Chop fine: the human rights impact of local government corruption and mismanagement in Rivers State, Nigeria

Chop fine: the human rights impact of local government corruption and mismanagement in Rivers State, Nigeria

How corruption takes the oil-wealth away from the Nigerian people

This Human Rights Watch report examines the misuse of public funds by local officials in the Rivers State of Nigeria’s. It is based on interviews in Rivers state with government and donor agency officials, civil servants, health care workers, teachers, civil society groups and local residents. Also state and local government budgets are analysed.

Despite Nigeria’s strong oil industry ordinary Nigerians have derived appallingly little benefit from that wealth and the misuse of public funds by local officials had harmful effects on primary education and basic health care. Findings of the report include:

  • Local governments have failed to make more than nominal investments into health care and education
  • At the same time, the governor of Rivers budgeted tens of millions of dollars that year alone on questionable priorities like foreign travel, “gifts” and “souvenirs” to unspecified recipients, and the purchase of jet aircraft and fleets of new cars for his office
  • Part of the reason these problems have not been addressed is that nearly eight years after the end of military rule, the people of Rivers State still have no way of holding their local officials accountable for their actions.

    Human Rights Watch urges all levels of government in Nigeria to enact without delay key reforms to make state and local governments more transparent and accountable to the public. Their detailed report gives clear recommendations for a number of different stakeholders. Recommendations include:

    • The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should enact and sign into law the Freedom of Information, Fiscal Responsibility and Public Audit and Accountability bills without delay
    • The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission should be more proactive in launching and following through on criminal investigations into credible allegations of corruption
    • The Government of Rivers State should increase budgetary expenditures for health and education so as to progressively realise these basic rights
    • Foreign governments and donor agencies should prioritise programmes to improve good governance and transparency of state and local governments in Nigeria
    • Foreign companies operating in the Niger Delta should publish and ensure wide public dissemination of regular and detailed accountings of all development, social and humanitarian expenditures undertaken by the company in the Niger Delta in order to differentiate private from public funding, and make government expenditures more transparent.
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