Peter Odili And Abubakar Atiku Featured In US Higher Education's Dirty Little Secret-Huffington Post

Peter Odili
By Arvind Ganesan

Libya's human rights crisis shined a much-needed spotlight on the relationship between universities and their more problematic funders. In this case, the London School of Economics (LSE) agreed to take about $2.4 million from the foundation controlled by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, a son of the Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi.

LSE is not alone. American University in Washington agreed to help a former Nigerian vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, and his wife, Jennifer Douglas, set up a university in Nigeria, despite persistent allegations of corruption against him. In return, American University received about $14 million in "consulting fees" between 2003 and 2007 for its work on this project. American University officials told U.S. Senate investigators that their due diligence on Abubakar uncovered some rumors of corruption, but they ultimately decided to proceed.

Later, the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed that Ms. Douglas received about $2 million in bribes from Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, on behalf of her husband. Siemens paid a record $1.6 billion fine since this was part of a global bribery scandal, but the Abubakars were both abroad and outside U.S. jurisdiction.

Another case in point is Lincoln University, the oldest historically black college in the United States, which has an interesting relationship with Peter Odili, governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Rivers State from 1999 to 2007.

Human Rights Watch documented how Odili's administration, with a budget of about $1.3 billion in 2006, provided little money for primary schools or other basic services that state and local governments are supposed to provide. Instead, Odili channeled enormous sums directly to the governor's office -- tens of millions of dollars earmarked for entertainment, gifts, and the purchase of jet aircraft. Travel must have been important since he also allocated $65,000 a day to his office for travel and transportation. We concluded that a huge portion of the state's funds were lost to extravagance, waste and corruption.

In contrast to primary schools in Rivers State, Lincoln benefited greatly from Odili's generosity. By the end of 2006, he had become one of the school's largest donors, with at least $1.64 million in donations. During that year, it gave him an honorary degree, held a luncheon in his honor, and named a building after him.

Nigeria's federal anticorruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, says it has a strong enough case to prosecute Odili. But in 2007 Odili somehow managed to secure an outrageous court injunction -- widely condemned as a mockery of the judicial process -- that permanently barred the agency from investigating, let alone prosecuting him.

A year later, though, the commission said it had completed its investigation into Odili's "wanton looting of the treasury of Rivers State" and was ready to arraign him on corruption charges. The judge reaffirmed his injunction and nothing has happened since. In April 2008, Odili began a four-year term on Lincoln's Board of Trustees.

In the London School of Economics case, the donations from Gaddafi's son came in 2008, a year after the school awarded him a Phd. The university had also agreed to accept about $3 million in other donations from Libya. This scandal cost Sir Howard Davies his job as director of the university. The school disclosed that it had received about $500,000 from Saif's pledge that it would use for scholarships. It also said it will no longer accept Libyan funds, inevitable anyway since the British government had frozen any U.K.-based assets that belonged to Gaddafi and his family a few days earlier.

Universities are undoubtedly under pressure to find financial support and to maintain high standards, especially as government funding becomes scarcer. But that does not mean they should allow abusive and corrupt officials or their families to launder their images in exchange for money.

There should be better rules to keep this from happening. After all, the London School of Economics did not act until Saif's father literally began to kill his own people in a brutal attempt to cling to power. American and Lincoln universities have not fully explained their relationships with Abubakar or Odili. And schools in the U.S. have no legal obligation to investigate whether funds they might take are tainted by corruption.

One modest step would be to make universities investigate whether donors are implicated in abuses or corruption before accepting their money. If they do decide to go ahead, those donations should be disclosed and the information easily accessible to the public. There may be good reasons to keep some donations anonymous, but that rule should not apply to money from rulers or their family members who are implicated in abuses or pose a risk for corruption. Those relationships cannot be good for a school's reputation -- as the London School of Economics just learned.

Fortunately, governments can step in to ensure that schools are more transparent. Last November, the G-20 group of governments announced an anti-corruption initiative that includes a commitment to prevent corrupt officials from spending their funds abroad. They should include enhanced due diligence for universities as part of their efforts. That might give officials an incentive to spend money on their country's schools instead of using that money to get a building named after them abroad.

Arvind Ganesan is director of the business and human rights program for Human Rights Watch.


62 comment(s)
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When government funding

When government funding becomes scarcer, a school is often forced to look for money somewhere else. But this is like trying to get good grades while working, it doesn't work unless your job is easy and safe, at the same time. I'm sure this University could have found funding partners somewhere else.

We've come to the wrong world

We've come to the wrong world if education supports and promotes the deceit. What will our children think about ourselves and this world? I've spoken with my friends and we all decided to take our online healthcare degrees instead of doing it the old way.

I wonder if he felt guilt

I wonder if he felt guilt about what he had done and decided to build a school to wash his sins, just like some old voivodes did when they built churches. I wouldn't want to become a registered nurse knowing I've learned in a school where honesty isn't appreciated.

odilli and Atiku

The names sounds like RAW CRIMINALS!!

Donna, it is 'comment' on

Donna, it is 'comment' on issues not 'commit' that you said. Please re-educate yourself before judgeing others!

they are not to be blem.......

i don't think this ppl should be blemed ...the ppl in question are those that gives them the right to contest.....

