As Nigeria corruptions breaks out big time, George Ayittey supplies the reading list:
The Modus Operandi

In case after case, African government officials get rich by misusing
their positions. Faithful only to their foreign bank accounts, these
official buccaneers have no sense of morality, justice, of even
patriotism. They would kill, maim and even destroy their own countries
to acquire and protect their booty because, as functional illiterates,
they are incapable of using the skills and knowledge they acquired from
education to get rich on their own -- in the private sector. Needless to
say, they are "derided by some African experts as `the extractors,'
people who squandered wealth without building for the future" (The Wall
Street Journal, 10 December 1996, A1).

The inviolate ethic of the vampire elites is self-aggrandizement and
self-perpetuation in power. To achieve those objectives, they take over
and subvert every key institution of government: the civil service,
judiciary, military, media, and banking. Even various commissions with
lofty ideals that are supposed to be non-partisan and neutral are also
taken over and debauched B press/media commission, human rights
commission, and commission on civic education. In Ghana, for example,
"the upper tiers of the police, army, security services and parts of the
civil service were built around the personal loyalty to the president
(Rawlings)" (The Economist, April 28, 2001; p.45). A National Commission
on Civic Education, established in 1994 to educate the people about
their democratic rights and responsibilities, was immediately hijacked
by the ruling NDC (Rawlings) government. As Free Press (Nov 27 B Dec 3,
1998) reported:

Despite official denials and protests, the National Commission on Civic
Education (NCCE) operates like an integral part of the ruling NDC in the
field in clear violation of the constitution creating it. It has been
firmly established that during elections and at NDC functions, NCCE
officials are ver y much in evidence, playing partisan NDC roles,
alongside similar organizations as Mobisquad, the National Council for
Women and Development and other shadowy politico-state organs.
    The NCCE involvement in NDC partisan affairs was once again unmasked
when Mr. E.K. Antwi, District Director of the Commission, openly
supervised the NDC constituency elections at Ejura. Contrary to the
provisions of the constitution which enjoin public officials to stay
neutral in party politics, Mr. Antwi also doubles as the
Ejura-Sekyeredumasi Constituency NDC electoral committee chairman. And
dutifully, Mr. Antwi was the one who supervised the constituency=s
elections of the party held on September 9, 1998@ (p.1).

As a result, state institutions and commissions become paralyzed.
Laxity, ineptitude, indiscipline and unprofessionalism thus flourish in
the public sector. Of course, Africa has a police force and judiciary
system to catch and prosecute the thieves. But the police are themselves
highway robbers, under orders to protect the looters, and many of the
judges are themselves crooks. On October 16, 2001, armed robbers had
operated for about four hours along the Osogbo-Ikirun road,
dispossessing their victims of valuables. Villagers in the area
subsequently mobilised themselves and descended on the suspected
robbers. They were however shocked, according to reports, to discover
that the persons caught at the scene were a police inspector and other
policemen. "When the policemen were accosted, they fled into the bush
abandoning their vehicle. The inspector was however caught and
subsequently beaten up by the angry villagers. Reports of the armed
robbery prompted police authority to send two patrol teams to the scene,
but on arrival, the teams were attacked by the mob who accused them of
complicity in the robbery operation. A total of three police vehicles
with registration numbers PF 5737, PF 5730 and PF 5660 involved in the
whole incident were all lying in the bush at the scene" (The Guardian,
October 17, 2001).

As a result, there are no checks against brigandage. The worst is the
military -- the most trenchantly perverted institution in Africa. In any
normal, civilized society, the function of the military is to defend the
territorial integrity of the nation and the people against external
aggression. In Africa, the military is instead locked in combat with the
very people it is supposed to defend. Ibrahim Ibn Ibrahim, a Sierra
Leonian journalist, was furious: "Apart from the corruption, the army
under Captain Valentine Strasser's government has become totally
incompetent, and is conducting a war against the people. The countryside
is nothing but destruction upon destruction. Whole towns and villages
have been destroyed (Akasanoma, 31 July - 6 August 1995, 38).

