It’s been a tough road for Nigeria as the oil-rich country has struggled to build up its energy industry. In spite of the nation’s ample resources and apparent willingness to commit themselves to oil and gas extraction, a small pocket of corruption has plagued the African nation’s development. Now, after years in the grip of a handful of scam artists, Nigeria is working its way back from the brink, and economic stability might be right behind it.
The Lowdown On Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Problems
Between 2011 and 2015, Diezani Alison-Madueke enjoyed immense professional acclaim. Not only was she Nigeria’s Minister for Petroleum Resources, Alison-Madueke also made history as the first woman to be elected president of OPEC. According to officials, during that same time Alison-Madueke was also being bribed with millions, including millions more spent on lavish gifts.
The two businessmen at the heart of the scandal — Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore — were Nigerian oil men. Aluko and Omokore allegedly corralled several investors into bribing Alison-Madueke who, in turn, awarded the energy executives about $1.5 billion in government contracts.
Not only were Aluko and Omokore’s employees unqualified to receive the contracts, they reportedly didn’t even deliver on several.
The Justice Department Is Suing the Culprits
Months after the Nigerian government began it’s case against Diezani Alison-Madueke for money laundering, the United States has jumped on the bandwagon. The Justice Department has filed a suit against Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore in order to recover $144 million in assets. Among them are a Manhattan apartment valued at $50 million and a yacht valued at $80 million.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco wants the suit to send a clear message, saying, “The United States is not a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption.”
New Contracts and New Laws May Spell Success for Nigeria
At the end of May, the Nigerian government passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, a long-gestating attempt at reigning in the country’s unruly oil and gas industry. For a country plagued by an international reputation for corruption, the blll’s passage is a big step forward in proving their commitment to reform.
This latest move seems to have piqued the interest of at least one first-world nation. Britain’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has expressed interest in shoring up Nigeria’s oil and gas industry with an influx of investment dollars. Time will tell if anything arises, but Nigeria’s recent move to correct the public’s perception is nothing if not commendable.