Leading article: The price of corruption

Related Topics

Talk about the "Nigerian Taliban" makes for spicy headlines, but the cause of the four days of violence in which hundreds of people have died, and thousands have fled their homes in the north of that country, is something rather different.

The Islamic sect leader who died at the hands of the Nigerian police yesterday as his uprising was crushed was certainly an extremist. His movement opposes everything from books to medicine, democracy to capitalism. It wants a more fundamentalist version of sharia law than has been imposed in many northern states of Nigeria for the past nine years. But this was nothing to do with al-Qa'ida. If you ask why this tiny minority wanted sharia applied more thoroughly, the answer is revealing. It is because the radical social welfare schemes of sharia were not introduced to address the dire poverty in the area. Nigeria is one of the richest nations in Africa, as well as one the most populous. But most of that huge population see none of its massive oil wealth.

Nigeria is run by an elite of millionaires so corrupt and ineffective they do not deliver even basic services such as running water and electricity. Disenchantment is rife, not least among the 85 per cent of the nation's graduates who are unemployed. In such circumstances extreme solutions have their attractions.

But ever more extreme forms of Islam are not the answer. Good governance is. To say that is not a pious ideal. Progress is possible, as was shown when Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria's finance minister from 2003 to 2006. She introduced reforms and things improved. Nigeria went from the most corrupt nation on earth to just the sixth most. It was big progress for just three years. But the corrupt elite got rid of the reformer and things are slipping backwards.

The solutions have all been set out. Nigeria needs openness about government revenues and budget allocations. It needs Western governments to prosecute Western firms that pay big bribes there. It needs transparency in the procurement of government contracts and much more. But above all it requires political will, both in Africa and in the West. The elites can continue to ignore all that, of course. But the events of recent days show what will happen if they do.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas