Corruption: system vs. people

Are Nigerians inherently corrupt or the system that makes it easy to get away with looted funds to blame?

$2.1 bn is a lot of money in any country, more so in the case of Nigeria given the high poverty rate and the northeast Boko Haram insurgent.

Earlier this month former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki was arrested when it was clear the money allocated to fight Boko Haram was not used as intended. Since then, he has been dropping names as rotting wounds drop maggots.

Dasuki claimed to have distributed the money to different Nigeria politicians, supposed elders, awarding fake arm contracts by transferring money to different unregistered companies. And of course cash transfer to media houses for plenty of shoutouts – what a country!

Sounds awful but this is the reality of Nigeria. Corruption will only seize  when offenders pay for their crime.

All of these, Dasuki said was done following orders from ex President Jonathan Goodluck – no surprises there.

From what I have learnt in the last three decades in Nigeria, ex President Jonathan did not start corruption, however, he took it to the highest level in history.

Looking at all of these I wondered if Nigerians (including myself) are inherently corrupt so much so that it devoid any logic.

The way I see it is that one has to be completely stupid, evil, and everything in-between to receive a Ghana Must Go full of cash from a budget meant to fight security threat to the whole country.

A few months back a friend spoke to someone who is willing to invest in their business in Nigeria. The investor lives and works out of Nigeria. Like many in diaspora he is in touch with ‘home’ and wanted to help a friend grow her business as long as he gets the principal and a bit of interest back.

So he wanted to transfer some cash in US$ directly to the company account. This should be a straight forward transaction but nothing is straight forward in Nigeria.

The Nigeria company now wanted to set up a US$ domiciliary account – this makes it easier for owner to withdraw the cash in dollar and change it on the street for higher exchange rate.

Here is the twist:

Bank A in Nigeria says law regarding non naira dorm account has changed, that one needs to get a form signed by the EFCC for company to be verified. This will take about two weeks to set up.

Bank B says not to worry, you can transfer any amount from any country and your money is safe, EFCC has rules but we can bypass that as your company is very small. This will be done within 24 hours.

Given two conflicting information from two banks, friend asks for my advice. My response was to wait and do all the necessary paperwork required. Even when it means wasting a whole day for a needless trip to Lagos but it is better that way to make sure one is on the right side of the law.

To buttress my point, I said Nigeria would hesitate to prosecute Madam Iweala for approving Abacha’s recovered fund, $300M allegedly diverted to Sambo Dasuki illegally but Nigeria that I know will give no hearing space before jailing ordinary citizens because of $5k.

Not too surprising, my friend is a Nigerian to the core – ignored my advice and opted for the easy route – the one that bypassed the law and promised quick set up.

As it turned out, all that Bank B did was to get in touch with their agents in New York, collect their bank account numbers to give to the investor. This route is no good for anyone even if investing a kobo, money transfer agents receives commission for transactions and can not defend you if there is any problem.

All I said was “I told you so,” if you value your time and the help from the investor guy, ditch Bank B’s document and go with Bank A even if it takes a month to set up properly.

Need for middlemen is obsolete.

Getting the right information in Nigeria is very expensive. People often are given wrong information that literally means going against the law but it is often disguised under time saving advice.

Eventually, all this fight against corruption will die down, we are recovering some money already, maybe more will come. However, the bigger job that will last forever is to set up a system that makes it easy for ordinary people to abide by the law.

Categories: Africa, Nigeria, Politics

Tags: , , , ,

16 replies

  1. I would say that Nigerians are now inherently corrupt, prior to civilian administration there was a military rule and corruption existed then. The idea was that with ‘civilian’ rule, systems would be far more transparent and accountable so corruption would decrease – this has not proved to be the case. We have seen under two very different forms of government with the Nigerian people riddled with corruption.
    The system wasn’t perfect but it did prove workable when it was inherited from the British. Since then it has been progressively undermined by an ever daring people, to the extent that rather than pour scorn on such individuals and go after them, a blind eye or a casual mention in the press is all that such an offense draws from the public gaze. It is widely believed that stealing from government or any large corporate body is not a crime, but something to be emulated. Everyone wants overnight success, this has become widespread since the discovery of oil. So corruption has now diffused out from the halls of government to permeate every aspect of a functioning society be it law enforcement, any dealing with government, banks, schools, medicine even religious institutions are all tainted.
    Those who are caught do not face any admonition from their kith and kin, no matter how wrong the crime was. Government members are drawn from society, so if the overwhelming majority of them are corrupt, then this is a reflection of society itself. Those members did not grow up in a vacuum.
    People are saying Nigerians are no more corrupt than any other country, yet according to Transaparency National’s statistics, in 2014 Nigeria ranked 136 out of 174 nations in terms of being corrupt, which is nothing to write ‘home about’.
    However, we try to square it the facts are staring us in the face.


