it as a discrete problem that can be separated from the rest.
Others, though, view corruption as an integral element in the governance structure of these countries.
Mr. Gates wrote last month, addressing his developing-world efforts, that “more and more, technology will help in the fight against corruption. The Internet is making it easier for citizens to know what their government should be delivering – like how much money their health clinic should get – so that they can hold officials accountable.”
There is no evidence that this is occurring in Nigeria, or elsewhere in Africa.
African Internet users represented at most 7 percent of the world’s total in 2012. Even when knowledge of potential misspending seeps out, the result is often nothing. Nigerian journalists reported four months ago that the aviation minister, Princess Stella Oduah, had bought two armored BMWs for around $1.4 million for her use and that of “visiting foreign dignitaries,” as her spokesman put it. After a brief outcry, Ms. Oduah remains in office; at the principal international airport, Lagos, facilities for ordinary citizens remain a chaotic mess.
But exposure is the exception. Much in government spending, at all levels, remains hidden from the citizens. Moody’s warned potential Nigeria investors last May of a “history of opaque economic policymaking” and said that “public financial management, at both federal and state levels, remains opaque.”
Three-fourths of Nigerian and foreign companies reported “high bribery” in a 2007 study – in the obtaining of trade permits, in taxation matters, in government administration of procurement, and in matters relating to the judiciary. Nigeria is not alone: “Corruption is a hallmark of African civil service and of its relations with citizens and firms,” two American scholars of the continent, Pierre Englebert and Kevin C. Dunn, write in their new book, “Inside African Politics.”
Mr. Gates, in his letter defending the efficacy of aid to the developing world, wrote last month that “we should also remember the relative size of the problem. Small-scale corruption, such as a government official who puts in for phony travel expenses, is an inefficiency that amounts to a tax on aid.”
Corruption in Nigeria, though, is not small-scale. Since independence, some $400 billion in oil revenue has been stolen or is missing, a former World Bank vice president, Oby Ezekwesili, recently said. Corruption is fundamental to the way the country works – or doesn’t: “Everyone in civil service is to some extent a patron, with relatives and others who are lower on the social ladder forming expectations about the extent to which they will be taken care of,” Mr. Englebert and Mr. Dunn write.
At a second Nigeria “checkpoint” recently, furious military personnel refused to let the car bearing foreigners go. Another car pulled up, and a man with the badge of a senior Nigerian civil servant walked up. “Do you want to embarrass our nation in front of strangers?” he yelled at the soldiers. The car was allowed to go on.
A version of this article appears in print on February 5, 2014, in The International New York Times.