The September 1996 issues of Nigeria's news magazines, Tell and This
Week, screamed about "How [Military] Administrators Plundered the
States." Ike Nwosu, the ex-administrator of Abia State, "spent some
16.875 million naira ($214,000) on himself between March 1995 and March
1996" (African News Weekly, 28 October - 3 November 1996, 17. A retired
army officer, Major Kojo Boakye Djan, even admitted that: "In more than
one sense, armies in Africa are a major cause for worry. Literally, in
every African country, defense establishment takes the largest share of
national resource allocation" (Akasanoma, 31 July - 6 August 1995, 45).
Even the soldiers of traditional (precolonial) Africa were far better,
according to Major Boakye Djan: "In their alleged rudimentary forms,
precolonial African armies are now acknowledged to have been
functionally relevant, both in concept and organization, to the need of
the communities that created and sustained them."

"Across much of Africa, a soldier's uniform and gun had long been
regarded -- and are still seen -- as little more than a license to
engage in banditry" (Gourevitch, 1998, 218). Wole Soyinka (1996) handed
the postcolonial soldiers a blistering rebuke: "The military
dictatorships of the African continent, parasitic, unproductive, totally
devoid of social commitment or vision, are an expression of this
exclusionist mentality of a handful; so are those immediately
postcolonial monopolies that parade themselves as single-party states.
To exclude the sentient pluratity of any society from the right of
decision in the structuring of their own lives is an attempt to
anesthetize, turn comatose, indeed idiotize society, which of course is
a supreme irony, since the proven idiots of our postcolonial experience
have been, indeed still are, largely to be found among the military
dictators." (139).

A simple rule of thumb on African development has emerged: The index of
economic well-being of an African country is inversely related to the
length of time the military has held political power. The longer it
stays in power, the greater the economic devastation. Said African News
Weekly in its September 1, 1995 editorial: "No military coup in Africa
has produced a vibrant economy to replace the bankrupt one it set out to
redeem. In almost every case, the army boys have imbibed the ways of the
corrupt politicians they pushed out of office and even taken their
crookedness to a higher level" (7). The following African countries are
in worst shape economically and socially: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso,
Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Somalia,
Togoland, Uganda, and Zaire. Most of them have been ruined by military
coconutheads. West Africa has the largest collection of them. Said W. D.
Ansong of Abetifi-Kwahu of Ghana:
       Poverty is rife in Africa because African military despots have raped
our economies. Soldiers have no knowledge about the art of government.
Soldiers who have ruled countries in Africa have not been able to bring
about any meaningful development.
 Soldiers only enrich themselves when they seize power. It is now the
onerous duty of African civilians to organize themselves and force all
soldiers ruling in Africa to hand over power to competent civilians. If
they refuse, we must organize boycotts and civil disobedience to free
ourselves. We have had enough military rule (Free Press, 30 August - 5
September 1996, 2).

     Fed up with their antics, West Africa magazine, in its June 20-26, 1994
issue, offered them this advice:

Military people belong in the barracks not in the corridors of
political power. Since independence, Nigeria has had an obscenely high
number of military governments; they cited corruption and waste if
taking over from a civilian government and something else if
overthrowing another military junta.
  Needless to say, the Nigerian populace is fed up. The armed forces
cannot claim not to realize this. If a soldier should become bored, he
can always go and play ping pong; it is good for keeping fit. (1078)

Yet, within six months of assuming power from the late General Sani
Abacha, General Abubakar granted himself the country's highest award,
the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic. He also honored all past
military heads of state, with the exception of the late General Sani

Dealing with the Opposition

Although the ruler himself may not be personally wicked, opposition to
his regime builds rather quickly due to the activities and
pronouncements of his hirelings. They tend to exude arrogance and flaunt
their wealth, which invariably incites the envy and resentment of those
excluded from the spoils of power. Dissidents or opponents may plot
various ways of overthrowing the regime and replacing the ruling elites.

