read the transcript bbc homepage by lindash


									PROGRAMME FOUR: NIGERIA CUE: Africa's biggest oil producer has become a by-word for corruption. Despite oil sales of more than two million barrels a day, living standards for ordinary Nigerians have been declining steadily. In the final programme of this series, Maurice Walsh asks whether economists and politicians now know enough to benefit from the tragic waste of Nigeria's oil riches. Can these lessons help new oil producers avoid the pitfalls of the past, and is there hope that even Nigeria might transform its remaining oil and gas reserves from a curse to blessing? BAND 1: SFX LAGOS TRAFFIC (fade and run under link) REP: Nigeria is Africa's most populous country and Lagos - where 15 million people live - is the continent's biggest city. BRING UP BAND 1: SFX LAGOS TRAFFIC (fade and run under link) REP: The traffic problems here are legendary. The chaos and brutality of the this unruly city are often held up as a symbol of the immense problems of governance that often threaten to overwhelm the whole of Nigeria. It is unlikely that Lagos would have grown to this size if Nigeria had not become one of the world's top oil producers. And it is unlikely that even Nigeria's difficulties would seem quite so insurmountable if it were not for the malign influence of its immense oil wealth. BRING UP BAND 1: SFX LAGOS TRAFFIC (fade and hold under insert) BAND 2: DOYIN SALAMI No matter which way you want to look at it, Nigeria remains dependent on oil. In terms of foreign exchange earnings, we are talking well in excess of 90% of foreign exchange revenues are oil-based. The public sector is also oil driven. BRING UP BAND 1: SFX LAGOS TRAFFIC (bring up then stop before link) REP: For our final programme in this BBC series on the story of African oil we're focussing on Nigeria, because it has emerged as the epitome of how the fabulous wealth that oil brings can be squandered by governments, leaving millions of people impoverished instead of enriched, and embittered rather than contented. Since the return to civilian rule five years ago, Nigerians have begun to ask if their new Government can steer the country back from the brink of disaster. Can the oil industry be turned into an engine of growth? Can the tide of corruption be rolled back? And by looking at these questions in Nigeria what can we conclude about the prospects for the other countries in Africa for whom exporting oil offers the tantalising prospect of breaking out of poverty? Currently, Nigeria serves as more of a warning than an example. The American economist Jeffrey Sachs - now advising the Nigerian government - surveys decades of missed opportunities. BAND 3: JEFFREY SACHS Oil has done nothing good for Nigeria up until now. The oil revenues were largely squandered by various military regimes, the oil was used as a base for massive borrowing in the 1970s, which turned into a debt crisis in the late '70s and early '80s which has turned into a 20-year agony for Nigeria. REP: For the past five years, the hopes of ending the agony have all rested on one man. BAND 4: NEWS CLIP MALE CORRESPONDENT: "Olusegun Obasanjo is a general with a difference. In 1979, after three years as president, he voluntarily handed over to civilian rule..." (fade and run under link) REP: When he was elected President in 1999, President Obasanjo held out the promise that he could personify Nigeria's break from its past. More than two decades before, he had ruled Nigeria as a military dictator; now, as a civilian, he promised to bring democracy and accountability to government.


