Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point: Debates: African
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Nigeria: old wine in new bottles?

Nigeria's senate president, Chuba Okadigbo, has been impeached following a damning inquiry into corruption and mismanagement in the Upper House.

News and Information for Africa
Among other things, he was accused of spending $225,000 on garden furniture and having an excessive number of official vehicles - 32 in total.

The deputy senate president and another senior senator have resigned after being accused of gross abuse of public office.

Does this mean that nothing has changed since the introduction of civilian rule in Nigeria? Or is the senate inquiry and its after-effects a sign that corruption will be tolerated no longer?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

In Nigeria, after one year of civilian rule people some are questioning the success of democracy! How soon we forget

Ade Daramy, UK
One of the major problems affecting Africa is that we always want instant results to every crisis. As if time has not taught us to be patient. In Nigeria, after one year of civilian rule people some are questioning the success of democracy! How soon we forget. Does no one remember the recent past and the casual corruption that nearly brought the country to its knees? The decision to impeach the senate president should send a strong message to the thieves in political clothing. However, it will achieve nothing if, more heads do not roll, considering the level of corruption that exists. Wait and see and monitor the actions of the government. If they have nothing to hide they will welcome the scrutiny.
Ade Daramy, UK

Stealing of public funds is 'normal' in Nigeria. It is only those who have offended the 'establishment' that are sacrificed on the altar of the war against corruption. This is not the first and will not be the last case of stealing. I see the Okadigbo case as a decoy to divert the world's attention away from the bigger thieves that we all know.
Seyoma, Nigeria

Impeaching Okadigbo is just the first step. He should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and made to spend some time in one of Nigeria's infamous prisons. I am confident that he would learn after spending some time in our jails. It's a great day for the thousands that died for the restoration of accountable government in Nigeria.
James Uwaifo, USA

Maybe we're the ones with the problem, we keep blaming "them" and we have not really done anything to help each other

Zainab I Bello, USA
We cannot keep blaming " Nigerian politicians" or the "old and acceptable African tradition of corrupt political leaders." Maybe we're the ones with the problem, we keep blaming "them" and we have not really done anything to help each other (civilians). My God we still do not treat each other as brothers and sisters neither do treat each other as fellow Nigerians.
Zainab I Bello, USA

It is highly ridiculous and incredible to learn of the recent corruption perpetuated by some highly respected members of the senate. It is incredible and worrisome, most especially when one remembers that nothing seems to be functional in Nigeria, i.e. electricity, good roads, pipe-borne water and all the good things of life which millions of Nigerians are yearning for. It is therefore amazing that, instead of deliberating on how to move the country forward, all those law makers deliberate on is how to enrich their pockets.
Oyewole Popoola, USA

The secret to a better Nigeria and a better Africa, is to get rid of all greedy and corrupt leaders in every level of government. Until we get rid of all I mean all "self-seeking" people in our government, the citizens will continue to suffer.
Dr. Stanley, Nigeria/New Jersey

Nothing has really changed in Nigeria. The only change is the name of the political parties. All those who helped in bringing Nigeria to her knees are the same people in power. Who among them if tried by the Sharia law will not have both arms and legs amputated. All these guys were the former politicians or discredited military officers. Was it only Abacha who stole? What about the former presidents, governors, ministers, military officers etc who embezzled Nigerian funds and hide behind the scene to stage manage our `democracy. `
Emusa Peter., Canada.

It remains to be seen if what is happening in Nigeria is a mirage

Igbo Victor, USA
Prospective leaders in Nigeria should be given the opportunity to read the ideals under which the US government was founded and apply that to Nigeria. Having said that, the legislative in Nigeria body needs to pass "Whistle blowers act" and back it up with funding to prosecute offenders and reward those that expose corruption and illegal acts. Okadigbo is just one, but there are many more. Any body in Nigeria under thirty years of age has never seen good governance. It remains to be seen if what is happening in Nigeria is a mirage.
Igbo Victor, USA

Nigerian leaders and the people are sleepwalking, and when they woke up, the nation's treasure would evaporate. At this point, there is no hope for Nigeria, perhaps, when the people wakes up, they would realise their mistakes of bad judgement by taking chances with the Nigerian politicians of the old British school of politicking and corruption.
Chike Okafor, Chicago, USA

