African minister took cut of oil contracts
In an unusually frank admission about the mechanics of business in oil-rich West Africa, a top Equatorial Guinean official has said that companies owned by ministers often bid for government contracts with foreign groups and, if successful, receive “a percentage of the total contract the company gets”.
Teodorin Nguema Obiang, the 37-year-old son and likely successor of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, made the statement in a sworn affidavit to Cape Town’s High Court, where his lawyers will today oppose the seizure of two luxury houses he owns in the city. Equatorial Guinea is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest oil producer.
However, in an extraordinary admission in his affidavit, the president’s son testified that ministers and public servants in Equatorial Guinea were allowed to own companies bidding for government contracts with foreign groups which, if successful, would receive “a percentage of the total contract the company gets”.
This, he told the court, “means that a cabinet minister ends up with a sizeable part of the contract price in his bank account”.
Non-governmental groups campaigning against corruption in the oil industry have long contended that officials in Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Congo-Brazzaville, and other oil-rich West African states have made untold sums by profiting from foreign business contracts, often in contravention of local laws.
However, statements to that effect by African officials themselves are rare.
And of course its not limited to just Guinea...
Nigeria’s Faltering Federal Experiment
Nigeria’s federal system and politics are deeply flawed, contributing to rising violence that threatens to destabilise one of Africa’s leading countries. Failing to encourage genuine power sharing, they have sparked dangerous rivalries between the centre and the 36 states over revenue from the country’s oil and other natural resources; promoted no-holds-barred struggles between interests groups to capture the state and its attendant wealth; and facilitated the emergence of violent ethnic militias, while politicians play on and exacerbate inter-communal tensions to cover up their corruption. The government has been quick to brand many of the symptoms, especially the rise of militancy, as simple criminality to be dealt with by more police and more troops. But unless it engages with the underlying issues of resource control, equal rights, power sharing and accountability, Nigeria will face an internal crisis of increasing proportions.
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