By Yekeen Nurudeen
A report by Chatham House has estimated that about $582 billion has been stolen from Nigerian treasury by public officials since independence,1960.
Specifically, the report revealed that close to $400 billion public money was stolen from Nigeria from 1960 to 1999, adding that between 2005 and 2014 some $182 billion was lost through illicit financial flows from the country.
Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute based in London.
In the report titled, “Collective Action on Corruption in Nigeria, a Social Norms Approach to Connecting Societies and Institutions,” said acts of diversion of federal and state revenue, business and investment capital, and foreign aid, as well as the personal incomes of Nigerian citizens, contribute to a hollowing out of the country’s public institutions and the degradation of basic services.
The report was launched in Abuja on Thursday barely 48 hours after a report by Oxfam which detailed the level of inequality in Nigeria was released.
Oxfam in its report said the wealth of Nigeria’s five richest persons are enough to end the country’s abject poverty.
And according to Chatham’s report, the stolen common wealth “represents the investment gap in building and equipping modern hospitals to reduce Nigeria’s exceptionally high maternal mortality rates – estimated at two out of every 10 global maternal deaths in 2015; expanding and upgrading an education system that is currently failing millions of children; and procuring vaccinations to prevent regular outbreaks of preventable diseases”.
It argued that corruption remains a destructive and complex practice that is openly acknowledged in Nigeria, but remains ubiquitous in the functioning of society and economic life.
While stating that the consequences of corruption for the country and its people are indisputable, the report however described “corruption, as perhaps the least well understood of the country’s challenges”.
“Corruption tends to foster more corruption, perpetuating and entrenching social injustice in daily life. Such an environment weakens societal values of fairness, honesty, integrity and common citizenship, as the impunity of dishonest practices and abuses of power or position steadily erode citizens’ sense of moral responsibility to follow the rules in the interests of wider society,” it said.
The report, coauthored by Leena Koni Hoffman, an associate fellow of the Africa programme at Chatham House and Raj Navanit Patel, a consultant at the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D candidate in the department of Philosophy, suggested policy approaches to dealing with corruption and offered methods of integrating behavioural insights into anti-corruption strategies.