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The IFRA Nigeria publications since 1990 are available online on OpenEdition website

Anti-corruption campaign in Nigeria (1999-2007): the politics of a failed reform

by David Enweremadu

As a result of the partnership between the African Studies Centre, University of Leiden, and IFRA-Nigeria, the first opus of the West African Politics and Society series (WAPOSO) is coming out! The series aims to publish original, cutting-edge research work produced by West African, especially Nigerian, scholars in different fields within the Social Sciences and the Humanities. David Enweremadu, lecturer at the Department of Political Science, University of Ibadan, gives in this first issue a critical perspective on the anti-corruption reforms since 1999…


The book is available in hard copy and an electronic version can be downloaded on IFRA’s website and at

In 1999, after completing a transition from military to civilian rule, Nigeria began implementing comprehensive reforms aimed at routing out corruption, which is widely regarded as the most important factor retarding the country’s socio-economic development. Some of the reforms included the establishment of new anti-corruption agencies, comprehensive reform of the public sector (including the judiciary), as well as a global search for looted funds hidden away in foreign banks. Despite being unprecedented in many ways, the impact of these policies has been hard to see. Even as the implementation of these programmes accelerated, corruption remained intractable, while the commitment of the reformists became increasingly questioned. As the 2007 general elections drew near, the anti-corruption war became increasingly politicised, no thanks to the determination of the principal actors to employ it as a tool to rubbish their political rivals or tarnish their credentials before a bewildered electorate. Among the most obvious challenges that soon emerged were the weak capacities of some of the major institutions charged with the implementation of the reforms, engendered by inadequate finance, limited human resources, legal lacunas, an ineffective criminal justice system, and constitutional immunity granted to key officials. To this was added the weakness of civil society and non-engagement of sub-national authorities (states and local governments), all which suggested a glaring absence of an internal political coalition against corruption.

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