DFID's Programme in Nigeria - International Development Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20 - 39)



  Q20  Hugh Bayley: Forgive me for cutting across you Sam because I know Andrew Stunell is going to follow-up that particular issue further. I have one final question, and it is this: corruption steals from the poor; it steals school places; it steals immunisation; it takes money which would be available for public welfare away from providing services for the public. Given that DFID in Nigeria is focussed on improving the quality of governance, where should DFID address its efforts most urgently? In other words, where does corruption do most damage: at federal level, state level, local government level; in the private sector? Where should DFID target its resources most urgently in terms of improving governance?

  Mr Unom: Following through a strategy that focuses on executive agencies, hoping they will behave themselves, is difficult. What to do is to strengthen the checks outside of the executive. Where there is a will you strengthen systems of prevention; but outside the executive agencies there is a legislature that has to do a job. There is a whole law enforcement side that has to do a job. So far the focus has been on the executive, the enforcement agencies such as the EFCC[4], and the Code of Conduct Bureau, the ICPC.[5] You need to bring in a large array of players—especially the legislature; but this is a work in progress. If you want to kill many birds you need to have the clean elections we mentioned. If the elections begin to count then, even where the law fails to deal with bad cases, the Nigerians themselves can deal with them at elections.

  Mr Peel: I would say that a lot more attention needs to be devoted to money flows around the oil industry. What you have in place at the moment is the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative which is international, and the Nigerian version of that, which takes you a certain way but only at the very top level of revenue flows, according to what the oil companies take and what is transferred to government. There is a whole cascade of relationships which are extremely important and, at their worst, very damaging to governance but are really not exposed; and I am talking here, for example, about costs which are booked by companies. Are they real costs? You need mechanisms for checking that. What are the relationships between companies and government officials? There was a US Senate committee report on Equatorial Guinea in 2004, I think, which exposed an embarrassing array of land deals, joint ventures and so forth which, by most people's definition, was a kind of corruption between oil companies and the regime. To give a practical example, here one of the things that Scotland Yard has been looking at is links between James Ibori the former Governor of Delta State, whom I should say denies all wrongdoing, and major oil companies who hired houseboats for oil industry workers from a company he controlled. These are the kinds of things that need to be out in the open. There are large money flows; they also factor directly on how the country is governed. If DFID can put in funds which help to air that and expose to more light the network of relationships I think that would be a very useful thing to do.

  Q21  Andrew Stunell: Perhaps I could pick up the points which are emerging here, one of which is there is an issue of corruption within Nigeria; and the other is corruption as it spills out into the international community and here in the United Kingdom. Clearly DFID and the UK Government can take a position in relation to both of those. Can I, first of all, just come to the EFCC. We heard different, perhaps contrasting, reports about the impact of the change of the chairmanship. You said that it was a step backwards. I heard evidence that actually they had brought forward hundreds of cases. Certainly the newspapers in Nigeria are full of story after story of people being brought before the courts. Could you just explore for me a little bit more about whether you think EFCC is doing the right job, has got the right leadership, has got the right sort of support, or is it just fundamentally not the right instrument for delivering what is needed?

  Dr Mustapha: I think there has been a debate about the change of leadership of the EFCC and what motivated it. My own considered opinion is that in fact all the changes were aimed at undermining the institution, preventing it from targeting particularly the governors, the former governors especially. That seemed to be the motive. Of course, since then many individuals have been brought to trial. Beyond the Minister of Health, who was somebody with no political base as such, she was a technocrat, no major senior person has been brought to trial. All have been middle level people by and large and in the bureaucracy largely. The war has been diverted into the wrong targets, in my view. They have not abandoned it but they are certainly not targeting the real people who need to be put on notice.

  Mr Unom: The latter part of your question was whether the EFCC was of sufficient status or had the proper strategy and I think that is a very important question indeed. Even if you had a very, very effective EFCC the question would be whether it is sufficient. There is no indication that it is sufficient. For all the work that EFCC did, even in its more glorious days, there is no important elected official who is in jail as we speak. You have to accept that even a most effective EFCC would still be up against it regarding the challenges. There are 1,600 plus elected officials at federal and state levels alone; there are hundreds of thousands of appointed officials; and assuming that each of these is a potential case for investigation the EFCC will never have the resources to track all that it needs to track. So you need something way beyond the EFCC. The enforcement strategy is important because it conveys the message that corruption is a risky business. That is the main contribution that the EFCC at its best can make to make corruption risky. You need other things, however, to have this transformation that is required.

