Corruption in Africa
Corruption is deviation from superlative norms of the society. Moral or spiritual impurity, impunity, bribery and embezzlement give further descriptions of corruption, as explained by Kochan (2011, p.14). People of high rank in the society or those in power tend to practice corruption more than the other less privileged through dishonesty and fraudulent conduct. Corruption is a vice that exists throughout the world, both in the developed and developing countries, as evidenced by Heaton (2011, p.22). In recent years the attention paid to corruption has significantly increased due to an increase in awareness of the loss and cost of corruption, high corruption cases in industrialized nations, and changes in politics and economics currently experienced by many countries.
Corruption in Africa is the most widespread and costly. Research studies and investigations reveal high cost of corruption in Africa. It impedes development as well as increases the poverty level making the governments unable to minimize it, as asserted by Hope & Chikulo (2000, p.57). Corrupt activities span a wide scale ranging from petty corruption involving bribes for accomplishment of bureaucratic procedure to devastatingly large scale in which considerable sums of money are exchanged for preferential access or treatment. The mostly affected government sectors include finance managerial, government offices, resource extraction distribution and allocation and other sectors related to the disbursement of funds through local projects.
Surveys of African countries on the basis of corruption showed that it is worse in the countries whose institutions, including judiciary and legislature, are weak. In such institutions the rule of law and enforcement of formal rules are not well observed and therefore political patronage is standard practice. This professionalism and independence of public sectors have been eroded and civil societies have limited means to bring public pressure to bear as asserted by Mbaku (2010, p. 92). Corruption has become so entrenched into society that its negative effects multiplied and spread at high rates. Over time it has induced cynicism because of its persistence making many people regard it as the norm, as explained by Wraith & Simpkins (2010, p.109). It has undermined social values since many Africans over long period of time have found it more lucrative and easier to practice corruption than to search for legitimate employment.
In the year 2012, Nigeria recorded the biggest oil scandal summing to about $ 6.8 bn. It was reported by graft watchdogs that multinational oil firms in Nigeria had agreed to pay $1,092 bn to the government for oil block OPL 245. These funds were later transferred to Malabu Oil and Gas which is owned by the former Oil minister, Mr. Dan Etete, who was a former oil minister under the late General Sani Abacha. According to MediaNews in Nigeria, it was stated that Jonathan gave the order on the payment of money. Moreover, it was alleged that some huge chunk of money ended up in the bank accounts of business associates and cronies of the government officials, as explained by Otusanya, Ajibolade & Omolehinwa (2012, p. 64).
Global Witness asserted that New York court documents stated that, “…it does appear that the FGN (Federal Government of Nigeria) was indeed the proverbial “straw man” holding $1.1 bn for ultimate payment to Malabu”. Evidently, that was a round-tipping process, a common tool regularly used by corrupt government officials and tycoon businessmen for tax evasion and money laundering, as explained by Bayart (2009, p. 76). Following to the allegation of money laundering, efforts were made to get the reaction of the President’s spokesman, Dr. Ruben Abati, but they yielded nothing. Likewise, when he was called and made to respond to SMS concerning the President’s reaction on the same allegation, he also did not comply completely. It is evident that all the personnel in the government tried as much as possible either to protect their involvement or give any information that would have led to successful investigation of the oil scandal as explained by Haerens (2012, p. 113). Other associates involved, including the Shell, followed the same trend by failing to address the issue of the fraud of the money when they were contacted to give comments claiming that according to its information policy, such commercially sensitive information could not be revealed. Reflecting on the many oil scandals that have happened in Nigeria, and others even resulting into deaths of innocent civilians and worse than ever the most recent one that hit the news headline of many nations in the world, it has been a habit for those ones in power to get involved in corruption and later protect themselves, as explained by Tent & Jones (2012, p.82).
Nigerian oil scandal is a true picture of the faces of corruption in Africa, where the oppressed have to bear burden of thefts and injustices made by their leaders. Nigeria is among the rich nations with national income generated from oil, but it has slow progress in development, as asserted by Ofoche (2012, p. 53). All this is attributed to the corruption facing not only Nigeria but also Africa at large.