Nigerian scholar and political anthropologist, Wale Adebanwi, Friday, put the story of Nigeria’s challenge with corruption back on the new year’s national agenda when his book, Authority Stealing: Anti-Corruption War and Democratic Politics in Post-Military Nigeria was picked by Foreign Affairs, a leading global journal on foreign policy and global affairs, as one of the best three books from Africa in the past year. [Download some pages of the book here:]

A Nigerian edition of the book was published as A Paradise for Maggots: The Story of a Nigerian Anti-Corruption Czar, in 2011.

Foreign Affairs assesses that in Adebanwi’s book “Readers will be rewarded with a thorough education in the personalities, practices, and political culture that allow billions of dollars of Nigerian state revenues to disappear every year.”

Mr. Adebanwi, an associate professor in African American and African Studies, at the University of California, Davis, United States, holds two doctorates, one in political science from the University of Ibadan and another from the University of Cambridge in social anthropology.

The book, according to the journal, “ranges broadly across recent Nigerian history, [and that] its central purpose is to assess postcolonial Nigeria’s most serious campaign to eradicate large-scale corruption. In 2003, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Nuhu Ribadu as chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, a position he would retain until 2008, when Obasanjo’s successor, Umaru Yar’Adua, removed him.”

In an interview Friday, the scholar minimised the honour, tersely saying “very flattering,” and bouncing the honour to the subject of the book. “It speaks more to the value of what Nuhu Ribadu was able to accomplish at the EFCC despite intimidating challenges than to my own effort to document the process.”

Mr. Adebanwi’s book shares a place on the pick list with External Mission: The ANC in Exile, 1960–1990 By Stephen Ellis which paints “a fascinating history of the internal politics of the African National Congress (ANC) in the 30 years during which it was banned in South Africa and was forced to operate from bases outside the country,” and Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do About It, by Morten Jerven, which “demonstrates with devastating clarity that African governments produce imprecise economic statistics that should not be trusted.”

Cambridge University Press will publish Mr. Adebanwi’s latest book, Yoruba Elites and Ethnic Politics in Nigeria: Obafemi Awolowo and Corporate Agency in an African Lifeworld in March 2014.

Mr. Adebanwi who started his career as a news reporter before switching to the academia, has won honours around the world including the Bill and Melinda Gates Scholarship, UK, MacArthur Foundation (US) Grant, Social Science Research Council, New York Fellowship, Claude Ake Memorial Scholarship, Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio, Italy, Fellowship and Rhodes Senior Scholarship, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. In May 2013, he gave the prestigious Oxford University African Studies Centre Annual Lecture.

He has served on the editorial board of the  Nigerian Tribune and is a contributing editor of TheNEWS magazine.

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