  Mr Peel: Cooperation between Nigerian and British law enforcement authorities has fallen off a cliff in the last year or two. Why is that? That seems to me a backward step, in that there were investigations going on that most people felt were reasonable investigations based on grounds for suspicion; suddenly that flowering of cooperation has died and that has really harmed the prospect of cases bring brought here and in Nigeria. To return for a moment to what I think is something of a titanic case, which is the investigation into the former Governor James Ibori, on which a lot of work has been done both in this country and in Nigeria, this has now been going on for some years. Technically I think he is still being investigated in Nigeria; but where is that investigation going? There is no evidence that it is coming to a resolution one way or another, i.e. a conclusion that there is a case to answer or else a decision that actually there is not and that it should be formally dropped. It is a classic tactic of a politicised law enforcement agency, and I make this point hypothetically and generall— to just keep an investigation open and open and open; then that way you say you are doing something and you avoid the outcry that might come if you said, "Actually, we've stopped looking at this altogether". Until we see some evidence of movements in cases which, as the other witnesses have said, do not just involve medium level officials, but actually have very senior officials at the centre of them, then one has to conclude that there is not that much behind this anti-corruption campaign now.

  Q22  Andrew Stunell: Taking that a step further, what should the United Kingdom Government be doing either through DFID or through other government agencies to make sure that those investigations in the UK are proceeding as fast as they can and to exert some leverage in Nigeria to get the Nigerian side of the investigation back on track?

  Dr Mustapha: Before I answer directly, I think the point about the international cooperation, the role it plays is very, very important in fighting corruption. The Ibori case, for instance, is in court but it cannot proceed because the woman with whom he is charged is in Britain here and she has not been extradited, or no pressure has been put for her to go back. Secondly, the highly important case that the Government is trying to handle—the Americans have the documents but they have refused to hand them over. With this kind of lukewarm international environment there is a ready excuse for those who want to evade any prosecution or any justice in Nigeria.

  Q23  Andrew Stunell: I am sorry to interrupt, but are you saying that the United Kingdom authorities are themselves dragging their feet in these cases?

  Dr Mustapha: I am not sure that the concern of your Committee is widely shared. If it were I do not know why the woman is still hanging around here without being sent back to get the process going. I do not what is happening within the British Government because she has been here for over six months or so now.

  Mr Peel: Is she not on trial here? Some people are on trial.

  Dr Mustapha: One or two are on trial here but this one is not on trial here.

  Q24  Chairman: I should point out that we may have privilege but you do not, so be careful!

  Dr Mustapha: Thank you. I think your contribution, in making sure that these kinds of people and the information are readily made available in Nigeria, will make it more difficult for the Government to evade its responsibilities.

  Q25  Hugh Bayley: A quick supplementary on that. Two years ago the Africa All Party Group in this House published a report on corruption called The Other Side of the Coin. It provoked a response from the Government which, amongst other things, meant that a corruption tsar was appointed within the Cabinet. Initially it was a DFID minister Hilary Benn and when he moved from DFID it became a DTI minister. Given what you have just said, that top levels of government are not sharing the interests of this Committee, do you think it would make sense for the Secretary of State for International Development once again to be given responsibility for leading UK policy to tackle trans-national bribery and corruption?

  Mr Unom: Yes, is my short answer!

  Mr Peel: It is the Justice Secretary now who has that role, does he not?

  Q26  Hugh Bayley: Yes, you are absolutely right, it has moved on yet again.

  Mr Peel: I think rather DFID than the DTI.

  Q27  Hugh Bayley: No, it is Justice. One sees the sense of the Serious Fraud Office coming under Justice?

  Mr Peel: It should actually be the Serious Fraud Office, which comes under the Attorney-General's Office. Justice of course has responsibility for the new legislation—the draft anti-bribery bill; but the question I would raise is that what it does not have is the day-to-day contact that DFID has and the real understanding of the grit of these problems on the ground, which is actually crucial. Yes, I would say DFID is the logical place, especially as DFID of course funds these police units that we have been talking quite a lot about in the Met and in the City of London police.

  Q28  Andrew Stunell: During our visit and in our briefings we were repeatedly told of the importance of the ethnic and religious diversity of Nigeria—I think that is perhaps the polite way of expressing it. Would you like to say something about the impact of that diversity on inequality? How far is that inequality within Nigeria driven or motivated by ethnic and religious divisions; and how much is it just the happenstance of geography and climate?

