Anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria (1999-2007): The Politics of a Failed Reform (Leiden: African Studies Centre, 2012)

By Magbadelo, John Olushola | The Journal of Political Science, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria (1999-2007): The Politics of a Failed Reform (Leiden: African Studies Centre, 2012)


Magbadelo, John Olushola, The Journal of Political Science


David U. Enweremadu, Anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria (1999-2007): The Politics of a Failed Reform (Leiden: African Studies Centre, 2012), xx, 198.

There is no gainsaying the obvious fact that corruption is the bane of Nigeria's developmental challenges. It is at the very heart of our country's failings in every sphere since its emancipation from colonial rule. The cancerous rot that has continued to impair the growth potentials of the country seems to have defied every therapy. It was estimated that Nigeria had lost to corruption as much as $400 billion in a period from 1966 to 1999. Yet, corruption in Nigeria preceded 1966 and has continued ever since, even beyond 2007 with greater ferocity and intensity.

This book chronicles the major steps taken by the Nigerian leadership under the Obasanjo Administration (1999-2007) to deal with corruption in the country. Essentially, according to the author, the book sought to answer the five questions: i) How effective have market and institutional reforms been in checking corruption in Nigeria since 1999? ii) Why has corruption remained pervasive in Nigeria under the fourth Republic (1999 to date) despite an avalanche of policies and programmes designed to fight graft and the often-restated commitment of Nigerian Presidents to bring corrupt officials to book? iii) What else could be done to achieve a significant reduction in the level of corruption in Nigeria? iv) Given the plethora of failed anti-corruption programmes around the world, what factors could have led to the success of the anti-corruption battle in Nigeria? v) Was President Obasanjo's anti-corruption campaign genuine or mere political grandstanding?

It is interesting that the author did not provide any direct answers to the above questions. He rather chose to analyze the circumstances that predisposed President Obasanjo to the anti-corruption campaign, which he vehemently prosecuted. Situating the anti-corruption campaign of the Obasanjo years within the context of its historicity, the author is of the belief that President Obasanjo being a rational leader assessed the benefits of embarking on such campaigns - in terms of the instant and enduring legitimacy it confers on his regime, the international credibility and recognition of his administration as well as the intrinsic personal satisfaction he derives from such venture being a co-founder of Transparency International - and opted without hesitation to wage the anti-corruption war. The motif force of the anti-corruption crusade notwithstanding, the post-Obasanjo years have vividly portrayed the arduous and daunting nature of the task of sustaining and institutionalizing that crusade.

The book under review contains eight chapters in all. The first chapter provides the background to the study, summarizing the historical import and underpinnings of the anti-corruption drive of Obasanjo Administration. The second chapter analyzes the processes and the politics that culminated in the establishment of anti-corruption agencies while detailing the powers and responsibilities of the two agencies (ICPC and EFCC). The third chapter highlights the series of Judicial and Public Service reforms implemented by the administration. The fourth chapter analyzes the efforts of the administration in effecting the recovery of the country's looted funds from their international safe havens. The fifth chapter identifies the challenges militating against the effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies including limited capacity, strong opposition of state governments, and weak engagement of civil society. The sixth chapter chronicles the conceptual confusion that federalism throws-up when the national import of the anti-corruption pursuit of Obasanjo Administration was considered against the backdrop of the presumed autonomy of state governments. The seventh chapter examines the roles of the Nigerian civil society in the anti-corruption fight; noting that even though non-state actors often play marginal roles in the formulation of anti-corruption policy, they are key players in its execution. …

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