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Political Overview Of Nigeria: A Nation in Transition (Reviewed, 10th May 2001) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

Nigeria's President, Olusegun ObasanjoNigeria is a nation in transition. After more than 30 years of rule by different rapacious junta, a democratic civilian administration is now in place. The country is gradually working its way back to the due process of doing things. It will certainly take time. For apart from looting the country blind and perpetuating a culture of official subjugation, the men in uniform almost succeeded in institutionalising a culture of corruption. Aware of the implication of this, the current democratic civilian administration of Olusegun Obasanjo is bent on fighting corruption and putting in place a culture of transparency.

One of the cardinal programmes of his administration is the anti-corruption campaign. This is not just in words only but also in deed. The two chambers of the legislature have passed an anti-corruption bill, drafted by the executive, which prescribes punishment for government officials and their collaborators who want to corrupt the due process of doing things and those who are found guilty of corrupt enrichment. The main aim of the bill is to make corruption and sleaze in every form unattractive.

Unlike during the military regime, all forms of contracts are now done through an open tender. The government and other relevant agencies now advertise their projects and call for tender from contractors and other interested individuals and agencies. The bids are then publicly opened and a winner announced. This has gone a long way to eliminate bribery in the process of contracts awards. Doing business in Nigeria is no longer a dinner with the devil. Top government officials are aware of the stand of the president and the existence of the anti-corruption law. They are now more likely to play by the rules

Lagos, the commercial & industrial hub of NigeriaSometime in 2000, the country’s former number three citizen, Chuba Okadigbo, former president of the senate was forced to resign his post for his alleged involvement in some practices, which were seen as "fraudulent". Other principal officers of the upper house also resigned their posts as a result of the scam. Ordinarily this would have been seen as normal. But then things are changing. To further demonstrate this, the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, is currently probing the purchase of houses for officials of the presidency. The house is alleging that normal process may not have been followed. Though the minister of information Jerry Gana has defended the government, the probe is been seen as a further proof of the desire by all arms of government to see that nobody circumvents the law.

Some Nigerians were also mildly surprised recently when the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC published its half-year reports in national Newspapers. The report contains the details of transaction carried out by the NNPC for six months. Gaius Obaseki, the group managing director of the corporation says such publication is meant to allow everybody access to the financial transactions of the group. It is also a testimony to the country’s determination not to encourage corruption. During the successive military rule, the NNPC was one of the conduit pipes used by fraudulent officials to siphon money out of the country.

The controversial implementation of the Islamic Legal Code – The Sharia, however remains a contentious issue in the country. Some other states in the northern part have joined Zamfara state in the adoption of the legal code. Kano state also declared the Islamic Legal System in December 2000. There have been some misgivings about this. Some people see the law as retrogressive and likely to lead to crisis. The government has continued to maintain that it is firmly on top of the situation and that it would not allow the breakdown of law and order. In February 2000, a sectarian crisis in Kaduna led to a break of law and order and led to some killings and destruction. The situation was quickly brought under control by the government.

A group of traditional rulers, chiefs and some prominent citizens also waded into the crisis. The leaders now hold regular meetings with a view to dousing the tension in the land. The visit of President Bill Clinton of America in August 2000 further gave impetus to the need for peaceful co-existence in the polity. The United States President said Nigeria was better off as truly united country. Most Nigerians tend to agree with him.

It will take time before Nigeria regains its lost glory. But it appears the current government is working hard at it. It is sending signals to would-be looters that it is no longer business as usual.

Transparency international is fully in Nigeria. The Chairman in Nigeria, Isola Williams Is generally regarded as a transparently honest Nigerian. He stood firmly against the annulment of the June 12 election of 1993 – widely regarded as the fairest election ever held in Nigeria - and lost his commission in the army because of this. Indeed with such people monitoring the way things are being done, it is certain that doing business in Nigeria and even the process of governance will change for the better

Top picture: Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo
Second Picture: Lagos, the commercial &
industrial hub of Nigeria

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