BAND 5: OBASANJO The fight against corruption starts with the leader himself... The first thing is that the leader must lead by example... and if you lead by example I would say half of the battle is won. REP: President Obasanjo's election was hailed as the most important development in Africa since the end of apartheid. He set about rebuilding a collapsed state. Jeffrey Sachs was awed by the challenges the new president faced. BAND 6: JEFFREY SACHS President Obasanjo came in with about the toughest task that I've seen anywhere in the world. With 130 million people, an absolutely destroyed and ravaged civil service, which had been subject to corruption, brow-beating, intimidation, exclusion, during long periods of quite violent military rule, President Obasanjo had to create a new democratic country almost from scratch. He had to find a coalition of young Nigerians who wanted to get this country floated again. REP: Earlier this year a powerful member of this new coalition of young Nigerian technocrats, Oby Ezekwesili, joined leading figures in the oil industry at a conference of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London to discuss the emergence of Africa as one of the most promising regions for future production. Dr Ezekwesili is a senior adviser to President Obasanjo on his anticorruption programme: her nickname is "Madame Due Process." She insists that her government is determined to clean up the oil industry. BAND 7: OBY EZEKWESILI Being able to send a clear signal that no sector of the economy is spared from the anti-corruption disposition of the administration is central to a successful anti-corruption programme. And for us this is not public relations. This sector is a sector that most Nigerians really don't know anything about. Most of them don't understand the nuances of that sector and yet this is a sector that determines a lot of things in their lives and so they need to know. REP: A major component of the government's anti-corruption programme is setting out clear information on how much money is coming in from oil and where it goes. A key initiative was the decision to publish, in Nigeria's newspapers, a breakdown of how the central government allocated oil revenues to the states and regions. During a taxi ride in Lagos, Charles MacPherson, a senior policy advisor on oil at the World Bank, discovered how much of an impact this information could have on ordinary Nigerians. BAND 8: CHARLES MACPHERSON I talked to the driver and I asked him where he was from. He said he was from Delta State and I said "well you're an oil man, you're from an oil province," and he laughed rather ironically and said "Well little good does that do me, I don't see any benefits from it." And I happened to have the first edition of these reports that came out in my briefcase and I pulled it out and started reading to him how much money his state was getting from oil revenues, and by looking at the same publication I was able to tell him how much his local government had received. At that point he became really quite excited and he pulled the car over - unscheduled stop at the side of the road - and he said: "Let me see that newspaper!" He took it from my hands and went through it and was really very intrigued; asked where it came from, and said he was going to start buying this newspaper regularly every month and said he was going to check up on things. Which fits perfectly with the importance of getting grassroots awareness of the scale of these revenues and who is responsible for them. REP STANDUP: And when he read the figures for his own area, his own village, what was his reaction? MACPHERSON: Well his reaction really was one of indignation. He felt there was a great deal of corruption and theft at the local level and mismanagement of the revenues. REP: President Obasanjo's government gains much of its credibility from its claim to be taking seriously the righteous anger of ordinary Nigerians who have had their birthright stolen. It's made


much political capital out of its drive to repatriate millions of dollars of oil revenues stashed away in foreign bank accounts over the years by former military rulers. BAND 9: REP STANDUP I'm standing in the City of London, one of the world's great financial centres. All of the world's major banks have branches here. And in many of them are accounts containing oil revenues siphoned away from Nigeria by the country's former ruler General Sani Abacha. An official investigation has shown that nearly two dozen banks in Britain hold accounts linked to Abacha family members and their close associates. These accounts are now at the centre of a major controversy between Nigeria and Britain. The Nigerian government says the money deposited in them was looted from the national treasury, and it's demanding that it all be returned. SFX ROAD ATMOS (fade and run under link) BAND 10: OBY EZEKWESILI The fact that advanced economies can continue to hold on to the corruption proceeds that are in their financial and banking systems is very disappointing. REP: Dr Ezekwisili, the Nigerian government's anti-corruption adviser, complains that foreign banks and governments are to blame for the delay in returning the stolen oil revenues. BAND 11: EZEKWESILI It is not until these economic partners can develop some mechanism for tracing this wealth that Nigerians can feel that there is a total commitment to helping the nation fight corruption. REP: But some of President Obasanjo's critics believe the bravado of this effort to recover stolen money abroad conceals the government's weaknesses at home. Take the case of General Abacha. His death from a heart attack opened the way for the elections that brought President Obasanjo to power. Some of the money he salted away has been recovered, notably from Swiss banks. But, say the government's critics, why just pursue Abacha's millions? Why, they ask, is the government not confronting others who are alive and can be brought to justice? In particular, there is a growing clamour for the publication of an official report which is believed to detail misuse of huge amounts of oil revenues by General Ibrahim Babangida in the early 1990s. General Babangida has turned out to be an enthusiastic supporter of President Obasanjo - and he himself could be a candidate for President in 2007. BAND 12: REP STANDUP What about President Babangida's money? There's been some criticism of the President here because some people are saying that he's putting a lot of effort into finding Abacha's money, not so much effort into finding Babangida's money. EZEKWISILI: That's not a correct criticism; every account that can be proven to warehouse money that went out of Nigeria is being looked for. REP STANDUP: But there is a report, isn't there, which hasn't been published yet, which details what happened to Babangida's money, why hasn't that been published? EZEKWISILI: I think that, as events go on, the government will probably make its own decisions as to what it wants to do with that particular matter. REP STANDUP: But surely, if you're committed to transparency and the right to know, that is the kind of report that ought to be public isn't it? EZEKWISILI: Yes, but you also know that there are procedures for government white papers and things like that.


