As discussed in the Economist magazine, oil related corruption in Nigeria is enabling a few people to extract billions of dollars from the world economy. Meanwhile most Nigerians remain very poor by global standards (desperately poor by the standards of the USA). In one particular instance, large oil companies were required to pay the Nigerian government $1.3 billion in 2011 for the right to drill in one fabulously abundant offshore oil field. $1.1 billion was immediately transferred to a Nigerian firm known as Malabu Oil and Gas. No one knows who owns Malabu, but it appears the primary owner is the former Nigerian Oil Minister, Dan Etete, the same person who awarded Malabu ownership rights to this oil field back in 1998!
In fact, none of these corrupt dealings would have come to light, except that two of the parties involved in this billion dollar deal were able to sue Malabu in London, Great Britain. In court testimony, Mr. Etete denied being the company’s owner, but he admitted to having negotiated for the firm, to having received $250 million of its windfall and to having used an alias when conducting its business.
Others may wish to debate the complicity of the Shell and ENI oil companies in making the $1.3 billion payment, or how to reform the Nigerian government, which was in the middle of the deal. However, I think this sordid tale is an opportunity for each of us to examine corruption in our own lives. Are we taking advantage of perks or privileges at our own jobs which we are not properly entitled to? Are we coming in late or taking long lunch hours, and not making up the time shortly thereafter? Guilty here on both counts. Are we arranging for spouses or other family members of valued employees to get jobs when the family member is clearly not the best qualified candidate? Every culture has it’s own forms of corruption. The rich and powerful in the United States or Western Europe may be far superior to many of their counterparts in Nigeria in many respects. But we can raise the bar for ourselves, even as we encourage corruption ridden 3rd world countries to improve.
Reference: The Economist, June 15, 2013, “Safe Sex in Nigeria” p.63.