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Foreign Bribery or Corporate Social Responsibility?

By on April 5, 2012

The Italian construction company must really be in love with Mr President. Otherwise, why would they offer and why would Mr President accept a gift of a ‘whole’ church building donated to him in his personal capacity. This is happening at a time when nations are tightening Anti-Bribery Laws and when statistics have shown corruption accounts for 5% of the World’s GDP.


Was it in ignorance, or is the President exempted from the provisions of the laws on anti-bribery in Nigeria. Transparency International and other like-minded organisations have shown that over 1trillion dollars is paid in bribes annually by people transacting business in other countries.


Nations are no longer smiling with bribe payers or takers even where the bribery was committed in another country. Serious minded Nations have realised the productive uses to which these sums of money could be put. Serious minded Nations have clamped down on foreign bribery. Why then would the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria accept a gift of a “church building” something that cannot even be hidden or denied.


In 2010, several people were charged in the Siemens trial in Nigeria for being “public servants and receiving a valuable thing without consideration.” Your guess is as good as mine. Is the President a Public Servant or not? In receiving a gift of this “church” has he received a valuable thing without consideration or not? The elaborately drafted charged in 2010 classified the giving or receiving of a valuable thing without consideration as an offence under Section 96(1) of the Penal Code and Punishable under Section 120 of the Penal Code.


Let’s assume there is nothing wrong with the receipt of this valuable thing without consideration. After all, he is the President of Nigeria. But the Managing Director made him a promise to build and donate the church to his community after he complained of the aging structure of his church.


At this my head begins to calculate. Is the Church of Mr President the only aging thing in Nigeria? If for a minute we deem it perfectly okay for Mr President to receive a valuable thing without consideration, then can Mr President be a little selfless and please complain about the dilapidated school buildings and broken down hospitals, death trap roads and drainage systems and bridges all of which are crying for repairs.


For all intents and purposes, the construction company qualifies as a bribe giver in the face of the numerous contracts being sought from the Nigerian Government or maybe not. Maybe this construction company simply feels like spending so much money erecting a 2500-seat church in the president’s town for free because they love his town.


In a new twist, the President’s office described the gift as a Corporate Social Responsibility of the Italian Company. Corporate Social Responsibility how? Are they Nigerian tax payers? or are they regulated by the Companies and Allied Matters Act.


On second thought I’m tempted to agree with the President and his team. This was not a bribe at all, absolutely not. It was a gift from the Italians to say “thank you for all the numerous contracts you have given us.” At least that is how it is perceived in the President’s camp. To the Italians however it is a gift to say, “We have some proposals/bids coming your way soon. When you see our name, please remember the church we built in your town.”


But seriously, is the President’s camp convinced this is not a bribe because I’ve got news for them. A bribe is never called a “bribe”. Even the policemen on the street do not ask for a “bribe”. The Italians would definitely not name the church a “bribe”. It was a “gift”. A valuable thing received by the President without consideration.


I honestly have no problem with the church being classified as a Corporate Social Responsibility. I think citizens simply request that if the Church will be conclusively regarded as a CSR initiative, the nation owes an apology to the Nigerians who had their hospital bills and air tickets paid by Siemens and are being prosecuted in Nigerian courts. After all, that was only a CSR initiative of Siemens.


It might interest Mr President’s team of special advisers to know that in Italy, giving a bribe outside Italy is an offence under the Italy Criminal Code. Should this case be taken up by the Italian Government, the Italians involved face pecuniary sanctions of up to approximately €1,200,000, Disqualifying penalties, and Publication of the judgment where applicable.


So again I ask. Is Mr President even aware that Nigeria is a member of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, a convention which encourages all member states to criminalize the offer or giving of an undue advantage to a national or international public official? Is Mr President ignorant of the law, Or is Mr President simply a Sacred Cow who cannot be bothered about the message his actions send to the international community?


Mr President may have had good intentions. But he cannot prove that the Italian Company had no ulterior motives.


  1. Deri

    April 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    was it ok for shell to provide arms to the nigerian police to kill ppl in ogoni? was it ok for shell to supply choppers to the nigerian air force to bomb villagers and militants in the niger delta–is it ok for julius berger to build houses for ibbb and obj? if it was ok for shell to assist kill kensarowiwa, buy guns for the police in 9ja, why is it wrong for a firm to renovate a church for the anglican communion in nigeria

  2. Clinton

    April 5, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    it is never a bribe, it is the company SR to the community

  3. guest

    April 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I think the President should have dis-associated himself with the gift. 

  4. Anonymous

    April 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    Deri you miss the point. It’s not about the church, it’s not about the Anglican communion, it’s about the President. if the headlines read that the church was donated to the Anglican communion I don’t think anybody will be asking questions.

  5. Neborhud

    April 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    My dear People of 9ja n especially d press! Must we politicize everything?
    What are we even talking about here, like people with no good sense of reasoning and judgement. Would we prefer this said Italian company building a residential house for GEJ to a community church? It is absolutely  commendable that a siting president begs a construction firm in his own country to help renovate or build the house of God in his own community for all and sundry to worship there. Had GEJ used tax payers’ money for same purpose, he would be culpable ; but for this one, let us discharge n acquit GEJ. Wish all good minded 9ja people boko haram free Easter in Jesus’ name. AMEN!!