  Dr Mustapha: One of the papers that we were going to leave with you deals in detail about some of these inequalities. Maybe I should add that the work was funded by DFID itself. In a sense it is part of the country vision. For various historical and geographical reasons different parts of the country have different attributes. Some control the bureaucracy, some the informal trade, some formal trade, some the political system. What you had were claims and counterclaims in the media. One of the things that has been done is to set up the Federal Character Commission which collects data so we can at least monitor what is happening even if the policies that there are are not hitting the target just yet. The main solution that the Nigerian State has used to try to address these problems is affirmative action. That has partly solved some problems but also raised a lot of animosity amongst those who feel that they are being disfavoured in terms of access to jobs. As you see in our top point to you, we think those measures should be made better. DFID could engage with the government institutions with this and try to fashion better instruments for achieving a certain level of equity. Historically in Nigeria communities who felt that they were being left behind often came together, collected money and built schools to leverage themselves up; and that is what many communities are not doing today, particularly in the north, and until that happens the problem will persist.

  Mr Unom: As you will have heard already, there is more poverty in the north than in the south. That is simplifying it, but that is the situation which exists. You will have seen from Dr Mustapha's paper, it is not only due to the collapse of industry in the north, this is also in turn related to the political dominance of the north; because among the elites people see government as an industry and they did not pay attention to developing the economy in the north. Insofar as the Government itself is an industry, it is only the elite in the north that have access to government. There is no conscientious commitment locally and by the elite from the region to developing the region, so there has been a problem. It is true that the oil producing region now accesses more resources from the centre than elsewhere. There are also other advantages. You will see in the documents we will hand over to you that the education is better in the south than in the north. You have more qualified professionals in southern regions than in others. They have the advantage going forwards. You need some concerted local action not just what the centre can do, but what the state governments, local authorities and others in the regions can do. You need to do that to begin to close that gap.

  Mr Peel: I think it would be a mistake to see this as a situation where there needs to be a transfer of resources from the slightly richer south to the poor north, in that although the other witnesses have described very well what the relative situations of the two regions are, it is not as if the north has been marginalised politically—far from it. Most of the leaders since independence have come from the north and that is quite important to remember when you are considering these dynamics. The other thing is that the big picture economic problem which, to some extent transcends these very, very complex cultural and religious boundaries we have been talking about, is that the problem is not so much mass poverty in the round, although there is huge poverty in Nigeria, it is the kind of marginal richness that oil brings; and while that pot of money is there, and there is not much else going on, the temptation is always to try and get yourself in a network to benefit from those revenues as they flow down, rather than particularly to be involved, say, in building up social services in your area or small industries and so forth. That is the real challenge that needs to be got over. There are people who are trying to do that at a piecemeal level. One thing I can follow-up on actually is an interesting power project in the east of the country run by a Nigerian-American engineering professor who has come back to apply his expertise in Nigeria and the International Finance Corporation has some involvement and so forth. That is quite an interesting micro example of how you can perhaps to some degree skirt round some of those bigger problems and have a real effect on a big issue like supplying people with power.

  Mr Unom: The banks here are doing great work with small businesses. That is the sort of assistance that can really go a long way in Nigeria. The experience and expertise that the banks here have in small business administration supports small business capacity building and will be very useful insofar as assisting small businesses to grow their way out of poverty. That will be important as well.

  Q29  Andrew Stunell: If we come back to what DFID has set itself to do, which is to tackle the Millennium Development Goals, if one looks at Nigeria and particularly the northern part of Nigeria, a large faction of the shortfall in reaching those goals is to be found in the north of Nigeria, in gender inequality and all sorts of things like that. What are going to be the right mechanisms for DFID to prompt that, to promote that and to overcome or facilitate that being a central challenge for the Nigerian Government?

  Dr Mustapha: At the end of the day societies in Nigeria, be they in the north or south, will have to also stand up and contribute to these processes. There is no amount of money or goodwill from outside that will do it; so the elites, the civil society organisations, the professional bodies in the north may be difficult to encourage, apart from the other governance issues and cleaning up financial processes; but, until Nigerian communities stand up and contribute, outside help can only go that far. I would not even suggest any vision that sees DFID as saving the north from itself; that just would not work.