    • Hi jco – I agree with all that you said and I believe anyone who has a little interest in Nigeria would too – too obvious to dodge.

      Here I was saying the same thing about how nearly everyone will screw anyone up if given a chance and knew they’d get away with it. This is why I, even as a Nigerian thought maybe our blood has been poisoned so much that we are ‘born’ corrupt – well my hypothesis is not supported because the major reason people anywhere in the world over the years have learnt ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ is because there is appropriate punishment for the offenders (in most cases), also many civilised societies over the years have perfected documentation of what counts as crimes, so today even a little child do not need God to know stealing her friend’s pencil is bad.

      In Nigeria today most kids will tell you they don’t steal their friends’ pencil because God would not like that.

      My point here is that given how stealing & corruption has permeate our society, going after people will never solve our problem, offenders must be punished and their properties confiscated – this I believe will send stronger message.

      Anyway, I think most people realise we are corrupt to the core but nothing in our blood makes ordinary Nigerian corrupt than any other person after all we have millions of Nigerians both home and away who wouldn’t take advantage of others, abi?


      • That is true. (about the majority).
        But I would also say that many at ‘home’, if given an opportunity would be corrupt. If they found themselves in that position, they would behave like the previous person.
        It is not in the DNA, but has been incorporated into the culture and is often seen as something to laugh at, or that stealing from ‘government’ is not a bad thing.
        The laws against crime are well documented, it’s just that no one takes them seriously. How to change that is the proverbial million dollar question?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Completely agree with you. This is exactly my point with the article – bank worker rather than given accurate info to a customer takes advantage of their ignorance to gain free cash disguises behind ‘fast tracking’ process.

          No one will take laws against crime seriously if some people are excused from prosecution i.e high rank politicians, priests, Royals etc


  2. Folake my dear it’s a bone wearing system. I am virtually tired of looking at these things. The entire system is riddled with cancerous corruption.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your last sentence said it all.. “the bigger job that will last forever is to set up a system that makes it easy for ordinary people to abide by the law”….

    Corruption is the easier, more efficient way of life in Nigeria, period!!
    (Nigeria: The Gains of Corruption

    Liked by 1 person

    • See, Yas I had you I’m mind when I was writing this as I remember what you once said that given any opportunity, most Nigerians would opt to screw their fellow citizens up. The more I look, the more I believe you and it is simple, because they knew so well that they will get away with it. This is why they steal obsene amount of money so enough could go round to shut people up.

      Other countries I’ve lived in, people obey the law because they knew they are likely going to be caught so over the years most decent people wouldn’t need religion to stay honest in jobs and their day to day activities.

      Must must the link you posted.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nigerians are not any more corrupt but the laws in the books are never followed. But a teeth that may be implied from your statement is that there is something conducive to corrupt practices in the system that has seen just about all politicians into bare-face robbers.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. That is true, Our politicians have found a way to create a system whereby money buys just about everything including justice – the only people that gets prosecuted according to the law are the ‘small’ people.
      If sufficient evidence were found that those named were guilty, I really hope Buhari will deal with them according to the law of the land. Too many lives have been wasted due to their greed, they deserve no mercy.


  5. Fola, I don’t think Nigerians are any more corrupt than anyone else. Unfortunately, it is something that plagues us all. Perhaps governments have too much money and they certainly have far too much power. Shining a light on these deeds will help lesson it. Somehow these scoundrels still hope for respect. That’s a tough deal when you know what they have been up to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Leslie. This is what I have come to realise too, after living and working with people of different backgrounds, Nigerians are just like other people only lawless nation that favours bad guys.

      What we have on ground was a deliberate system that makes it so easy to loot and get away with it. Our guys are not even that sophisticated especially this last government, he ‘eats’ and just distribute freely knowing that they and their beneficiaries would get away with it all and if they didn’t it will be messy tracing all of them – which is what we have now.

      And on asking for respect, Nigerians looters just throw another bail of $s around to keep people quiet. Yes, they certainly have too much power, the money in their care kills all logic, obviously they were oblivious to the lives of 60% citizens.

      Liked by 1 person

Please leave comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: