Taxonomy of Nigeria’s Endemic Corruption

Matthew T. Page
Matthew T. Page

The Carnegie Carnegie Endowment for International Peace just published a report titled “A new taxonomy for corruption in Nigeria.” It’s author, Matthew Page, identifies more than 500 types of graft. As he puts it, corruption ranges “from the jaw-dropping, to the creative, to the mundane.”

It includes “the oil minister who diverted billions of petrodollars in just a few years. … the local official who claimed a snake slithered into her office and gobbled up $100,000 in cash. … the cop shaking down motorists for 25 cents apiece at makeshift checkpoints.”

Post-colonial era: national, continental and international corruption

Nigeria amplifies and magnifies corruption, taking it at a larger scale than perhaps anywhere on the continent. But it shares the plague with all the other countries. Since the so-called independence series of the 1960s, corruption has become widespread, embedded, endemic. It affects the public and private sectors in secret or open ways, at micro- and macro-levels. It involves the heads of state, senior and junior civil servants, business people, sworn-in officials in the legislative, judiciary and executive branches of government. It is externally induced and domestically perpetrated.

Pastoralists and agriculturalists of Nigeria, Unite!
Nigeria. Soldiers As Policymakers (1960s-1970s)

For corruption in Guinea, see for instance:

Conakry : plaque-tournante de l’Escroquerie internationale
Mahmoud Thiam. Seven Years in Prison
Guinea Mining. Exploiting a State on the Brink of Failure
Sales temps pour les amis d’Alpha Condé
France – Guinée : Bolloré et Condé

An uneven struggle

Run by knowledgeable and dedicated individuals, anti-corruption  institutions and programs are actively at work in Nigeria. However, they face an uphill battle and an uneven struggle; and the eradication of the practice, remains, indeed,  a herculean task.  This report underscores that:

«… corruption stymies Nigeria’s boundless potential, hamstringing the petroleum, trade, power and banking sectors and more. In the defense sector, it compounds security challenges in hotspots like the Lake Chad Basin, Middle Belt and Niger Delta. In the police, judiciary and anti-corruption agencies, it undermines the country’s already-anaemic accountability mechanisms, thereby fueling further corruption across the spectrum.
It also rears its head in politics through electoral manipulation and the kleptocratic capture of party structures. “Brown envelope journalism” undermines democratic norms and the media’s ability to hold leaders accountable. Meanwhile, it is Nigeria’s most vulnerable that are worst affected when graft, fraud and extortion permeate the educational, health and humanitarian sectors.
Corruption in Nigeria, and elsewhere, is highly complex. It can take a variety of different but inter-related forms. Its effects can span across several disparate sectors. Yet most existing frameworks for studying corruption share a common shortcoming: they conflate how corruption occurs (i.e. tactics and behaviors) with where it occurs (i.e. which sector). This can muddle our understanding of an already complicated issue and prevent policymakers, practitioners and analysts from thinking about Nigeria’s greatest challenge in more sophisticated and nuanced ways.»

Matthew T. Page is a consultant and co-author of Nigeria: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2018). His appointments include a  nonresident fellowship with the Centre for Democracy and Development in Abuja.
The 42-page PDF report is accessible below.

Caveat. The title of the report is, in part, a misnomer with respect to the use of the word taxonomy.  An SKOS standard-based approach would have yielded a vocabulary, i.e. a neat classification and a cogent hierarchy of broad(er)/narrow(er) terms. Overall,  though, the content of the paper is facts-based and well-referenced. Despite its shallow historical timeline, which begins at “independence” in 1960 and thus fails to include the continuity with, and the lasting impact of the colonial period.
My SemanticVocabAfrica website instantiates a real—continental and worldwide—taxonomy/vocabulary. It currently contains the Fulɓe, Languages, Outline of Cultural Materials, and Peoples vocabularies. The last two are drawn respectively from the HRAF project and from Murdock’s 1959 book. Both are updated and annotated with Wikipedia and Worldcat links and references, and other authoritative sources. In addition, I expand the book with MindNode mappings for data visualization. Last, I have added three main entries: African Jews, Caucasian Africans, Diaspora.

