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Things fall apart because the centre holds

December 17, 2009

A major review of Nigeria compiled by its African peers says too much power is concentrated in the central government, inhibiting “true federalism,” and that the executive branch of government has excessive power compared to the legislature and the judiciary.

The report also says that “corruption remains the greatest and most troubling challenge to realising Nigeria’s huge developmental potential,” making it unlikely that the government will achieve its objective of becoming one of the world’s 20 largest economies by the year 2020.

AllAfrica.com: Executive Branch Have Too Much Power, Says Peer Review

If you take the abuse of office, if you take the corruption, if you take the impunity with which the rich do break the law, it’s something that happens across the board. The people you are dealing with are not isolated individuals. They are part of a group. They are part of a caste.

They’ve got allies in politics. They’ve got allies in bureaucracy. And their allies work with them and they stick together. So it’s never easy to just say you are dealing with these CEOs [who were fired and face criminal charges] and that’s the end of it.

You’ve got to realise, it would be very naïve to think that all the people who have been beneficiaries of their largesse, the political parties that have received donations, the politicians that have been funded, the sentry consultants and contractors that are around them, it would be very naïve to think that they are just going to watch you basically cut off what they see as a major source of financing.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Central Bank of Nigeria, in a recent FT interview

Now, in some cases, governments are willing but unable without support to establish strong institutions and protections for citizens – for example, the nascent democracies in Africa. And we can extend our hand as a partner to help them try to achieve authority and build the progress they desire. In other cases, like Cuba or Nigeria, governments are able but unwilling to make the changes their citizens deserve. There, we must vigorously press leaders to end repression, while supporting those within societies who are working for change. And in cases where governments are both unwilling and unable – places like the eastern Congo – we have to support those courageous individuals and organizations who try to protect people and who battle against the odds to plant seeds for a more hopeful future.

By Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall Washington, DC December 14, 2009

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