REP STANDUP: But when you talk about foreign governments you say they hide behind all sorts of procedures and legal stuff in order to hide the money that has been silted away in foreign bank accounts. You're sounding quite similar when you say "we can't do this because of procedure." EZEKWISILI: Actually not. The white papers are procedures we have for publishing them. Now would this government want to at a particular point make a decision on that report, it will be left to the President to determine. REP: President Obasanjo won re-election last year, but much of the hope that was generated in 1999 has faded. People are questioning his determination to follow through on his promises to punish corrupt officials. A good example is the special investigative unit established three years ago, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission. Its chairman, retired Judge Mustapha Akanbi, boasts that it has made great progress bringing to trial people who previously would have been thought immune from prosecution. But the cases have become bogged down in the courts. BAND 13: MUSTAPHA AKANBI As of today, we have 76 individuals facing trial in various courts in the country. REP STANDUP: Have you convicted anyone? AKANBI: We had a local government chairman who was sentenced to three years imprisonment. REP STANDUP: So one man… one man has been convicted of these 76 cases? AKANBI: Well you have understand why none have been convicted. Up 'til now, we are not getting the judges to sit down and get on with the cases. We have even asked for an amendment of the law to make sure that all cases of corruption should be heard by the federal High Court. REP STANDUP: It hardly suggests that corruption is a priority does it when you set up a commission to tackle corruption, this commission investigates cases and then there aren't even the judges to try them? AKANBI: No, that is why we are saying now that the courts need to sit as priority; so all we need to do is just one more push by the court to try these people to conclusion. REP: There are signs that Nigerians are not convinced by the rhetoric of "one more push," that, on the contrary, many people believe whatever energy the anti-corruption drive had at the beginning may already be already spent. Dr Doyin Salami, a senior economist at the Lagos Business School, says people have become cynical about the government's good intentions. BAND 14: SALAMI When you look at the government in Nigeria, my heart, as a Nigerian, wishes it well. My head, thinking rationally, suggests to me that we are a long way short of the mark and that what we have on ground by way of policies may not actually deliver what is intended. As far as corruption and the tackling of corruption is concerned, if anything the opinion on the streets is that it is business as usual, or perhaps even worse than usual. As a friend glibly commented to me, you would have to have the mother of all bad luck to be prosecuted for corruption and that if you are so prosecuted it must mean you have really upset those who have the powers and the wherewithal to prosecute. REP: The Nigerian government has two different audiences for its anti-corruption drive. It needs to convince Nigerians that it can make their country more just, prosperous and secure. And it needs to convince international investors and foreign donors that their money won't be wasted. BAND 15: GEORGE W BUSH With greater opportunity the peoples of Africa will build their own future of hope, and the United States will help this vast continent of possibilities to reach its full potential.


