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

L’émir Lamiɗo Sanusi visé par Boko Haram

Le milliardaire Aliko Dangote rend une visite de courtoisie à l'Emir Sanusi Lamiɗo Sanusi. 10 juin 2014 (Photo: 9ra Life)
Le milliardaire Aliko Dangote rend une visite de courtoisie à l’Emir Sanusi Lamiɗo Sanusi. 10 juin 2014 (Photo: 9ra Life)

L’attentat perpétré par Boko Haram contre la grande mosquée de Kano sonne comme un avertissement pour Sanusi Lamiɗo Sanusi, ancien patron de la Banque centrale devenu chef religieux de la ville.

Le nouvel émir de Kano, Sanusi Lamiɗo Sanusi, n’est pas homme à se laisser impressionner. Ni par le gouvernement ni par les miliciens de Boko Haram. Le deuxième plus haut responsable religieux du pays, 53 ans, a été nommé en juin dernier dans cette ville du Nord à la suite de son limogeage, en février, du poste de gouverneur de la Banque centrale du Nigeria.

Sa faute : avoir publiquement accusé la Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) d’avoir détourné 20 milliards de dollars (environ 16 milliards d’euros) des revenus du pétrole. Aujourd’hui, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi a un nouvel adversaire : Boko Haram. Le nord du pays est à majorité musulmane, mais la secte islamiste tue sans distinction de religion, accusant les habitants de ne pas appliquer correctement la charia ou d’être vendus au gouvernement.

Lire également Lamiɗo Sanusi, The Fearless Nigerian

En mai 2013, le président nigérian, Goodluck Jonathan, avait décrété l’état d’urgence dans trois États du Nord-Est : Borno, Adamawa et Yobe, à 300 km à l’est de la ville de Kano, laquelle compte 10 millions d’habitants et fait l’objet d’attaques régulières. Alors que l’armée nigériane semble incapable de maîtriser l’avancée des terroristes, l’ancien banquier n’a quant à lui pas hésité à encourager la population à s’organiser en milices d’autodéfense, se mettant ainsi à dos la police fédérale, qui y voit un “appel à l’anarchie”.

Triple attentat suicide

L’état d’urgence a pris fin le 20 novembre et, huit jours plus tard, un attentat a fait au moins 120 morts et près de 300 blessés dans la mosquée centrale de Kano, accolée au palais de Sanusi… Est-il devenu la cible de Boko Haram ? L’émir balaie l’hypothèse d’un revers de main : pour lui, ce triple attentat-suicide, un jour de grande prière (à laquelle il était, cette fois, absent), était préparé de longue date et ne le visait pas directement.

— Nous ne nous laisserons jamais intimider, a réaffirmé Sanusi au lendemain du drame. Il ne serait pas le premier chef religieux à faire les frais de ses propos contre Boko Haram : son prédécesseur a été l’objet de plusieurs tentatives de meurtre, et l’émir de Gwoza, dans l’État de Borno, a été assassiné en mai dernier.

Dorothée Thiénot

Nigeria. Lamido Sanusi is Kano’s new Emir

Mallam Sanusi Lamiɗo Sanusi
Mallam Sanusi Lamiɗo Sanusi, the new Emir of Kano

The ousted central bank governor and prominent government critic, Lamiɗo Sanusi, has been named as the new Emir of Kano in Nigeria.

The Emir is one of the most influential spiritual leaders in the country’s largely Muslim north.

As bank governor, Sanusi had levelled accusations of high-level fraud and was suspended.

As bank governor, Mr Sanusi had levelled accusations of high-level fraud and was suspended in February.

The previous Emir, al-Haji Ado Bayero, died after a long illness at the age of 83 on Friday.

Lamido Sanusi’s reforms

Mr Sanusi made sweeping reforms during his time as the Central Bank Governor, tackling widespread fraud in the financial sector. Recently, he alleged that corruption within Nigeria’s petroleum industry meant that the oil production did not match its revenue and so billions of dollars had gone missing.

This move did not go down well with President Goodluck Jonathan, who responded by suspending him.

Now assuming the throne in Kano, Lamiɗo Sanusi’s frosty relations with the president will be closely watched ahead of next year’s presidential elections.


After the Sultan of Sokoto, the emir of Kano is the second-highest Islamic authority in Nigeria.

The state government in Kano made the decision after four “kingmakers” had met and submitted nominees.

Those eligible had to be male members of the Ibrahim Dabo family — whose clans include the Bayeros and Sanusis.

Correspondents say Nigeria’s traditional leaders hold few constitutional powers, but are able to exert significant influence especially in the north where they are seen as custodians of both religion and tradition.

One of Mr Sanusi’s key roles will be helping tackle the mounting insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the north.

The group has accused traditional Muslim rulers of failing to enforce its strict interpretation of the Koran.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision to suspend Mr Sanusi from the bank on accusations of financial recklessness and misconduct had led to concern among international investors.

Al-Haji Ado Bayero had been on the throne in the northern city since 1963.

He was the longest-serving emir in Kano’s history and sought to reduce tensions with Nigeria’s Christians.

He was also a critic of Boko Haram and survived an assassination attempt last year blamed on the Islamist group.

Tomi Oladipo
BBC News, Abuja

Yet to be crowned Emir of Kano, former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, appointed on 3 June 2009 and suspended from office by President Goodluck Jonathan on 20 February 2014 after exposing a $20 billion fraud committed by the president’s associates in the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC).
He is the grandson Sir Muhammadu Sunusi the 11th Emir of Kano state. He is a career banker and ranking Fulani nobleman, and also serves as a respected Islamic scholar.
The global financial intelligence magazine, The Banker, published by the Financial Times, has conferred on Sanusi two awards, the global award for Central Bank Governor of the Year, as well as for Central Bank Governor of the Year for Africa.
The TIME magazine also listed Sanusi in its TIMES 100 list of most influential people of 2011.