Tierno S. Bah

Alpha Condé aux abois pour un 3è mandat

Bruno Lemaire, ministre français de l’économie, et Président Alpha Condé à Paris, 16 novembre 2017

Une pluie de promesses

Chaque fois qu’il séjourne en Chine, le président Alpha Condé joue au démagogue et dénonce l’impérialisme occidental.… Mais voilà que depuis hier il se tourne vers Paris pour miroiter un Plan condamné à n’être qu’une chimère, du fait même de la gestion chaotique des biens publics par son régime. RFI claironne :

« Plus de 300 investisseurs publics et privés sont réunis à Paris jeudi et vendredi pour aider la Guinée à financer son plan de développement national. La Guinée a besoin de 13 milliards de dollars ces trois prochaines années pour financer ses grands travaux et rendre le pays plus attractif. D’ores et déjà, les bailleurs de fonds internationaux ont mis sur la table près de 5,5 milliards de dollars, et la France va contribuer à hauteur de 600 millions de dollars. »

Jeune Afrique renchérit :

« 12,6 milliards de dollars d’engagements fermes ont été pris durant les deux jours de discussions entre le gouvernement guinéen et ses partenaires à Paris. Avec les appuis du FMI et de l’IFC, ainsi que les 6 milliards promis par la Chine dans un autre cadre, les financements dépasseront les 20 milliards de dollars, quand la Guinée en espérait 14,6. »

C’est presque une pluie de promesses. Mais de quel plan s’agit-il ? Triennal, quinquennal, décennal ? Qui l’a conçu, préparé et rédigé ? Où en Guinée a-t-il été examiné, amendé et ratifié ? Par quelles institutions ?

Proverbe et réalité

S’exprimant hier à Paris durant le marathon de levée de fonds pour son Plan national de développement économique et social, M. Condé aurait déclaré : « Pour attirer des mouches, il faut du miel. » La métaphore est plaisante à lire ou entendre. Mais c’est une phrase en l’air, vide. Elle me rappelle l’anecdote selon laquelle durant l’effort de guerre 1939-45, un commandant de cercle du Tchad ou de l’Oubangui-Chari (actuelle République Centrafricaine) fut sommé constamment de livrer des quantités de miel à la Métropole. Or la région où il exerçait n’avait même pas de ruches d’abeilles. Excédé, il répondit finalement à ses supérieurs : « D’accord pour miel. Stop. Envoyez abeilles. Stop. » Il fut puni et relevé de ses fonctions.

Le proverbe repris par Alpha Condé évoque, dans une certaine mesure, le dilemme du commandant colonial mentionné ci-dessus. Et il est plus sérieusement contredit par les réalité guinéennes. Au point que les investisseurs potentiels feraient bien de dire au président :
— “D’accord, monsieur le président, nous aimerions bien être vos mouches. Mais où trouverions-nous le miel dans votre pays ?”
Alpha n’a pas de réponse à cette simple question. En effet, après sept ans de sa présidence la Guinée n’a rien de mielleux et de sucré. Au contraire, elle est aigre et acidulée, pimentée et extra-salée. Pour s’en convaincre, il suffit de demander l’opinion des populations, qui tirent le diable par la queue. Et qui luttent pitoyablement pour la pitance du jour, dans un calvaire quotidien.
Le pays ne fournit simplement pas des bases élémentaires et des structures fonctionnelles capables d’exploiter en toute transparence et de faire fructifier les US$20 milliards PROMIS pour financer le plan présidentiel.

Drôle de Plan

Le gouvernement parle d’un Plan quinquennal couvrant  la période 2016-2020. Arithmétiquement l’addition  (ou la soustraction) donne quatre au lieu de cinq ans. Avec deux ans environ déjà écoulés. En d’autres termes, le gouvernement s’est endormi sur ce dossier pendant 24 mois ! Il se réveille soudain. Et le voilà qui invite 300 personnes à Paris, aux frais du contribuable, pour une méga-quête financière incertaine. Car on ne réalise rien avec des promesses. Il faut  des projets bancables exécutés par des gestionnaires compétents. Or Alpha Condé est le premier à décrier le manque de  cadres expérimentés. Curieusement,  lui, le “professeur”, ne lève pas son petit doigt pour tenter de résoudre ce problème fondamental. Pas étonnant de la part d’un président qui n’a pas tenu sa promesse électorale d’octroyer une tablette à chaque étudiant. Cela dit, une  bonne planification commence par l’identification  des sources et méthodes de financement  avant  le lancement. Le contraire revient à mettre la charrue devant les boeufs. C’est exactement ce qu’a fait M. Alpha Condé. Car c’est en fin 2017, au seuil de 2018, qu’il cherche à financer un plan démarré en 2016 ! C’est pas drôle ! Il est évident qu’il se moque éperdument de son son propre Plan. Il s’en sert simplement pour faire du tapage, monter un tape-à-l’oeil et jeter de la poudre aux yeux du public guinéen. Son but réel est d’orchester éventuellement une campagne pour un troisième mandat inconstitutionnel. Ce qu’il n’obtiendra pas. Il lui faudra alors passer outre la volonté du Peuple en modifiant, arbitrairement et à des fins égoïstes, la Loi fondamentale du pays.