REP: In the Nigerian capital Abuja last year, President Bush won a standing ovation when he raised expectations that the United States was at last becoming interested in Africa. Leaving aside its oil wealth, Nigeria could be a prime candidate for aid. The problem for President Obasanjo is that when President Bush talks about helping Africa he isn't necessarily thinking of Nigeria. Professor Jeffrey Sachs says there is evidence that the perception of Nigeria as an oil-rich country has left it short of desperately-needed development assistance. BAND 16: JEFFREY SACHS Aid for Nigeria is about $2 per capita compared to an average in Africa of about $25 per capita. Nigeria has not had its debts cancelled even though they have been unpayable for a quarter century. Why is this? It's partly because of the mystique of oil in the minds of leaders of the UK, US, European Union and so forth, who have wrongly assumed that Nigeria can just make it on its own because it has oil. But that view simply defies arithmetic; the oil isn't enough for Nigeria to make it on its own, so the mystique of oil has complicated Nigeria's relations with countries that ought to be cancelling Nigeria's debts, giving Nigeria financial support to help save children from malaria and so on. You have reformers here fighting a battle almost without any help or recognition from the rest of the world and that has often been a recipe for reforms not taking off. REP: Help from the rest of the world is now deemed essential by a new generation of oil producers in Africa who want to avoid the fate of Nigeria. As we have seen in this BBC series, the United Nations, the World Bank and NGOs are now being called upon by leaders of countries such as Chad and Sao Tome to equip themselves to manage their windfall income. Professor Sachs is one of those giving the advice. He and others have described and analysed the curse of oil; now he says there is enough knowledge to solve one of the most persistent economic conundrums of the last half-century across a whole region. BAND 17: SACHS Here's a region where you have fragility all up and down the coast. You have impoverished countries, all the possibilities for corruption, misdealing, misrule, bad investments that have happened in the past. But you also have the possibility of doing much better. And so, if we can make a general framework for West Africa where the major players in the oil industry could actually construct a transparent framework of procedures, it seems to me we could turn the page on a very bad quarter-century of underdevelopment around the oil sector and see a quarter-century in which this resource could be a positive benefit. REP: This is not just about economics. Of course, solving the oil curse would mean that billions of dollars would be put to use building schools and hospitals instead of accruing interest for corrupt politicians in secret Swiss bank accounts. But getting to this point will require fundamental political change; accountability instead of authoritarianism, respect for the law instead of contempt for the powerless. In another famous study of the oil curse, The Paradox of Plenty, Professor Terry Lynn Karl showed how dealing with oil the wrong way has produced wars as well as impoverishment. She argues that rich countries will pay a heavy price for neglecting the new oil states of Africa. BAND 18: TERRY LYNN KARL Unless these governments slowly are encouraged to become more democratic in their operations, more competitive, more representative, we will have more and more states coming apart as a result of not being able to manage the wealth of oil, we will have zones of conflict in which all kinds of guerrilla and terrorist activity can operate, and we will have a tremendous, tremendous resentment against the advanced industrialised countries for taking the riches of these countries, for utilising them for our own purposes and for leaving these countries in the state they are in. This to me is a worldwide responsibility and it is a worldwide danger. REP: With industrialised countries, led by the United States, increasingly committed to diversifying oil supplies, with technological advances making it possible to explore oil that was previously out of reach in the seas off West Africa and with soaring oil prices making all this more profitable, Africa is becoming a major oil producing region. We've already seen in this series how vulnerable some of the new oil producers are. In Sao Tome, people still talk about the possibility of a repeat of last year's


failed coup. When we visited Chad there were roadblocks on the streets of the capital after a mutiny by troops; nobody was entirely sure if it had been permanently resolved. And in the last few weeks there has been enormous publicity devoted to the trials of British mercenaries who were detained on their way to carry out a coup in Equatorial Guinea and grab a share of its oil wealth. International institutions are stepping in to help, but at the same time, a new generation of leaders in Africa say it's down to them to resist the curse of oil. In Sao Tome, President Fradique Menezes is disarmingly frank about the temptations of vast oil wealth in an impoverished country and the importance of leaders making an act of will to uphold the law. BAND 19: FRADIQUE MENEZES It's easy to corrupt people in Africa. It's easy! That's the reason we must be resistant - we must resist sometimes even me! Because we are talking about the business of millions of dollars. Sometimes you ask yourself, look at this! Millions of dollars! Now it's billions of dollars. But you must resist this. Even with the law, this law we are doing now. First of all it's ourselves - those who are leaders of the things to convince ourselves that we must follow the law. If we are not really committed, all of us committed to that idea, the law will become a beautiful written paper, you know, very well for the foreigners to know that we have a law, but ourselves we are the first to jump out from the law. REP: Such frankness is borne of the wisdom of decades of disaster. In Chad, Youssef Abassallah, the Oil Minister, says he is not promising his people untold prosperity. Instead, he's telling them that the oil can bring unglamorous improvements. And he's praying that history won't repeat itself. BAND 20: YOUSSEF ABASSALLAH SPEAKS (fade and run under translation) TRANSLATOR: I'm not telling people that oil's going to solve all their problems the day after tomorrow; that they'll all be driving Mercedes cars and living in posh houses. I'm talking about a long-term vision of the benefits oil will bring. We want to build roads, to provide people with water and electricity. And if we can do these things to improve the lives of our people then we will really have done something with this oil. BAND 21: REP STANDUP Oil has caused wars; it's destabilised countries. What's to say that won't happen in Chad? ABASSALLAH SPEAKS (fade and run under translation) TRANSLATOR: We have had many years of war before we had oil. People have experienced war in their blood and their flesh. I don't think they want war in the time of oil. BAND 22: BRING UP ABASSALLAH (fade and run under translation) TRANSLATOR: May God preserve us from this curse of oil. (END).


To top