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Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines

Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines

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Publication Date: December 8th, 2020
The MIT Press
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A frontline account of how to fight corruption, from Nigeria's former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

In Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has written a primer for those working to root out corruption and disrupt vested interests. Drawing on her experience as Nigeria's finance minister and that of her team, she describes dangers, pitfalls, and successes in fighting corruption. She provides practical lessons learned and tells how anti-corruption advocates need to equip themselves. Okonjo-Iweala details the numerous ways in which corruption can divert resources away from development, rewarding the unscrupulous and depriving poor people of services.

Okonjo-Iweala discovered just how dangerous fighting corruption could be when her 83-year-old mother was kidnapped in 2012 by forces who objected to some of the government's efforts at reforms led by Okonjo-Iweala—in particular a crackdown on fraudulent claims for oil subsidy payments, a huge drain on the country's finances. The kidnappers' first demand was that Okonjo-Iweala resign from her position on live television and leave the country. Okonjo-Iweala did not resign, her mother escaped, and the program of economic reforms continued. “Telling my story is risky,” Okonjo-Iweala writes. “But not telling it is also dangerous.” Her book ultimately leaves us with hope, showing that victories are possible in the fight against corruption.

About the Author

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was Nigeria's Minister of Finance from 2003 to 2006 and from 2011 to 2015, and Foreign Minister in 2006. She was Managing Director of the World Bank from 2007 to 2011, overseeing South Asia, Europe, Central Asia, and Africa, and is currently Senior Adviser at Lazard and Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Chair of the African Risk Capacity (ARC). She is the author of Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria (MIT Press) and coauthor of Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons. She is the author of Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria (MIT Press).

Praise for Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines

"Fearless, principled, compassionate for Africa’s poor and passionate for Africa’s future — Okonjo-Iweala’s book tells us what politics and public service should be about." – Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education

"Brave declarations and indignant statements about fighting corruption are what we are used to hearing from well-meaning people in politics or business. How difficult and sometimes dangerous it is to fight corruption is not always appreciated. Okonjo-Iweala is a lioness on the hunt who writes eloquently to tell us the story from the front lines." – Mo Ibrahim, Philanthropist and Businessman; Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

"A remarkable book by a truly outstanding human being. Okonjo-Iweala is not only a fine economist but also a charismatic leader. Good governance is a key element in fostering successful economic development, and corruption is deeply corrosive of governance. These reflections on fighting corruption are not only a gripping and moving personal story of stress and courage but a deeply thoughtful and constructive analysis of a fundamental aspect of economic development." – Lord Nicholas Stern, I. G. Patel Professor of Economics and Government, London School of Economics; past President of the British Academy; Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change; author of Why Are We Waiting?