Nigeria's corruption price tag at $380 billion

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Robert Guest, a correspondent for the Economist, writes (subscription required):

The anti-corruption commission estimates that some $380 billion of oil money was stolen or squandered between 1960 and […] 1999. That is equivalent to about five years of national output. It is as if America’s leaders had walked off with, say, $50 trillion.

Simply put, since politics is the quickest route to riches in Nigeria, a lot of crooks go into politics. That makes life tough for those who are trying to clean up the system. Before the elections put everything on hold, Mr. Obasanjo's economic reform team had done a good job of making the central government’s finances more transparent; so much so that Nigeria won debt relief in 2005.

But the reforms did not go far enough, and barely began to drain the swamp of state and local politics. The chief obstacle to any anticorruption drive is that most rich and powerful people in Nigeria have a vested interest in its failure.

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