For over a year, Siemens AG, the venerated German conglomerate, has been the subject of many intertwined investigations in various parts of Western Europe and America. The tactics used by this company to obtain contracts came into question when it was discovered that the company had a multi-million dollar "slush fund" of almost $256 million. The resulting scrutiny has led to various arrests in Europe, a case against a Siemens 'conspirator' in America, and apparently, a probe by Nigeria's ICPC into handsome bribes totaling 10 million Euros that were allegedly paid to high ranking Nigerians in order to obtain lucrative government contracts.
YARDY GOT THE MEMO...
Let me start off by congratulating Yardy for taking an unequivocal stand on the potential Siemens-Nigeria corruption connection. Yardy "ordered" the ICPC to investigate the allegations and take decisive action. In a released statement, he stressed,
"in this Siemens scandal, as in all cases that border on good governance and transparency, there will neither be sacred cows nor a cover up for anybody found culpable of breaching the law".It looks like someone sent Yardy the memo! Unlike in the Etteh scandal where he, rightly or wrongly, called for due process and the rule of law to resolve the situation, here, he came out against corruption and demanded that the necessary authorities carry out their duties. ICPC has gone on to begin its investigation and has invited the indicted Nigerians to appear before the Commission.
CHANGING ATTITUDE TOWARDS CORRUPTION
But what does this brewing scandal say about the state of affairs in Nigeria? I believe it says something incredibly positive - Nigerians are beginning to attack corruption. It is refreshing that we have scandals of this nature at all - Nigeria is a country where incredible things have been swept under the carpet. That a Speaker of the House of representatives would resign in scandal and then, that various former Ministers, a Senator and other well-connected Nigerians are being paraded in the local and foreign press for illegal activity, heralds a new day in Nigeria. I like to think that as long as the nation continues to trudge towards the creation of stronger democratic institutions and the enforcement of current laws, Nigeria and its citizens will have a concrete opportunity to transform the nation. That is as long as a few people, those that benefit from the current system, do not succeed in jeopardizing the ongoing transformation.
INTERNATIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF SIEMENS SCANDAL
This scandal also has some relevant international implications. For years, Nigeria has consistently been listed as a corrupt nation without taking into account the various international organizations and institutions that either contribute or cause the system of corruption Nigeria faces. The fact that Siemens and its top executives are suffering serious consequences for their corrupt practices spotlights the complicity of foreigners in the dirty deed. This scandal will hopefully deter wealthy institutions from contributing to the many schemes that are created to lace the pockets of crooked officials.
But, back to Nigeria, I wonder if ICPC will be able to handle the workload it will surely acquire. In fact, ICPC has just received "fresh facts" from German authorities that further implicate the indicted Nigerians. Things will continue to get interesting. And in case you were wondering what is happening with Etteh - she has been summoned by ICPC to answer questions about the N628 million contract that led to her shameful resignation. We will all be watching ICPC very closely. It has a lot of work ahead...