Autocrats employ a variety of techniques, ranging from the subtle to the
ruthless, to deal with the opposition -- frustrating and preventing
opposition leaders from winning power.

Incumbent advantage is ruthlessly exploited to ensure that the political
playing field is never level. The despot controls the transition to
democracy, writing the rules of the game, appointing the Electoral
Commissioner as well as the Constituent body which will write the
constitution to his liking.

"The current constitution of Zimbabwe entrenches tyranny and
dictatorship and does not give full effect to the enjoyment of all
rights of man," said a coalition of ten parties as they unveiled their
22-page draft constitution in December 1998. The Electoral gives
President Mugabe the power to approve or invalidate the results of any
general election. In addition, Section 58 of the Constitution empowers
the president to appoint 20 non-constituency parliamentarians. Further,
a government-appointed panel of traditional chiefs elect 10 chiefs into
parliament. Thus, the Mugabe's government "needs to secure only 46
seats, in addition to the 30 chiefs and nominated legislators, to retain
control of the 150-member Assembly" (The African Observer, Jan 18-31,
1999, 17).

Beyond this rigged system, there are other ways of neutralizing the
opposition. Co-optation may be tried first. A harsh government critic
may be offered a high-level appointment to silence him. Cases abound, as
hundreds of intellectuals and opposition leaders have fallen prey to
this tactic. In Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe's rival, was effectively
silenced with the offer of an inconsequential post as deputy leader of
their merged parties, ZANU-PF. Between 1993 and 1996 Kenya's ruling
party, KANU, "bought the backing of opposition deputies, 15 of whom have
joined the party" (The African Observer, 5-18 September 1995, 8).

In Cameroon, The Movement for Democracy and the Republic (MDR)
campaigned vigorously in the early 1990s against the dictatorial rule of
President Paul Biya. In the 1992 legislative elections, MDR won six
seats in the north. Suddenly MDR joined Paul Biya's party in a coalition
government and was rewarded with five cabinet posts. Among the new MDR
appointees was Dakole Daissala as minister of state in charge of postal
services and telecommunications. Dakole Daissala had been released from
jail only a year earlier, after seven years in detention during which he
was neither formally charged or tried. According to Claude Berri, a
Cameroonian journalist,
       "The opposition that held much promise during the heydays of
multi-party democracy in 1991 has been decimated by the callous and
Machiavellian tactics of one man: Paul Biya. Specifically, through a
combination of carrots and sticks, Biya, his French accomplices, and
RDPC local collaborators have succeeded in throwing the budding Social
Democratic Front (SDF) opposition into disarray. Bribes, gangsterism,
ethnic terrorism, divde-and-rule schemes, and brutal repression were
used to break the back of the opposition" (The African Nation, Sept
2002; p.33).

In Senegal, The Democratic Socialist Party (PDS), led by Abdoulaye Wade,
could have won the 1988 election but for systematic fraud. "Yet, rather
than challenge the government, Mr. Wade joined it. Mr. Diouf gave him
the vice-presidency and handed out ministeries to his deputies" (The
Economist, 18 April 1998, 44).

The professional elites have been relatively easy to buy off. Their
purchase price can be any one of the following: a ministerial post, a
diplomatic posting, a directorship of a state corporation, a Mercedes
Benz, or a government bungalow. Of all the various groups that aided and
abetted the destruction of the continent, Africa's intellectuals stand
out as the vilest traitors and accomplices. Said M. I. S. Gassama in
West Africa (21-27 March 1994):
  "Since independence, the overwhelming majority of the African
population, essentially made up of rural communities has looked up to
the educated few for deliverance. With few exceptions, however, it could
be argued that the majority of the African elite has not only
disappointed their people, but unscrupulously abused their trust by
over-indulging in a get-rich-quick bonanza. Instead of trying to
contribute to the meaningful socio-economic development of their
countries, they chose rather to become tools of economic paralysis and
political doom. Education to most of them means nothing more than power
and wealth at the expense of their poor uneducated kith and kin. This
folly on the part of some of our intellectuals has resulted in untold
hardship and misery for the innocent African masses who continue to bear
the brunt of the social tension and economic mess left behind. (495)

