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

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Building on the rich content of the websites and on four decades of research, teaching, writing and pondering, it explores and seeks answers to why Africa is a perennial economic and technological laggard, compared to the other continents. And based on accurate facts and authoritative sources, it strives to demonstrate that Africa is —and has been for six centuries— between the Hammer of foreign hegemonies and the Anvil of indigenous elites and rulers.

The first three sessions of the webAfriqa Podcast are online for patrons to access. Dozens more will be recorded and posted.

Thank you!

Tierno S. Bah

Abonnez-vous au webAfriqa Podcast !

Aidez webAfriqa en vous abonnant au webAfriqa Podcast sur Patreon.

Depuis 1997, et à travers ses onze sites, webAfriqa offre l’accès gratuit à des informations de qualité et à des connaissances inestimables sur la Guinée et l’Afrique.

Mai la production de ces sites n’est pas gratuite. Elle est onéreuse et  coûte, au quotidien, du temps, des frais et du savoir-faire. Pour poursuivre et améliorer son service public, webAfriqa a besoin, de façon urgente, de votre contribution.

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L’abonnement vous donne accès au webAfriqa Podcast, mon nouveau programme intitulé Pourquoi l’Afrique est-elle en retard ? Mon traitement de cette interrogation majeure  s’appuie sur le riche contenu des sites web, d’une part, et sur mes quatre décennies de recherche, d’enseignement, de publication, et de réflexion, d’autre part. J’explore et cherche des réponses à la question de savoir pourquoi l’Afrique est, de façon pérenne, en retard économique et technologique sur les autres continents.
Me basant sur des faits incontestables, des preuves matérielles et sur des ressources faisant autorité, je m’efforce de démontrer que l’Afrique est placée, depuis plus de six siècles, entre le Marteau d’hégémonies extérieures et l’Enclume d’élites et de dirigeants autochtones.

Les trois premières sessions sont déjà disponibles pour les parrains sur Patreon. Des dizaines d’autres y seront enregistrées et publiées.

Merci d’avance.

Tierno S. Bah

Why Is Africa Lagging?

The central question

There is a widespread awareness of Africa’s ranking as the least developed continent. Therein persists a nagging, perplexing, often frustrating and vexing question. People ask and would like to know Why? How? When? Who? Where? It is highly relevant to earnestly seek answers to Africa’s status as a perennial economic, technical and technological laggard.
These are not merely academic or rhetorical interrogations. They are real-life and, more often than not, life-threatening issues. Thus, every year thousands of young African undertake risky journeys in quest for better living conditions in Europe, Asia, and America.
The recent and steady exodus of inexperienced and unskilled youths  compounds an older, long-standing brain-drain. Both phenomena deprive Africa of its main resource: people. Trained technicians and experienced professionals, teenagers and young adults —the seeds of the future— flee abroad to “greener pastures.”

1999. Death of Yaguine Koita and Fodé Tounkara

One of the root causes of Africa’s stalling consists in what ​Leopold S. Senghor decried as the “ deterioration of the terms of exchange.” Actually, that euphemism harkens back to the Colonial Pact of 1898. Still alive—and worsening—, it dealt Africa a crippling hand. For it sealed the role of the continent as (a) a coerced supplier of raw material and (b) an induced consumer of imported goods.


The central question will be broken down into dozens of sub-topics that range from the tool-making gap, to slavery, colonization, “independence”, globalization, the Cultural Heritage (language, religion, arts, crafts, literature, ethnicity, nationhood, civilization, tradition, modernity, politics…), racism, alienation, affirmation, collaboration and resistance to foreign hegemony, war, peace, the past and the present.

