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Nigeria loses third senior politician in corruption scandal

Posted by By Dino Mahtani in Lagos on 2005/04/05 | Views: 419 |

Nigeria loses third senior politician in corruption scandal


Nigeria's Senate president and third most senior politician has resigned after being accused of accepting a bribe to inflate a ministry's budget.

Nigeria's Senate president and third most senior politician has resigned after being accused of accepting a bribe to inflate a ministry's budget.

Adolphus Wabara is the third senior politician to leave office amid a corruption scandal in two weeks, following the sacking of the country's education and housing ministers by Nigeria's president Olusegun Obasanjo.

Mr Obasanjo is under pressure to show international creditors that Nigeria - Africa's largest debtor - is cracking down on rampant corruption and deserves debt relief. The country is rated the world's third most corrupt by Transparency International.

The departure of Mr Wabara comes a day after Tafa Balogun, Nigeria's former chief of police appeared in court in handcuffs to answer a $100m embezzlement charge following his arrest in March.

Diplomats and creditors have so far been relatively unimpressed with the government's crackdown on corruption, which began after Mr Obasanjo began his second term as president in 2003.

Many critics say the apparent crackdown is a selective purge against expendable politicians, and is deliberately aimed away from larger ministries or the state run oil company, NNPC, which is notorious for corruption.

Mr Obasanjo's allies and members of his reform team say the crackdown is genuine and point out that the president has said he is investigating other ministers for corrupt activities, including bribing lawmakers to bloat their budgetary allocations.

They also point out that the president has not spared Mr Balogun, who many Nigerians say was a close ally of the president during the run-up to the 2003 presidential elections, which many election monitors say was heavily rigged.

But Nigerians remain sceptical, pointing out that that not a single prison sentence has yet to be meted out to any high profile official,despite several arrests and court cases.

Two senior naval admirals were convicted by court martial earlier this year for their role in the disappearance of an oil tanker that had been impounded for stealing crude oil, but the officers were only dishonourably discharged from the navy.

"If things are left as they are now, I wouldn't call this a crack down," said one senior member of Mr Obasanjo's ruling party.

Meanwhile, most creditors remain uneasy about writing off some of Nigeria's $35bn in external debt. The IMF concluded last month that Nigeria's debt position was sustainable because of high international oil prices.

The country's budget is also more than three months overdue, after Mr Obasanjo refused to sign it into law.

The president has told lawmakers to reduce spending, which lawmakers have increased by $860m over his proposal. Analysts say that lammakers are even less likely to respond to the president's request after he named seven members of the National Assembly, including Mr Wabara, as involved in the corruption scandal involving the education ministry.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.