  Mr Unom: This ought to be advocated by the leaders of the regime even more than DFID or other donors. Indeed there have been many forums by governors which have focused on the poverty and the education problems in the areas which are clearly at a disadvantage. That focus needs to be translated into action. It is not enough to lament how hopeless, how bad the situation is. That needs to be followed up with policies that address poverty reduction but there is no indication that that has been advocated except in one or two states. In Jigawa the Governor has consciously focused on poverty. You might question the strategy of giving money to beggars every month but at least there is an indication that somebody has decided that poverty is an important issue. You need to have that across the 19 northern states. So you need to have that energy, that concern about poverty coming from the region itself. You need to have a focus on this at the political level. DFID has opened an important office in the North and it is looking to do this but it needs to have that sort of pull from the states that they really want to work on this and that is how the work of DFID can travel far.

  Q30  John Battle: As well as the wide question of distribution and whether it is all going elsewhere, in terms of inequality, ethnic and gender inequality, it is much exercised by access to basic services. If it is true that 80 % of people who go to university in Nigeria are from the South, where less than half the population is, or areas where I have worked in and been to in the past where there is conflict and tension between Christians and Muslims, where the educational access of Christian girls is higher than, for example, Muslim girls, that does ricochet through as inequalities in the distribution of access to services in the future, in power, in participation in democracy and governance. I wonder is there not a much wider consideration of what steps should be taken to actually reduce those kinds of systemic inequalities which seem to be built into conflicts around ethnic and religious division?

  Dr Mustapha: We draw attention to some of this. The one constant the Nigerian elite have reached is to have corrective action at the point of entry, so with most Nigerian bureaucracies now you enter based partly on your qualifications but also on your state of origin, and that is the way to try to make sure everybody gets a look in. Once you enter, progression becomes political. In a sense, that is part of the problem. For every 10 Southern candidates for a job, you have maybe one or two from the North, and when you run them in terms of their qualifications maybe those two come in the middle or the bottom, and you are obliged to give the posts to those persons, and that is where the animosity comes in. What we are suggesting is that you need to go beyond the bureaucracies and look at social indicators which concern ordinary people, and then you need a much more flexible way to make sure that if you want to get someone from Kano you get the best from Kano. Interestingly, Kano State about 20 years ago decided to make up for deficiencies in their science education and they built four specialist schools and they were able to quickly fill all their slots in medical training, so states can do a lot to help and that is what is not happening.

  Q31  John Battle: Did you say at the beginning that some of the research had been funded by DFID?

  Dr Mustapha: Yes, the paper we are going to give you mentions that.

  Q32  John Battle: What more should or could DFID be doing in this area?

  Mr Unom: In the paper we suggested that they should work closely with the Federal Character Commission to help the Commission to set out short to medium term goals which deal with things more consciously. The Government is doing things which need to be brought into a strategy, and among the criteria for dispensing the Federation Account is the question of disadvantage, and states which are disadvantaged get a top up to deal with that, in the same way as ecological problems get a top up. So the Federal Character Commission can look at the data that it is generating and then advise on such further strategies which may be necessary to deal with these, and that should be their response, and then DFID works with the states to deal with the issues because a lot of action has to be taken at a sub-regional level, and that has not been done, and DFID can help deal with that as well.

  Dr Mustapha: Apart from the connection between inequality and the MDGs, there is also the connection between inequality and conflict which I think is something in the Nigerian context we need to keep in mind.

  Q33  Chairman: Just before I address the particular issue of oil dependence and oil wealth, we have not mentioned it yet but it was pretty well impossible to have a meeting when we were in Nigeria without discussing, for very practical reasons, the power crisis, not least because we did not get a meeting I do not think where the lights did not go off. There seems to be a total inability to resolve that, yet the two parts of Nigeria we visited which had the capacity to develop non-oil—or were developing or had developed non-oil—revenue were Lagos, where 50 % of their tax revenues come from non-oil sources, and Kano, where there had been a manufacturing industry, but in both cases they were losing investment not to other parts of Nigeria but elsewhere because they could not give reliable power supply. So if the country is not even capable of delivering a power supply to sustain those parts of the economy which can diversify away from oil and gas, what prospect has it of actually delivering anything?

