Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A tipping point against multi-national corrupt practices in Nigeria?

The Siemens-gate scandal (which alleges that former Minister of Communications Cornelius Adebayo accepted a 500,000 euro bribe from Siemens, amongst others in the frame), hot on the heels of the Willbros trial, is starting to make me think there is a tipping point at work against multi-national corrupt practices in Nigeria. Sorry to use an over-used phrase (tipping point), but it does have meaning in this case. See an article in Business Day from yesterday for more on the various other cases ongoing. The steady work of the EFCC, the ICPC, NFIU, NEITI etc is slowly gathering - to use another cliche - critical mass. It must fast be dawning on multi-nationals wishing to bag contracts that bribes and kick-backs can no longer be the way to go in Nigeria - and that they must behave in Nigeria as they would behave in their home country. Look out for more dodgy stuff to come out of the woodwork shortly...


indar ph 2:45 pm  

I found this story to be particularly relevant after my experience of working for GTZ in Abuja.
The GTZ website states that the EoPSD project in Nigeria is funded by "the Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ)", i.e. the German Government. In fact, I was told that 60% of the funding is coming from the BMZ, the other 40% is from another source (un-identified). It would be very interesting to establish who is providing the rest of the funding, and whether there is any connection to Siemens.

Gbemi's Piece 2:48 pm  

These multinationals should learn to follow the ethical rule of law - just as they would in their own countries. In Business Law class in college, we were taught that by law US companies need to follow US regulations in ADDITION to the laws of the countries they are operating in. I wonder how many companies actually do so. Glad to know that this is all coming to light.

imnakoya,  3:32 pm  

This type of corruption - from paid expense to exotic resorts and golf clubs to cash dole-outs - is everywhere, and most businesses do make provision for them in their budgets. It's just that the Nigerian executives have deeper throats than their western peers.

Are we at a tipping point? Not yet. As long as we rely on foreign press to dig up the mess, we will continue to be entertained by sporadic stories of this kind for a long time. Until the Nigerian press is empowered, honest, and really socially conscious, we aren't at a tip point.

Simon McIntyre 4:14 pm  

It's not just in Nigeria. Samsung are in trouble in Korea as well, perhaps this is a world wide tipping point we're reaching.

Naapali 10:40 pm  

Shell, NNPC and Ibori made it to the cover of the Financial Times on Saturday November 18. Corruption in Nigeria though does have deep roots and does not tip as easily as cows in Wisconsin

Aspiring nigerian woman 10:47 pm  

I don't think we are at a tip point yet. It is a shame that foreign companies continue to engage in unethical practices, outside their country. Someone should begin to probe how managemnet consultancies, building companies etc. get long term contracts in Nigeria. These money were not just withdrawn from banks and carried in "ghana must go bags", both foreign and local banks must be involved in all this mess. The whole thing stinks!

RJ 10:52 pm  


Majority of companies DO NOT follow US regulations(or regulations of their parent companies) when they are in other countries especially "3rd world countries" because it doesnt profit them to do so. They fast become accustomed to "the ways". They just tell us that in business law class to make us feel better. I had an arguement with my professor and some prick in my biz law class a few years back over this same issue.

indar ph 10:48 am  

more on Siemens and GTZ:

"Companies cooperating with GTZ for the first time tend to be disappointed with the amount of public-sector money on offer. When asked after the measures are concluded, however, the majority report being positively surprised by the quality of the advice they received and the fact that the "development workers" often had excellent contacts useful for helping the companies get into the market and reduce the risk of their engagement."


Robbie 11:46 pm  

I know I'm about to step in it...

I'm glad to see Bello, (the late) Elewi, and friends on the hot seat. I worked on a project to start a new ISP seven years ago, and I got no end of runaround from the MoC, as well as from them personally. When we first went to the Ministry to try and get licenses, it quickly became clear that we weren't going to even get the time of day from them without dashing various people around the secretariat. It was insane. The Ministers/Ministers of State didn't go so far as to ask for a handout, but they also were passive/aggressive in such a way that I felt it was strongly insinuated. In the end, my company folded and I came back to the US. When people asked me why there were no good ISPs in Nigeria, I always answered that it's because the government wants it that way.

While I think what Siemens did is shameful, I think that all the blame can't fall on them. Until government processes are transparent, this sort of evil corruption will continue on the part of officials and businesses alike. It's a Catch-22 situation- government officials want dashes to do anything because businesses give it to them. So if a business comes along and doesn't want to pay a dash, they get left in the dust. The cycle has to stop somewhere, and I can only hope that this is where it starts to stop.

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