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A purely analytical perception...

The Check is in the Mail





Nigeria has not only the largest population Africa but one of the largest populations in the world. It is the largest oil producer in Africa, and as such, oil accounts for 90% of the country’s export revenues.  The country also has substantial commercially exploited deposits of tin, coal, iron ore, zinc and natural gas.  Timber and livestock are abundant and are becoming major industries within Nigeria’s borders.  In addition, textiles, pharmaceuticals, paper, cement, food processing and vehicles are produced in Nigeria.  Although the country is not food-independent, it has the resources to be self-sufficient and produces cocoa, palm oil, rice, maize and sorghum, along with other agricultural products. Nigeria has been blessed with resources beyond its needs, but in spite of this, is hopelessly in debt, has an ever declining standard of living and has produced easily the most corrupt government in the world 


Nigeria has set a world standard with its back-to-back victories in the “Global - Most Corrupt” competition sponsored by Transparency International.  When the proclamation was made, General Sani Abacha, the then Nigerian President, declared in a public statement that “while winning the award for the second straight year was a humbling experience, other nations will not stand idly by and allow Nigeria to continue to maintain this distinction year after year without a fight.  There will be a concerted international effort by many nations in an attempt to dethrone Nigeria.  A jealous world will attempt to establish corrupt practices far more complex than what we have been able to devise.” Robert Young Pelton in his book, The World’s Most Dangerous Places put Nigeria into perspective:


“As OPEC’s fourth-largest oil producer, Nigeria is oil-rich and human-rights poor, the scam capital of the world, a boot camp for fatigue-clad banana dictators, and the Bermuda Triangle of currency. For all but 9 of its 40 years of independence, Nigeria has been ruled by the military but in May 1999, army general and former Nigerian strongman Olusegun Obasanjo became Nigeria’s first elected president since 1979, replacing the boys chomping on stogies behind Ray-Bans working for General Sani Abacha and later General Abdulsalmi Abubakar after Abacha died in mid-1998. .”



As a nation with few technical resources, it is important that the people of Nigeria continue to diligently work toward redefining global corruption standards, and it’s been predicted that the country would again lead the world next year.  “It was a national effort,” claimed one government official, “from the time a traveler from abroad arrives in our country until the time he leaves, our people attempt to demonstrate why this small country is the unchallenged world leader in business corruption, and as such, all others must be judged by the standards that we create.  We must rededicate ourselves to our mission and have our actions speak for us, not our words.”  In a related development, the National Government set aside the day as a national holiday and implored that every citizen continue to redouble their efforts on the nation’s behalf.


Conditions are so bad in Nigeria that it almost would seem like the foregoing is authentic. The country appears to be putting forth a superhuman effort to maintain their reputation as a nation of shakedown artists, petty thieves and criminals. It is so much a way of life that no apologies are offered for conduct that has achieved new lows by any civilized standard. Let’s take a look at the record.


1.         Commonwealth leaders have continued Nigeria’s suspension from the organization, based on the country’s continued human rights violations.


2.         Nigeria increased their external debt  $10 billion in the last 3 years (per the World Bank).


3.         Nigeria has been unable for the last several years to account for its earnings from its oil exports (per the World Bank).


4.         Nigeria is $17.4 billion in arrears on its external debt.


5.         Nigeria has “Pervasive Mismanagement” (Donors’ Meeting, Washington D.C.).


            6.         External debt is $34.7 billion, over one half of which is in default, and this is after several write-downs.


           7.         Export and Oil earnings continue to rise but the             country  defaulted on $3.5 billion in just the last year.      


            8.         Substantial evidence exists that 200,000 barrels of oil per day are diverted into the hands of military leaders for their own “use.”


            9.         The report calculates Nigeria’s gross national product per capita has declined from $1,160 in 1980, during the country’s oil boom, to $240 in 1996, placing it “among the 20 poorest countries worldwide.”


10.       Nigeria dominates the World’s the worst postal system with phony deals by mail.  Confidence games by mail are the country’s third largest source of revenue.


The U. S. Department of State has issued a number of warnings to American citizens thinking of traveling to Nigeria.  They are warned that starting at the Airport upon arrival until the time they leave, they will be subjected to theft, murder, arrest and shakedowns.  The Department of State further advises that they could be held by the government itself incommunicado for lengthy periods of time and possibly they could vanish and not be seen again.


