In how far are the British responsible for Nigeria’s corrupt practices?

David Cameron called Nigeria a “fantastically corrupt” country and I had to admit that I did not know what to think about such a statement. I, therefore, wanted to look up in what kind of situation he had said this comment and what the following reactions, especially from Nigerians, were.

Cameron held an anti-corruption summit on May 12th, 2016 in London. He announced his plans regarding an anti-corruption body which will not have any legal powers, but is supposed to get an advising function for governments to track stolen assets. He also mentioned plans to have a global forum for asset recovery to meet and discuss the return of once stolen assets to countries such as Nigeria or Ukraine.

Now turning to Cameron’s statement I found out that Nigeria’s former Commissioner of Police, Chief Ikechukwu Aduba, is of the opinion that the corruption in Nigeria originated from Britain. The corruption in Nigeria is said to be closely connected to the oil industry in the country. Nigeria’s history had periods in the past in which oil became overly important. It started off with the bribing of the rulers Nigeria when oil was discovered for the first time. During the 70s, 80s and 90s the bribing went on. This time the military dictators were involved. People of the Nigerian government went on accepting stolen funds from banks in the UK. This shows how the United Kingdom actively helped to make corruption in Nigeria grow.

Aduba admitted that Nigeria was corrupt and said that nobody was trying to deny that fact. Nigeria was ranked as the 136th “least transparent country” in the world as part of the corruption perception index by Transparency International in 2015. Aduba still is of the opinion that generalizing the issue of corruption for all of Nigeria is not acceptable.

He said that corruption was abhorrent to him and any chance to oppose corruption should be approached. He is of the opinion that only Nigerians can solve the problem themselves and no other country can help them to do so. Aduba said: “Least of all British Prime Minister Cameron should castigate us because he is part of the problem. If Nigeria were to be commodity, the inscription on the surface would be ‘Made in Britain’.”

In my opinion, the British influenced Nigeria strongly in the past and still do until today. I understand Aduba’s opinion when he says that he does not want any help in fighting against corruption from Cameron. But I still think that the connection of Nigeria and Britain might be too close until today and therefore, prevents Nigeria to win the fight against corruption in their own country. It is encouraging that Nigerians seem to be aware of their high potential of corruption which they need to try to reduce.