If the elites cannot be bought, a silent and effective method is to
pauperize them. For example, private newspapers that criticize the
government may lose advertising revenue from state corporations. Vendors
and journalists who write for such Aopposition@ newspapers may be
Ablacklisted.@ According to Ghanaian columnist, Eddie Fisher, ANo state
establishment or a private business concern, for fear of being
blacklisted itself, will offer an ex-government critic a job. And for a
long time to come such a person becomes persona-non-grata@ (Free Press,
May 5-11, 2000; p.9).

Poverty, hunger, and destitution will force them over to the tyrant's
camp. In Ghana, such quislings are derided as the "MMEs" ("man must
eat"). In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe increasingly resorted to this tactic.

It may be recalled that the struggle for black freedom Rhodesia (now
Zimbabwe) was waged on two fronts. In December 1961 the Zimbabwe African
People's Union (ZAPU) was formed under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo.
But disagreements over the pace of the struggle led to a breakaway of
the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), formed under the leadership
of Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, who is widely regarded as the "father of
Zimbawe's armed struggle." Both ZAPU and ZANU were banned completely in
1964 and most of their leaders were imprisoned by the racist regime.
Following the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) in May 1965,
both ZANU and ZAPU opted for a strategy of armed struggle. Robert
Mugabe, a Shona, who received his training and taught at a secondary
school in Ghana in the 1950s, replaced Sithole as leader of ZANU. He
also became the leader of ZANU's armed wing, the Zimbabwe African
National Liberation Army (ZANLA). ZAPU's guerrilla movement -- the
Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) -- was led by the aging and
venerable Joshua Nkomo, an Ndebele. These two forces waged a guerrilla
campaign that at one point in the 1970s was costing the Smith government
$1 million a day or 40 percent of its budget.

After independence in 1980, the new nationalist government of Robert
Mugabe became despotic. Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole fled Zimbabwe and
settled in the U.S. He returned in Jan 1992, believing Mugabe's promises
of reform. In October 1994, Mugabe's government went after Sithole's
Chulu farm, a commercial farm which produced crops like corn, wheat and
all kinds of vegetables, pigs, and dairy cows. On the unproductive side
of the farm, Sithole had settled about 2,000 homeless and landless
families. But the paranoid Mugabe government saw this as "sinister"
political threat. Sithole's farm was confiscated on the pretext that it
was a health hazard as if Zimbabwe's hospitals did not present even
greater hazards.

Undeterred by this intimidation, Rev. Sithole began a political campaign
around the country. After winning a parliamentary seat in Chipinge
District, his constituency, he became a member of Parliament and a
leader of the opposition. In October 1995, Sithole was arrested and
jailed on trumped up charges of "trying to kill Mugabe." He was released
on a Z$100,000 and had to surrender the title deed of his house and his
passport. After two years of gathering "evidence," he was convicted in
November 1977 and sentenced to 2 years. His status as a member of
parliament was revoked and all benefits (salary, allowances and medical
aid) terminated. In addition, he was denied compensation to all war
veterans, despite the fact that he founded ZANU.

In Uganda, buying off of the opposition is a phenomenon that has been
perfected since 1986. According to columnist, Henry Ochieng,

      "The Uganda People's Congress party no longer entertains kind thoughts
for 'Iron Lady' Cecilia Ogwal. Party faithfuls could not understand how
such an avowed opponent of the regime was given tenders to supply the
army with miscellaneous goods . . . Maria Mutagamba was until a few
years ago said to be one of the Democratic Party's strategists. She now
sits in government as State minister for Water. Mutagamba accepted the
offer at a time her creditors were said to be closing in. You could
thus, suppose the decision to join government was heavily influenced by
the need to escape from financial distress. There are many like her"
(The Monitor, Kampala, Jan 22, 2003).