The third largest industry in Nigeria is mail fraud.  The government has done little to shut it down, as so many people are supported from its efforts.  Fraud is the largest customer of the Nigerian Post Office as well.  Some of the scams are being conducted directly through Nigerian Government offices with the direct participation of Government officials.


Usually the swindlers propose to transfer substantial sums of American Dollars to an overseas bank account (American).  The account will receive a substantial proportion of the transferred funds.  Usually these funds are described as overpayments from government contracts or as advance payments awarded to an American company.


Nigerian’s are also adept at real estate scams, charity scams, will scams, fraudulent order scams, crude oil scams, advance fee scams, letterhead scams, death threat scams, Nigerian tax scams, U.S. visa scams and sample scams, to name just a few of the rip-offs the fertile minds of the Nigerians have thought up.  Recovery is literally unheard of, and the scams continue unabated in spite of the entry of the U. S. Secret Service Financial Crimes Division into the investigations.  The problem for Americans has become so severe that the Department of Commerce has suspended distribution of Commercial News USA in Nigeria to withhold potential contact information on American firms from swindlers.


Crime in Nigeria rose in the mid-1990s as a result of unemployment, economic decline, and social inequality, which are abetted by inefficient and corrupt police and customs forces. More than half of all offenses are thefts, burglaries, and break-ins, although armed robberies are also prominent. Nigeria is a major conduit for drugs moving from Asia and Latin America to markets in Europe and North America. Large-scale Nigerian fraud rings have targeted business people in other parts of the world. The business people are invited to help transfer (nonexistent) large sums of money out of Nigeria, with the promise of a share of the transferred money. Advance fees are requested to expedite this transfer, but the advanced money routinely disappears. Although there have been periodic campaigns to root out corrupt politicians and attack crime, they have had little lasting effect.” ([1])

Nigeria, April 7, 2000,the Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Nigeria. Nigeria has limited tourist facilities and conditions pose considerable risks to travelers:


Violent crime, committed by ordinary criminals, as well as by persons in police and military uniforms, can occur throughout the country.  Kidnapping for ransom of persons associated with the petroleum sector, including U.S. citizens, remains common in the Niger Delta area.


Use of public transportation throughout Nigeria is dangerous and should be avoided.  Taxis pose risks because of the possibility of fraudulent or criminal operators and poorly maintained vehicles.  Most Nigerian airlines have aging fleets, and there are valid concerns that maintenance and operational procedures may be inadequate to ensure passenger safety.


Nigerian-based business, charity and other scams target foreigners worldwide and pose a danger of financial loss.  Recipients pursuing such fraudulent offers risk physical harm if they come to Nigeria.  Persons contemplating business deals in Nigeria are strongly urged to check with the U.S. Department of Commerce or the U.S. Department of State before providing any information or making any financial commitments.  No one should provide personal financial or account information to unknown parties.  An invitation to enter Nigeria without a visa is normally indicative of illegal activity.  Under no circumstances should U.S. citizens travel to Nigeria without a valid visa.  Furthermore, the ability of U.S. Embassy officers to extricate U.S. citizens from unlawful business deals and their consequences is extremely limited.


The Central Bank of Nigeria, where numerous fraudulent transactions allegedly are finalized with senior bureaucratic participation, purchased full page ads in a number of newspapers throughout the world and said, among other things, when referring to mail fraud:


“Unfortunately, the scam has continued unabated, even with increasing sophistication, because of the criminality, avarice and greed of the so-called victims of the scam, who are also villains.  The bogus “business” proposals/deals which run into millions of US dollars manifest fraudulent intentions ab initio, which should ordinarily put any responsible and law abiding person on inquiry.  However, driven by fraudulent tendency, greed and the urge to make quick and easy money at the expense of Nigeria, many of the so-called victims have continued to ignore the warning of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to the effect that such transactions are bogus and fraudulent.” Central Bank of Nigeria, Samuel Ladoke Akintola Way. New York Daily News, September 4, 1997.


Naturally, when you have been caught “red handed” with your hand in the cookie jar, there is nowhere to turn but to blame the victim.  Numerous lawsuits filed in the United States have indicated that the Central Bank of Nigeria was an active participant in these frauds and that without their total cooperation and endorsement, they could not take place.  High officials of the Bank appear at closings, which have taken place within the confines of the Central Bank itself, giving the transaction credibility that it would not otherwise be able to generate.


