Africa’s most populous nation has just achieved something very important.  This week Nigeria’s voters handed a landslide victory to former president, Muhammadu Buhari. 

Equally impressive, the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, became the first Nigerian leader in 55 years to democratically  cede power to his rival. 

President-elect Buhari, a dour, ascetic, unsmiling former general, proclaimed his primary goal is to attack all-pervasive corruption and crush the Boko Haram uprising in the north.   Interestingly, Buhari, a Muslim, received substantial support in the Christian south in this normally religiously-divided nation of 177 million.

Nigeria is one of the world’s most corrupt nations.  The rating site Transparency International puts it 144 out of 177 most corrupt nations,  just ahead of DR Congo and Haiti.  But I disagree. I think Nigeria may be the most corrupt nation in Africa and likely on earth.

Since independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria has received over $400 billion in aid from Europe and the US, six times the post-WWII Marshall Plan that helped rebuild western Europe.

Nearly all of it was stolen.

An estimated $380 billion of government funds was stolen since independence, according to a recent finance minister.  Most of this money ended up in Swiss Banks and London real estate.  A former military dictator, Sani Abacha, is estimated to have stolen $4 billion during the 1990’s before dying in bed of a heart attack after romping with two Indian prostitutes.

In Nigeria, corruption infuses every aspect of daily life in a nation where the average per capita income is under $2.  Everything runs on “dash,” as payoffs are known.   

Nigeria had become infamous around the globe as the source of torrents of fraudulent emails offering millions in riches to the unwary.  Amazingly,  Nigerian fraudsters seem to have raked in over $130 million this way, showing that greed, like sex, numbs common sense.