The webAfriqa channel creator

Elaborating on the Africa, Between the Anvil and the Hammer byline as a linguist, an anthropologist, a technologist, a semanticist, and a web publisher, Tierno S. Bah shares four decades of research, teaching, debating, writing and pondering on the main issue and its many corollaries.
Again, the question Why is Africa Lagging is neither fortuitous nor frivolous. To the contrary, it is a permanent, controversial, highly charged, all-around (history, economy, culture, politics, social), major, legitimate, and utterly challenging theme. A mega-quandary, it has no binary choices, clear-cut answers, or simple solutions!
The webAfriqa channel is backed by the webAfriqa Portal, published since 1997. Espousing the Open Web philosophy, the Portal offers tens of thousands of text, images, audio and video documents, carefully selected from authoritative sources, reliable data, relevant information and genuine knowledge bases. The Portal includes webFuutawebPulaakuwebMandewebGuinéeCamp Boiro MemorialBlogGuinéeSemantic AfricaSemanticVocabAfricawebAmeriqa, etc.
Last, steeped in history and blending social sciences with digital tools and technologies, the channel will focus on the prerequisites that Africa must meet in order to break the chains that keep it down and out.

Tierno S. Bah

Rose Blanche Achkar, RIP !

Mme Rose Blanche épouse de Marof Achkar n’est plus. J’ai été informé aujourd’hui de son décès, survenu le 17 juillet dernier à Paris.

On s’entretint une fois au téléphone en 2015. Ce fut notre premier et dernier contact. D’abord hésitante, la conversation devint détendue. Elle révéla une personne gentille, sympathique, simple, habitée par la sagesse et l’humilité. Elle avait su surmonté la tragédie que Sékou Touré  infligea à sa famille. Et élevé ses enfants, brutalement transformés en orphelines et orphelins de père.

Ambassadeur Telli Diallo et son conseiller culturel Marof Achkar. Washington, DC. 1960
Ambassadeur Telli Diallo et son conseiller culturel Marof Achkar. Washington, DC. 1960

Couple d’artistes

Rose Blanche et Marof se connurent et se marièrent alors qu’ils étaient membres des Ballets Africains de Fodéba Keita. Lui, en tant qu’artiste, chorégraphe et manager, elle, en tant qu’artiste. Née au Bénin, elle adopta et s’intégra, me dit-elle, à la Guinée, le pays de son mari. Le film Allah Tantou contient des plans d’images de Rose Blanche sur scène.

Marof, Rose et leurs enfants: Le bébé dans les bras de sa mère c'est feu <a href="">Daivid Achkar</a>, le réalisateur du film Allah Tantou.
Marof, Rose et leurs enfants: Le bébé dans les bras de sa mère c’est feu Daivid Achkar, le réalisateur du film Allah Tantou.
ONU, New York, 1967. Alpha Abdoulaye Portos Diallo, secrétaire d'Etat aux Affaires étrangères, l'ambassadeur Marof Achkar, <a href="">Mohammed Kassory Bangoura</a>, chef de cabinet du ministère des AE.
ONU, New York, 1967. Alpha Abdoulaye Portos Diallo, secrétaire d’Etat aux Affaires étrangères, l’ambassadeur Marof Achkar, Mohammed Kassory Bangoura, chef de cabinet du ministère des AE.

Epouse de diplomate et Mère

La brève mais brillante carrière diplomatique de Marof Achkar commença ici, à Washington, DC en 1959, où il fut nommé conseiller culturel de l’ambassadeur Diallo Telli. Celui-ci cumula au début les fonctions d’ambassadeur plénipotentiaire et extraordinaire aux USA et de représentant permanent de la république de Guinée aux Nations-Unies à New York. Marof l’y succéda plus tard et s’imposa rapidement autant par la substance que par le style. Premier président de la commission spéciale de l’ONU sur l’Apartheid, il s’acquitta de ses responsabilités avec compétence et charisme. La presse internationale le surnomma le Clark Gable Africain, en raison d’une ressemblance perçue entre Marof et la vedette du film Autant en emporte le vent. Epouse attachante, hôtesse charmante Rose Blanche fut un pilier du succès de Marof. Elle cultiva la mémoire de son mari après l’assassinat de ce dernier, et l’expulsion (elle et ses enfants) de son pays de mariage et d’adoption en 1971.

New York, 1967. Rose Blanche reçoit en famille la super-vedette <a href="">Marlon Brando</a>, ami de son mari.
New York, 1967. Rose Blanche reçoit en famille la super-vedette Marlon Brando, ami de son mari.

Rest in Peace, Ms. Achkar!

Tierno S. Bah