Amnesty International also rates Nigeria at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to Human Rights activities regarding their own citizens.  Amnesty has accused the Nigerian government of inventing pseudo revolutions in order to imprison dissidents and journalist whose views differ from that of the Government’s.  They further accuse the administration of conducting trials of the prisoners in secret, not allowing visitation, not allowing access to doctors or lawyers, medical neglect and inhuman treatment. 


Locally, those who stand up to the government seems to vanish from sight.  The most vocal group historically has been the journalists, and last year alone, 40 of them were arrested by Nigerian Security forces.  Media Rights Agenda, a Nigerian civil rights group, stated:  “More journalists were arrested and detained or harassed and intimidated in other ways during the year, than any other in the history of Nigerian journalism.”


And what has been done about the situation in Nigeria?  Has the United Nations banished the country from its rooster of nations?  Has the United States stopped buying oil from Nigeria?  Has Britain stopped issuing Visas for its citizens to visit the country and run the risk of muggings and murder?  Nigeria’s constitution requires free elections, but has any world organization demanded that they live up to their charter?  Has the IMF called their loans, which are in default, and demanded payment of interest and principal?  The answer is no to all of the above.


There are logical answers to each question; for example, the United States has embargoed oil from so many rogue nations that it does not want to further restrict its purchases.  Additionally, Nigeria is well located logistically and is closer to the United States than other alternative sources.  Nigeria was a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and as such free egress has been a historic right.  Britain, in spite of suspending Nigeria from the Organization of Commonwealth Countries, is the largest exporter to Nigeria and does not want to jeopardize the foreign exchange that emanates from that country.


The United Nations is faced with countries that invade their neighbors, stockpile chemical weapons and build atomic bombs.  Nigeria, a nation primarily inhabited by white-collar criminals, represents a refreshing relief from the day-to-day physical damage that countries inflict upon each other.  Additionally, the United Nations is a strong believer in keeping dialog active and does not believe that banishment is an option.  The IMF does not want to punish the citizens for acts of their government.


So we see that there are good reasons for letting this criminal element continue to rob, pillage and destroy innocent people.  There will not soon be an end to Nigeria’s errant ways as the world nations have other fish to fry.  An interesting epilogue to the Nigerian saga will not be written by its neighbors rising up in anger over the criminality, starvation and poverty found in one of the richest nations in the world.  It will be the overthrow of the government by the country’s own military who feel that the 200,000 barrels of oil per day, diverted by the government to them is not an equitable share of the corruption pie.  When the military rises up to throw out the present corrupt government, then and only then we will see the world take action.


Nigerians are very creative in originating unique methods of separating tourists from their money. One of the more common ploys is for criminals to don police outfits or in the alternative, military uniforms. They are approached and told varying stories depending upon the circumstances but they all tend to end the same way. One of the more rewarding stories for the criminals is the one that tells the unsuspecting travel that his documents are not in order. The traveler is further told that this could result in substantial jail time for illegal entry and that he was under arrest. When the tourist pleads for latitude, a price is worked out and the documents suddenly are once more in good shape. However, variations of this game are also played by legitimate police officers trying to make ends meet. 


When asked whom they feared most in next year’s run-off for corrupt nation of the year, one Nigerian wag indicated that the country was Pakistan.  He went on to say:


“It is difficult to make the judges understand that there is a difference between corruption and stupidity.  We run a tight ship and work hard staying at the top of the heap relative to corruption, we run training programs from new people coming up the corruption ladder, and with our annual rectification program we are able to consistently weed out those that are not up to our high standards.  Because those guys can’t get anything right, they get a lot of publicity for bungled jobs with no payoff.  We don’t like to give them any more encouragement, but in spite of everything, they are tough competition, and we’re scared to death.  They came up four places last year, and only Russia, Columbia and Bolivia stand between us now.  These guys are rank amateurs when it comes to global corruption.  What they do best is destroy their own country when we are attempting to cause damage on a global scale.  They just aren’t in the same league, but yes, we’re plenty worried.”

[1]"Nigeria," Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000. 1993-1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.









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