Nigeria is a blessed nation, endowed with the all the necessities that qualifies a rich nation. But corruption is a big set-back to this wonderful country. It is time for us to arise and fight against this deadly thing before it engulfs the whole nation totally. A severe investigation should be introduced to curb corruption, not only in senate including other branches of government.
Sony, Netherlands

We are a long way from a new beginning. There is massive corruption going on in the Senate and the House of Reps. It is easy to find a scapegoat. Those that are indicted ought to be tried and sanctioned. The probe should extend to the executive and should be turned into an annual event. Nigerians should rise up against their corrupt leaders for it is long overdue. Impeaching Okadigbo is a step in the right direction and we hope that this is only the beginning.
Ike Okeke, USA

Nigeria has a long way to go before reform takes firm hold in the country

Olusola, USA
Nigeria has a long way to go before reform takes firm hold in the country. The impeachment of the Senate president is just the beginning of reform. Until, democracy principles and civil reform take place in Nigeria nothing will ever be accomplish. Nigeria society and its institutions are full politicians like Okadigbo who think public money is their private funds to disburse at will.
Olusola, USA

This is a sign of good thing to come if it can be kept up. His impeachment would send a strong message to all Nigerians that we are not ready to condone corruption anymore. I would like other government offices and private companies alike to follow this example. As for Okadigbo, the Nigerian police should investigate him for corruption and if found guilty with any wrongdoing, be brought to justice.
Kenny Popoola, United Kingdom

It is gladdening to see that Nigeria after 40 years of independence is embarking on the implementation of public accountability. Holding public officers accountable and responsible for their actions. No more sweeping of bad deeds under the carpet. Okadigbo and the other culprits simply have to tried in the Nigerian court of law and imprisoned in Nigerian prison. This will send a strong message to the others that a new order is now in place. I hope Obasanjo will have the will to implement the newly passed anti-graft law.
Aniefiok Udott, New Orleans, USA

The recent ugly episode in our senate points to the fact that materialism and corruption have eaten deep into our people's lives. Nigeria really needs divine deliverance. We have really come a long way and we have a long way to go. I strongly believe that Nigeria will definitely know the path to progress. The unfolding drama in our senate is a serious pointer to this. The war against corruption has truly begun and it must continue. Nigeria must survive.
Rev. Victor Mbanisi, Nigeria/New York.

Gradually, democracy is taking a firm grip in Nigeria. The latest development is a sign for positive change.
Ifedi, London, UK

At last Nigeria is beginning to wake up to the reality of corruption. The sooner this sort of accountability spreads as far as the Police and government staff the better.
Eddie Edeogu, UK

Unfortunately, a good man succumbed to the greediness of Nigerian politics. Okadigbo is a good man and history will vindicate him. He was setup and he felt for the trap. I hope he will serve again in a different capacity.
Adam B. Galla, USA

I lived in Nigeria for a year and have a number of Nigerian friends

Prosizz, Togo
I lived in Nigeria for a year and have a number of Nigerian friends. I have listened to them speculate in many words the contempt they have for their rulers and the image they portray of Nigeria in the international scene. None of them is happy with the condition of things in their beloved country. That is why I personally believe that the impeachment of the Senate president will send a strong encouraging word to Nigerians in diaspora as well as at home, that the country is on the verge of a major change and this has already begun.
Prosizz, Togo

The culture of corruption will take years to destroy. The important thing is to secure democracy and keep working on accountability. Civil society groups have the most responsibility here. But I urge patience - this is long term work.
Sina Odugbemi, UK

If Nigeria is really changing, one would want to see all the guilty senators face trial and all the stolen money refunded. Then and only then can one say that Nigeria is beginning to change.
Bidemi Dawodu, Nigeria

For a country long ruled by corrupt military officers, it is not surprising that people like Okadigbo found their way to the corridors of power. The beauty of genuine democracy is that they will not be able to cover their evil deeds. Okadigbo's fall from grace shows that our democracy is working. May the ghost of all those who died in the course of fighting for our democracy continue to hunt other "Okadigbos" who are yet to be discovered.
Taofeek Ayinde, Saudi Arabia