  Mr Peel: It is a huge problem, there is no doubt about it. As an FT correspondent, it was a familiar lament of business people as well as of course the ordinary citizens, who do not have access sometimes to even the intermittent power that some businesses do. I think the Lagos example is a very interesting one. I was there last month and was struck by the degree to which you have a state government which is trying to do some quite interesting things; they are a bit more complicated than the write-up in the "New Lagos Reborn" agenda which is put about, but one of the things which is stymieing them is problems which can only be addressed at a federal level. But here I think is something which can be focused on. When President Obasanjo came to power, he made electricity a priority. Why has that not been delivered on? There are all kinds of reasons that we know about but the practical point is to look for solutions to that. The oil companies have been doing some work on power supply, that has not come on as quickly as expected, and given the international dimensions to that, it would be something which DFID would be in quite a good position to explore and investigate what was the cause of that not being rolled out further. I mentioned earlier the Nigerian professor who helped put in place this project in Enugu to help manufacturers there, that again is an example of a small-scale project but one that had an international dimension which was backed by the International Finance Corporation. These are the kind of projects which at least at a piecemeal level can help, and the Enugu one was interesting because it was relatively localised but it was quite an important locality because there were a lot of businesses there. Obviously, ideally this should be happening at a federal level, the problem will be solved at a federal level, and clearly outsiders have a limited influence on that, so therefore perhaps the answer is to look to work with local officials in the public and private sector who can make those kind of changes, whether it is government in a place like Lagos, or someone from the private sector who has a decent project going.

  Q34  Chairman: In your forthcoming book, A Swamp Full of Dollars—is that the title?

  Mr Peel: Yes.

  Q35  Chairman: You say that it is an oil-ruined country—using your words—so given that it is the biggest oil producer in Africa as well as the biggest country in Africa (obviously the discussion we have just had explains it in a lot of different ways) fundamentally why is it not possible for Nigeria to use those revenues in ways which actually deliver development? What is stopping them?

  Mr Peel: It is possible, I think. I would never argue it is impossible, for all sorts of reasons, but what it needs is a collective effort such as there has never been before, because the question of how the oil industry operates and how the revenues are used concern so many different actors both on the ground in Nigeria and internationally that there has never been an attempt to weave them together and forge a common purpose. There have been piecemeal efforts, whether it is particular oil companies saying, "We will be more transparent on X or Y or change how we do our community projects", or the Federal Government saying, "We are going to set up an oil fund", or whatever, but it is always piecemeal. I made the point, which is glib in a way, of the idea that Nigeria almost needs a Truth and Reconciliation Commission over oil. What I mean by this—and this is where international governments can help because of the role they play as client states for Nigerian oil, because of the role of oil companies in Nigeria—is bringing together those various interests and actually finding common solutions to those problems and creating a bit of momentum which has never been created in the past. So that is what I mean by that.

  Q36  Chairman: You again have touched on it, but is the distribution of the oil wealth which gives all the states a stake, and some of the oil-producing states a bigger stake, part of the problem? First of all, that there is an argument as to who should get it and whether it should change and is there any scope for changing it, or any appetite for changing it, or do we just take that as a given and then move on?

  Mr Peel: It is a problem in the sense that these are basically big pots of money over which there is no accountability. As with anyone anywhere in the world, if you create that kind of situation, what surely follows is corruption and mismanagement, and as I have said before, high level initiatives like the EITI are a start, but what we really need—and there are people in Nigeria who are interested in doing this, there are outsiders who are doing this—is drilling down a bit further to the detail of some of these problems and actually shining light into some of these darker places. I think that once that starts to happen then one might be surprised at how quickly some improvements can actually happen. It is just that nobody has really bothered before, frankly, for all kinds of political and economic reasons which most of us here know quite well.

  Q37  Chairman: The production of oil from Nigeria in relation to its potential is substantially under-performing by perhaps up to a million barrels a day. We are told that 100,000 barrels a day are effectively stolen. We are an oil-producing nation; if somebody told you that 100,000 barrels of oil a day were going missing in the UK, I guess Scotland Yard and anybody else would be on to it pretty quickly, and clearly you do not steal that amount of oil without there being a pretty high level of collusion. How do you get through all that? We have had disruption this last week in Nigeria which has further dropped the production, and has had an international repercussion as it has contributed to an increase in the oil price. This is a country which is a major oil producer yet it is not producing to its capacity, significant chunks of it are being stolen, and then there is a fight about how the revenue is distributed. Is that what you mean by saying it is an oil-ruined country?