Mama Kanny Diallo. Paris, novembre 2017
Mama Kanny Diallo

Lire l’interview de Mama Kanny Diallo, ministre du Plan et de la coopération, ex-épouse d’Alpha. Elle révèle que les projets d’investissements  agricoles mettent l’accent sur “la relance des cultures d’exportation telles que celles de la production d’ananas, de café et d’anacarde.” L’approche est erronée.  Au nom de la sécurité alimentaire on doit plutôt accorder la priorité à la production vivrière :  agriculture (riz, fonio, maïs, manioc, mil, igname, etc.), élevage (viande, lait, beurre, fromage, etc.), cueillette (karité, palmistes, fruits, feuilles, etc.), pêche (poisson, fruits de mer, acquaculture, etc.). Les cultures d’exportation créent une dépendance économique et financière similaire à celle engendrée par l’exploitation — sans transformation locale — des produits miniers bruts.

Environnement inadéquat

En septembre dernier Alpha Condé annonça avoir obtenu un autre prêt de US$20 milliards par la Chine à la Guinée. En octobre, il exposa devant la presse son plan-directeur d’une nouvelle ville de Conakry ! Il confond apparemment architecture et urbanisme. Et il croit que les habitants de la capitale sont de la volaille. Et qu’il suffit de bâtir des cages de poulaillers de type HLM pour moderniser la cité !… En fait une ville est un ensemble complexe de réseaux de transports (routes, chemins de fer, aéroports), de communication (Internet, Web), de santé (égoûts, de parcs, espaces verts), de quartiers résidentiels et commerciaux, de bibliothèques, de marchés, édifices, monuments, cimetières, etc.

En dehors de l’entourage d’Alpha et de lui-même, les Guinéens ne sont dupes de ces publicités fracassantes. Elles rappellent la mascarade en cours, qui fait de Conakry la capitale mondiale du livre. Alors que le pays est en majorité analphabète après 60 ans bientôt de souveraineté.

Répétons-le, la Guinée n’est pas équippée pour absorber et rentabiliser les quelque US$40 milliards qui viendraient de Beijing et de Paris. Le pays ne remplit pas les conditions nécessaires et indispensables pour employer rationnellement de tels montants de capitaux. Même si l’on étale l’exécution dans un futur plus ou moins distant. L’environnement est faible et inadéquat. Il érige de sérieux obstacles pour les investisseurs les plus “généreux”. Comme exemples de pièges on peut citer les suivants :

  • Faible qualité d’éducation
  • Faiblesse de la production et de la distribution d’eau, d’énergie et de nourriture
  • Système de santé précaire
  • Mise à l’écart du paysannat
  • Chômage endémique d’adultes et de jeunes
  • Analphabétisme prédominant
  • Main-d’oeuvre qualifiée rare
  • Monnaie non-convertible
  • Secteur bancaire anémique
  • Absence d’épargne domestique
  • Dépendance totale vis-à-vis des bailleurs étrangers bi ou multilatéraux
  • Réseau de communication numérique embryonnaire
  • Transports archaiques
  • Inféodation de la justice et du parlement au pouvoir exécutif
  • Pauvreté galopante
  • Criminalité et impunité

Alpha Condé aux abois pour un 3è mandat

Depuis sa première investiture, M. Condé a, comme il l’avait promis, ramené la Guinée là où président Sékou Touré l’avait laissée. C’est-à-dire dans la pauvreté, la démagogie l’incompétence, l’autocratie et le culte de la personnalité. Ainsi, Alpha a gaspillé sept ans précieux à se promener hors du pays, pour son intérêt personnel et au détriment de la Guinée.
Le temps a vite passé. Il ne lui reste plus que deux ans environ pour céder la présidence à un successeur élu. Mais M. Condé aimerait soit rattraper ce temps, soit l’allonger en une présidence à vie, camouflée et dissimulée derrière des projets utopiques. Il oublie que le temps perdu ne se rattrape pas. Et que la Constitution est inviolable. Elle ne sera pas tripotée pour satisfaire sa boulimie du pouvoir.