Once the legislature and the executive are closely linked, there is bound to be such dishonesty. A total separation of these two arms of government will eradicate this.
Henry Beagema-Williams, New York/ Sierra Leone

It's time for Nigerians from all corners of the country to forget all the ethnic wrangles and tackle this endemic corruption that has been a stumbling block to the country's progress and achievement of greatness among the world community
James Hardwood, Australia

The present administration has a lot on its plate to address. The country has disintegrated into religious upheavals and high death tolls, more than those who died during the reign of Sani Abacha, resulting from people's desperation in making ends meet from the risky fetching of oil. Thus, Obasanjoreally needs to start working, as I see his first months in power as being a "period of adjustment". He needs to be stern and have a good vision if the people of Nigeria are to enjoy the wealth of the nation.
Sylvester Amara Lamin, New Zealand

Nigeria is going through a self-cleansing process. It will take some time for things to calm down.
Tony Afam, UK

The Nigerian Senate must be congratulated

Mambu Kawa, Sierra Leone/ USA
Chuba Okadigbo has been stripped of his position for his alleged greed and plunder whilst others have been forced to resign. This is clearly a break from the past where the allegations would never have made the light of day in the first place. For this the Nigerian Senate must be congratulated. It is up to the law enforcement agencies to make sure that the accused are fully investigated, and punished appropriately if found guilty.
Mambu Kawa, Sierra Leone/ USA

Isn't it a shame that one cannot pick up the telephone to call Nigeria nor can one send mail to the country with confidence? Yet, elected officials can give themselves a $225,000 Xmas bonus which is many times their official salary and then try to justify their actions. Only in Nigeria!
A.J. Atubo, USA

The action of the senate, which decided to probe itself, is highly commendable. However this should not stop at the senate alone but be extended to the other arms of government.
Okechukwu Onwualu, Nigeria

Correction please, Mr/ Ms Shimels Tsegaye (Ethiopia). Dr. Chuba Okadigbo was not Nigeria's civilian president but senate president. In the history of democracy in Nigeria, a probe of this magnitude has never happened before. It is a great change for the better!
Ade, Singapore

Africa does not need these selfish, greedy people

Adonis Macauley, USA
If we Africans want to see a better continent, we need to get rid of corruption. Chuba Okadigbo should be banned from politics forever. Africa does not need these selfish, greedy people.
Adonis Macauley, USA

Okadigbo is a very big disgrace to his party, his political camp, his family and Nigerians in general. He should be prosecuted to send a message to others like him that the days of corruption are finished in Nigeria.
Alex O. Emeziem, Nigeria

No individual is bigger than the nation. The National Assembly is not a single individual's possession, it is a living institution, which must be respected and held in high esteem. These senators have lost the trust and integrity of the Nigerian people.
Ernest Omo-Abu, New York, USA/ Nigeria

It would be improper and very misleading to conclude that nothing has changed. In fact, a lot has changed. It would have been unheard of under previous regimes, military or otherwise to have senior members of government being called to question, let alone being dishonourably removed from office. If we continue to beat continuously into everyone's head that Nigeria is corrupt and nothing good can come out it, sooner or later, it becomes a fait accomplice. Everyone buys into it, and no one makes an effort to better the situation. Give Nigeria a chance to learn from her growing pains. I wish that country the very best.
Che J. Sunday, USA

No-one should be above the law

Henry Williams, New York/ Sierra Leon
A thief, is a thief, is a thief. What message will the Nigerian government be sending to others who steal a plate of rice and do their time in prison? No-one should be above the law. Let them learn the hard way as a deterrent.
Henry Williams, New York/ Sierra Leone

I thank God for Senator Idris Kuta for rising to the challenge of stopping the evil Chuba Okadigbo. Okadigbo should be jailed as that is where he belongs.
Francis Abagi, Nigeria