  Mr Peel: I do, but I do not mean it in the sense that it is impossible to change that. One of the reasons I have written this book is that I think it is possible to change it, and I think there is a groundswell in Nigeria as well as from campaigning outside which is for that. In a sense you could turn the point about disruption on its head and say, "Actually, this can be a catalyst for change", because you have a situation that is harming an awful lot of interests across the piece and therefore there is some kind of mutually shared interest between agencies, companies, which might not necessarily want to work together otherwise to actually solve some of these problems. It is striking, having spent time, for example, with militants in the Niger Delta that there is a very strong streak of pragmatism in what they are doing. I have spent time, for example, with some militants in Bayelsa State. All the rhetoric was there, they were campaigning for a better deal, oil revenues had been misused, and so on and so forth, and I am sure at one level they believed that and their campaign was genuine. On the other hand, they were working as gangsters and it also emerged, as I spent more time with them, that they were actually very strong backers of the former governor of Bayelsa State who was charged with corruption here and later convicted in Nigeria, but this was after he had been turfed out of office. In other words their patron had been overthrown and they were angry not so much with the status quo but the fact their position at the top of the food chain had been expunged. You can be depressed by that, in a sense of course it is depressing, but on the other hand it shows there is an opportunity there—that these alliances in the Niger Delta particularly are very fungible, they are very changeable, and if people come with proposals to make the system work better, that strong streak of pragmatism in what is going on—very driven to some extent by day-to-day economic interests—can be harnessed to actually solve some of these problems. So to an extent the very volatility of the problems of the Delta means there is an opportunity to actually solve the problems and what is going on.

  Q38  Chairman: I want to bring in Hugh Bayley but just a transitional question on that. I represent the North East of Scotland which is a major oil producing area within the UK, a significant number of my constituents have been kidnapped in Nigeria and do not want to go there, and significant companies are not able to engage there because of the insecurity. Does this not require not only federal engagement but international engagement to create a security environment? That seems to be the practicality, people cannot go there, they cannot operate, as a result of that the investment does not happen, the production does not happen and there is a lot of stuff being stolen. So does it require at that level—federal, even international—engagement to create a security environment where you can physically start to deliver?

  Mr Peel: I think it depends what you mean by a security climate. I think a bigger military presence by Nigerian forces or international forces in the Delta would be extremely dangerous. What has to be done is to disarm people, get them out of the bush. This has been done before. There was a militant whom I write about in the book called Alhaji Asari who was in the mangroves. He was in a sense the prototype of what some of these guys are doing today but eventually there was a peace deal done and he came out of the mangroves with his guys and the next time I met them they were living in the centre of Port Harcourt. So things can change very quickly. What needs to be acknowledged, which has not been sufficiently so far in terms of finding solutions to this problem, is why are a lot of these militants running around in the Niger Delta? Answer: because they have been armed by politicians who were active there who needed to rig elections. So immediately you have the link between militancy and electoral reform. The answer to that is not a military crack-down, it is saying, "We are going to support efforts to make sure that elections are not rigged by men with guns", partly because it is wrong but also because those men with guns then go off into the creeks, they think, "The elections have happened, we've done our bit, we've been paid off. What do we do now? Hey, we've got a load of guns, let's set ourselves up as a kind of militant franchise." That is where a lot of these problems come from and that is why these problems need to be looked at in the round like that.

  Dr Mustapha: There has been an increase in an American-led presence in that region as well which also raises suspicions in people as to their motives.

  Chairman: I think we can understand that.

  Q39  Hugh Bayley: What is the point of the new Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs and what has it achieved to date?

  Mr Unom: It is gesture politics. It is the politics of gesture more than anything. It is not clear how it is different from the Niger Delta Development Commission, for example. In fact in the Niger Delta there is consternation that you have a Minister of Niger Delta Affairs in Abuja. Under the pressure of the militants, the Government has gone for quick fixes unfortunately and the problem with quick fixes is that historically they have been vulnerable to elite capture, which continues to be the issue, so you have an agency like the Niger Delta Development Commission—and I dare say that goes for the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs as well—and it becomes an issue of patronage, and it is only those who can access the patronage system who get the benefits. So you have projects which have utility but the cost of delivering them is so cost ineffective that the transfer of resources that these policies were meant to bring about is not brought about on the ground in the same way as perhaps had been intended. So on the face of it, it would be a useful indication of government seriousness about the region, but the solutions have not been thought through so what can the Ministry then do when the solutions have not been thought through?

  Dr Mustapha: If you look at the politics leading up to the formation of the Ministry, the impression was given that there was going to be a major intervention, but then the project came up and it was minuscule which showed that they did not mean it in that sense. At best I think it could cause inactivity in the Delta, another thing to dazzle people with as action but not doing anything.

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5   Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission. Back

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