Reforming The Unreformable: Lessons From Nigeria
Okonjo-Iweala writes spare, straightforward prose about an extraordinary undertaking: reduction of corruption in a country internationally famous for it. And that's just one of her challenges. She also has to stabilize an economy dependent on volatile oil prices; develop a persuasive argument for the cancellation of foreign debt; and keep her job.
A great deal of the book is technocratic. There are few accounts of dramatic meetings or personal confrontations; heavy on the policy choices. However -- her biggest challenge is corruption. And corruption always has a beneficiary. Nigeria's larcenous class fought hard. Okonjo-Iweala does mention the political side: seeking support from the people of Nigeria and from the elected President. And she frankly acknowledges the role of politics in supporting or hindering reform.
One of the worst problems is that previous generations of international loans went to kleptocratic rulers who simply stole much of it, leaving the current government with a very difficult debt problem and little popular support for paying off the old loans or ever borrowing any more money.
The author focuses the entire book on her experiences in Nigeria. However, a great deal of the problems and solutions are universal. If your government has borrowed money that it can't pay back -- if your public payroll is bloated by decades of sweetheart deals -- if a business person can't get a loan, or can't get the permits they need, without political juice -- then you've got the same problems. May your President and your Finance Minister read this book, and may you hold them accountable for honest government.
Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous: The Story Behind The Headlines
A frontline account of how to fight corruption, from Nigeria's former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
In Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has written a primer for those working to root out corruption and disrupt vested interests. Drawing on her experience as Nigeria's finance minister and that of her team, she describes dangers, pitfalls, and successes in fighting corruption. She provides practical lessons learned and tells how anti-corruption advocates need to equip themselves. Okonjo-Iweala details the numerous ways in which corruption can divert resources away from development, rewarding the unscrupulous and depriving poor people of services.
Okonjo-Iweala discovered just how dangerous fighting corruption could be when her 83-year-old mother was kidnapped in 2012 by forces who objected to some of the government's efforts at reforms led by Okonjo-Iweala―in particular a crackdown on fraudulent claims for oil subsidy payments, a huge drain on the country's finances. The kidnappers' first demand was that Okonjo-Iweala resign from her position on live television and leave the country. Okonjo-Iweala did not resign, her mother escaped, and the program of economic reforms continued. "Telling my story is risky," Okonjo-Iweala writes. "But not telling it is also dangerous." Her book ultimately leaves us with hope, showing that victories are possible in the fight against corruption