Nothing much has changed, not for the better, anyway. While the legislature is fraud-ridden, the president, having provided no leadership on the explosive Sharia issue and the Babangida fraud issue has seen fit to obliterate the little town of Odi. In between, he has also found plenty of time to meddle in the leadership struggles of the Senate and the House of Assembly
Tunde Onabanjo, USA

This is the best thing that has happened to Nigeria. Henceforce, the masses shall not be deceived by public officers.
Actingbuggy, Nigeria

The insatiable quest for material wealth now asserts itself everywhere. If Chuba Okadigbo and his crew are indeed guilty of the sins for which they have now been impeached, I recommend that they be sent directly to jail, for betrayal of trust and for disgracing the proud Honourable members of the Legislative Arm of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Charles Onochie Ukattah, USA

The mere fact that the Senate was able to probe itself is a sign of better things to come

Adebayo Akinsete, Nigeria
The mere fact that the Senate was able to probe itself is a sign of better things to come. God has a plan for this country. Though the "cleansing" will not be a rapid thing, we should all have it at the back of our minds that decades of military rule has disorientated most of our so-called leaders.
Adebayo Akinsete, Nigeria

Mr Okadigbo was elected into the position of Senate President, which requires him to maintain a certain level of comfort that should at least be on par with other African leaders. Would the people of Nigeria wish that their President lived in less affluent surroundings than those leaders of poorer African nations? Of course not. Chuba Okadigbo was upholding the status of Nigeria and accusations of fraud are levelled at him by those jealous of his prestige.
Purity, USA

The "Third Republic", abruptly came to a disgraceful end under the leadership of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, because of pervasive and endemic corruption within the echelons of power and the civil service. Mr Okadigbo has proved to us once again, that, he is a man of the past. People like him cannot escape the hands of the Rule of Law if Nigeria is to prosper.
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria

Mr Chuba Okadigbo is the first civilian president after several years of military regime. Civilian government is relatively new for Nigeria and Nigerians have a lot to learn from other democratic countries. During the learning process, it is obvious that the learners, Nigerians, may miss a lot of important values but they are moving towards a better future.
Shimels Tsegaye, Ethiopia

As long as you have the old brigade in charge, Nigeria will never change. The current leaders of the Nigerian public have at one time or the other served in previous governments. I believe it's time for the millions of jobless young graduates to be given a chance to serve their nation.
Hussein Wada, Nigeria

My memories of common folk in Nigeria are warm. A wonderful, vital mix of peoples; ready with a smile and a joke, and industrious when allowed and encouraged to be. What a tragedy for a country to be plundered so contemptuously by its own rulers.
Timothy D, Egypt

Mr. Okadgibo's impeachment must conceive a revolution that will bring corruption down to its knees

George Mutua, Kenya
The impeachment of Mr. Chuba Okadigbo whether symbolic, substantial, or both is a clear indication that the "old and acceptable African tradition" of corrupt political leaders is facing a stone wall. However, Mr Okadigbo's insane accumulation of wealth, and his attempts to justify his actions, still portrays the inability of many African leaders to understand what constitutes civil service. Mr. Okadgibo's impeachment must conceive a revolution that will bring corruption down to its knees not only in Nigeria but also in the rest of Africa in general. Also, let us not put a degree of measure on corruption, whether it's $225,000 on furniture or $20 on an Italian tie, we must vehemently condemn and dispel the notion itself.
George Mutua, Kenya

It has been quite a while since the change of guards, and Chuba has had his share. Oust him and another will come in to continue the looting. That is the vicious cycle of African leadership.
Chege AG, Kenya

Nigerians have yearned for democracy since 1984. It finally came after 19 years. One would have thought that after the brutal bashing of our economy and national psyche, we would all join hands together to make Nigeria even greater than before. But some people obviously have other ideas. Mr. Okadigbo has raped this nation with this nefarious act of his. When he was asked about the findings of the probe, he, as any typical Nigerian politician would do, dodged the questions by saying that the probe was orchestrated and the members of the panel were concocting stories. Previously, he had said that he deserved his "Christmas bonus" of $220,000 by virtue of his position and office.
Yakubu Obi, Nigeria

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

02 Aug 00 | Africa
Brawl in Nigerian assembly
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other African stories