Tierno S. Bah

Gambia, Och-Ziff, Guinea, Niger, Chad, RDC

Former president Yahya Jammeh departs Banjul, Jan. 21
Former president Yahya Jammeh departs Banjul, Jan. 21

President Alpha Condé stepped  in the Gambian post-electoral crisis at the last minute. He and Mauritanian president “convinced” former president Yahya Jammeh to yield to President Adama Barrow  and head into exile.
In Conakry, people quickly credited President Condé, deeming it a foreign policy victory. Unfortunately, they have little to say in support of their allegation.  Actually, Yahya was caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, he had long lost credibility and now the vote of the majority of citizens. On the other, and if it came to that, ECOWAS military forces were determined to remove Mr. Jammeh from the presidential palace.

It appears now that all Jammeh wanted was to keep his stolen money and ill-gotten luxury goods. He has amassed immense personal wealth at the expense of the Gambian people.

Tactically though, ECOWAS agreed to last minute negotiations that involved General Idriss Déby Itno, president of Chad since 1990, who offered a freight plane to transport Yahya cherished possessions to Malabo.
Once that deal was sealed, Jammeh, escorted by Alpha Condé, flew out of Banjul into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Mindful of Jammeh’s post-electoral illegitimacy and greedy bargaining, African presidents simply acknowledged his departure. They did not celebrate the event, nor did they use it as a domestic politics scoring game. Only Alpha Condé and his cronies  resorted to such gimmicks and nonsense.

A case in point, President has appointed Tibou Kamara —Yahya Jammeh brother-in-law— as one of his many counselors, an empty title due to the lack of functions. Yesterday, political enemies, the two men are now allies. The pair has come to realize that the same personal and sterile ambition drives them. Birds of the same feathers flock together.

Anyhow, there are lessons to be learned from African dictators’ fall from grace. In 2014, it was the popular insurrection against Blaise Compaoré in Burkina Faso. And now, after a stunning electoral defeat, Yahya Jammeh reneged and tried to hang on to power. ECOWAS, the AU and the UN would have none of it.

Mr. Condé has been dogged lately by revelations about his own suspicious wheeling and dealing in the Simandou  corruption scandal.

A federal court in Brooklyn has charged Michael Cohen and Vanja Baros, executives of Hedge Fund giant Och-Ziff, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In 2010 Och-Ziff wired millions of dollars to the Swiss bank account of a French lobbyist, and former adviser to President Condé.
That payment has been linked to other Och-Ziff corruption allegations in Niger, Chad  and the DRC. Will Alpha Condé face a political fallout and judicial implications for his financial schemes?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, just like Blaise and Yahya before hime, Alpha should remember this: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” (Abraham Lincoln)

Tierno S. Bah


Hedge Fund Execs Charged in Multi-Million Dollar Bribery Scheme

U.S. securities regulators on Thursday accused two former executives at hedge fund Och-Ziff Capital Management of masterminding a far-reaching scheme to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to African officials.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Michael Cohen, who headed Och-Ziff’s European office, and Vanja Baros, a former analyst, of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The lawsuit came after Och-Ziff agreed in September to pay $412 million to resolve U.S. investigations relating to the hedge fund’s role in bribing officials in several African countries.

That settlement led to a subsidiary of Och-Ziff pleading guilty to participating in a scheme to bribe officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in what prosecutors said marked the first U.S. foreign bribery case against a hedge fund.

In its lawsuit, the SEC said Cohen, 45, and Baros, 44, from 2007 to 2012 caused bribes to be paid to officials in Libya, Chad, Niger, Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo through agents, intermediaries, and business partners.

Those bribes were paid to secure a $300 million investment from the Libyan Investment Authority sovereign wealth fund; an investment in a Libyan real estate development project; and to secure mining deals, the SEC said.

Ronald White, a lawyer Cohen, said in a statement he “has done nothing wrong and is confident that when all the evidence is presented, it will be shown that the SEC’s civil charges are baseless.”

A lawyer for Baros did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An Och-Ziff spokesman declined to comment.

In settling in September, Och-Ziff entered a deferred prosecution agreement, in which charges related to conduct in several countries would be dropped after three years if it followed the deal’s terms.

Och-Ziff CEO Daniel Och meanwhile agreed with the SEC to pay $2.17 million, and the commission also settled with the company’s chief financial officer.