When subtle tactics fail to work, African dictators resort to terror and
intimidation. The secret police or paramilitary organizations are
another way to suppress any signs of dissent or revolt and to ruthlessly
pursue critics. The latter may be arbitrarily detained or even killed.
On 24 December 1995 Nigeria's popular news magazine Tell featured a
cover story titled "Abacha Is Adamant." "Palpable insult!" Nigeria's
security agents, known locally as "kill-and-go" vagabonds, roared and
sprang into action.
     "Security agents raided the homes of the two leading editors of the
popular news magazine and confiscated the entire print run of its latest
edition before it went to newsstand. Tell's editor in chief, Nosa
Igiebor, was picked up at his home and taken to State Security Service
headquarters. Later in the day, more than a dozen security agents forced
open doors at the magazine's offices and searched the premises,
according to a statement by Tell's managing editor, Onome Osifo-Whiskey,
who went into hiding after his home was raided" (The Washington Post, 25
December 1995, A26).

A civilian or military agency, or often both, conducts intelligence and
surveillance to sniff out conspiracies. Such an agency also may
infiltrate opposition organizations to report on their activities, plant
malicious disinformation or even destroy the organization from within.
Moles are generously rewarded. In Ghana, Nkrumah created the Young
Pioneers to spy on people, a tactic adopted by Hastings Banda in Malawi
as well. In Rwanda, interahamwe was the secret police that incited Hutus
to slaughter Tutsis in 1994. In Zimbabwe, Edgar Tekere's ZUM party was
infiltrated by Mugabe lackeys, who put themselves up as ZUM
parliamentary candidates. Then at the last minute, they withdrew their
candidature en masse. When the deadline to file papers to the Electoral
Commission passed, Tekere had no candidates in the majority of
parliamentary contests. ZUM was crushed, paving the way to a de facto
one-party state. In the 1995 elections, Mugabe's ZANU-PF won all the
parliamentary seats except three for the opposition.

"Divide and conquer" is an ancient stratagem employed by the
colonialists. But in the postcolonial period, African tyrants have
employed it with brutal relish to keep the opposition divided and
ineffective. Since most African countries are polyethnic -- only Somalia
is ethnically homogenous -- African dictators have played one ethnic
group against another to maintain their grip on power: Kikuyu versus
Kalenjin in Kenya, Hutus versus Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi, and Ewes
versus Akans in Ghana. Nigeria's military rulers employ a slightly
different tactic: creating new states.

On October 1, 1996 General Sani Abacha created six new states, bringing
the total to 36. According to African News Weekly (7-13 October 1996),
"The states created were chosen from 72 requests made by communities all
over the country. Some 183 new local governments were created, bringing
that total to 776" (2). Eventually Nigeria may end up with over 250
states -- the same number as its ethnic groups.

The tactic may even be employed along occupational (workers versus
employers) or professional (students versus lecturers) lines. President
Moi not only uses tribalism as an instrument of tyranny but also divides
his countrymen using the institutions of the state: the police, the
courts, the powers of arrest and detention. Writes Bill Berkeley (1996),
an American journalist, on Kenya:
   "President Daniel arap Moi, who is 71 years old and widely loathed,
presided for years over a predatory single-party regime that was made
possible by the patronage of the West. No longer a Cold War asset, and
pressured to democratize, Moi has clung to power by playing dirty.
Skillfully manipulating the levers of coercion and bribery, he has
sabotaged Kenya's monetary system, emasculated the rule of law, and
stoked the destructive fires of ethnicity." (33)

In former Zaire, Mobutu's regime deliberately fragmented the army to
play one faction off another and thus reduce the threat of a coup.
"Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko, who has been in power for over
three decades, has run down the regular army to 20,000 men while forming
a succession of strike forces to use against internal threats. He
presides over 6 specialized security forces, hand picked for loyalty,
including the 10,000 strong Civil Guard" (The African Observer, 17-30
October 1996, 31).