To date, only one individual has been criminally charged in connection with the probe, Samuel Mebiame, a son of the late former Gabon Prime Minister Leon Mebiame who prosecutors say acted as a “fixer” for a joint-venture involving Och-Ziff.

In December, Mebiame pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, admitting he schemed to provide “improper benefits” to officials in African countries such as Guinea in exchange for obtaining business opportunities.

Reuters

Corruption. Alpha Condé, Rio Tinto and Simandou

Alan Davies, Rio Tinto
Alan Davies, Rio Tinto

The Simandou iron ore project continues to make headlines for accusations of corruption in the adjudication of mining licenses. A Rio Tinto executive, Alan Davies, is the latest shoe to drop. It was reported today that he has been suspended for his role in a bribery scheme that took place in 2011. The alleged fraudulent transaction happened thus  during president Alpha Condé‘s first year in office following his inauguration in December 2010. The article below names the main companies involved then in the Simandou project. It does not, however, indicate who received the  alleged $10.5m  payment. But Mediapart.fr reveals that it was François de Combret, and adviser to president Conde, a former deputy secretary general of the Elysée Palace, and an ex-associate of Lazard Bank.
Rio Tinto (Australia), Vale (Brazil), BSG Resources and Chinalco (Hong-Kong) had each a stake in the Simandou. The first three have been either forced out or decided to withdraw from the project, leaving Chinalco as the only current investor.

Tierno S. Bah


François de Combret
François de Combret

Global mining giant Rio Tinto has been plunged into a bribery scandal after discovering multimillion-dollar payments to a contractor relating to a project in Guinea, West Africa.

The FTSE 100 company has suspended Alan Davies, the executive in charge of its energy and minerals division, with immediate effect, as it investigates payments of $10.5m made to a consultant in relation to its giant Simandou iron ore project.

Mr Davies allegedly had accountability for Simandou in 2011, when the transactions were apparently made.

Rio said it became aware of email correspondence relating to the payments in August this year. Yesterday it notified the authorities in the UK and the US and “is in the process of contacting the Australian authorities”.

Debra Valentine, the executive in charge of Rio’s legal and regulatory affairs, has also stepped down from her role. She had previously notified the company of her intention to retire in May next year.

“Rio Tinto intends to co-operate fully with any subsequent inquiries from all of the relevant authorities,” the company said. “Further comment at this time is therefore not appropriate.”

Mr Davies, who is also a non-executive director at Rolls-Royce, only took charge of Rio’s energy and mineral group in July, in a broader restructuring implemented by new chief executive Jean-Sebastian Jacques when he took on the top job.

One of Mr Jacques’ first major decisions was to cancel development of the long-gestating $20bn Simandou project after deciding that low iron ore prices made the mine nonviable. The decision outraged the Guinea government, which had been banking on Simandou to provide a much-needed boost; the mine had been tipped to double the size of the country’s economy.

Last month Rio sold its 46.6pc stake in Simandou to Chinalco, a mining company listed in Hong Kong, for up to $1.3bn.

Simandou has long been dogged with controversy. It is believed to be one of the biggest undeveloped high-grade iron ore deposits in the world, but its inland location makes building the infrastructure to tap it hugely expensive. Iron ore is the key ingredient in steel.

Rio bought the concession 15 years ago, but lost the rights to half the lode in 2008, when the Guinea government transferred them to BSG Resources, owned by Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz.

The deal raised eyebrows not just for the relatively small amount that BSGR had invested in Simandou, but for the fact that company was a specialist in diamond, rather than iron ore, mining. BSGR subsequently sold half its stake to Brazilian giant Vale for an initial $500m, but both companies were ejected from Simandou after a two-year inquiry in Guinea found that BSGR had used bribery to gain the rights to the mine.

In 2014, Rio sued BSGR and Vale in the US, alleging they had conspired to misappropriate Rio’s half of the deposit in 2008. The case — which included claims that BSGR had given Guinea’s minister of mines a diamond-encrusted Ferrari — was dismissed last year after the judge ruled it had fallen foul of the statute of limitations. Both BSG and Vale denied any wrongdoing.

Analysts at Investec said the announcement it was a “surprise” given that Mr Davies had been touted as a potential CEO prior to Mr Jacques’ appointment. “While we do not expect this to have any impact on operations, it does cast a negative cloud over a company that considers itself above any such indiscretions. That said the company appears to be addressing this firmly.”

Rio Tinto’s shares were up 5.5pc amid a general rally in the mining sector following Donald Trump‘s US election victory.

Jon Yeomans
The Telegraph