Donna and all

Guess Donna has a right to say what she feels like but needs to understand that restraint is a virtue not an act of cowardice. We'll get better, the awareness that things are wrong is what we need to start the attempt to get it right

Donna and all

Guess Donna has a right to say what she feels like bSut needs to understand that restraint is a virtue not an act of cowardice. We'll get better, the awareness that things are wrong is what we need to start the attempt to get it right

@Donna's comment

@Donna, you need not announce your withdrawal from the SR blog, as we never received an announcement from you when you first joined the blog. In any case, you are uneducated. An educated person is not boastful of his/her level of education. From your statement, I doubt if you are a Nigerian, and if you are, you are an accident of birth to a Nigerian parent(s), shame unto you. Carrying an American Greencard, or citizenship is nothing, but rather an economic convenience. We are proud Nigerians expressing ourselves on the SR blog. Our democratic expressions allow us to express our selves in our cultural praxis of interpersonal communication, and this can be made in our native language, or the national linguafranca (pidgin 'English'), not nonsense English, as we only use the latter for economic discourse to survive in the diaspora. To hell with you Donna, you are rude, and ignorant to our ways, as Nigerians. Indeed, the earlier you quit the SR blog, the better, as many are struggling to join the SR discourse. Donna, you are good riddance to bad rubbish, be gone, and forever remain silent!!!


Just imagine the Governor of the state of Texas donating 1.4 million dollars to the University of Lagos from the coffers of the state. That will be like a man biting a dog!

Dr Peter Odili swallowed a whole dog!!!


Sistah Donna (Kebab) ... the educated and knowledgeable one ... who has failed to make her point whilst making no point .... what indded is your point ? ( that's if you know what your point is in the first place ... )

@Deri, Those who live in glass houses....

@Deri, 'But in Nigeria, where even goats with human voice can vie for presidential elections, anything can happen. Provided the goat can afford to spend money to settle the press.
Well spoken!

Who fills this qualification the most?

Who has been bribing all over the place, even giving Bakare some change for Kola nut or is transport money?

Of all the Presidential candidates, Who has been spending the most money daily on campaigning?

You tend to avoid the subject and thrash around you know.

What is your take on Odili as a SOUTH SOUTH MAN with this type of behaviour?
What is your take on Patience being caught with the $13 Million dollars in London?
Then, you can tell us that Ribadu is also speaking from both sides of his mouth about Tinubu and Patience.

Those who live in glass houses....

If does not matter if

If does not matter if Goodluck, Ribadu or Buhari wins the (s)election. The status quo will be protected all thesame, because they all came from thesame establishment. Non of them is the saviour. Nigerians shine your eyes.

@Deri, Those who live in glass houses...

@Deri 'But in Nigeria, where even goats with human voice can vie for presidential elections, anything can happen. Provided the goat can afford to spend money to settle the press.'

Who fills this qualification most?
Who is spending the most money right now?
Who is bribing the press the most?

Those who live in glass houses...

@Donna, Re : I hate this blog and the readers too!

@Donna Thank you.
I will not waste my time (and education) reading this website or indeed, Nigerian newspapers- the journalists are apparently as poorly educated as their readers. A waste of time really debating on this site with a bunch of uneducated people.

You are such a brilliant 'lady' to insult the collective intelligence of the bloggers on this site. If you reply, you are against your word. If you read this and not reply, you are a liar. If you do not read or see this reply, then I have the last word! Of course, I KNOW you can come back in a different name!

Are Nigerians unintelligent to be marrooned with these greedy Politicians all these years and not able to do something about it? No. What can they do against the Mafia of the corrupted of this earth? Options are, they can take up guns and fight, vote differently if they are allowed to, or fight by alerting and inform the people as to who has brought them to this pathetic situation, until the right moment for action in Nigeria.

Really intelligent people do not say it. They are identified by others as they succeed in most things they set their minds to learn or do.

You cannot be as intelligent as you claim or else you would have seen that our troubles is not because of the illogical thinking of bloggers on this site or due to their poor education (why not, given the poor quality of our schools), but due to the irresponsibilities of those who took over our lives as 'leaders' to plunder, rape and desecrate our institutions; thereby stultifying our growth and development. Goodbye.

our main man, Sani Mamman

well said, Sani. Nothing more to add about PDP.

What did DERI say that people

What did DERI say that people are carrying? It only shows our country is dying.

Leave Atiku Out Of It.

Bringing Atiku Abubakar’s name into this Higher Education’s Dirty Little Secret revelations is totally mischievous and uncalled for. While Peter Odili and Saif Al-Islam donated money in return for Board of Trustee slots, honorary degrees, having buildings named after them and so on, Atiku merely paid for consultancy services to build an American standard University in Nigeria. His institution undoubtedly contributes positively to the provision of high grade education in Nigeria. However the article claimed that these leaders donated heavy cash to support education abroad while the same institution suffers back home. Moreover, not a single allegation of corruption on Atiku was ever corroborated, confirmed on proven in any law court at home or abroad, not even in the US. Atiku is not to blame for a US Senate investigation that failed to find out that he was an established multi-millionaire in dollars before he became vice president. Googling one of his businesses (Intels Nigeria Limited) established in 1982 will reveal that the outfit operates beyond Nigerian shores and had been prosperous way before 2000 while employing over ten thousand workers in the Niger Delta area alone. The same Senate Report confirmed that the Atiku money transfers came from offshore corporations that were verified to be his blind trust agents after he became VP and could not directly run his businesses. The earlier we all realize that he is not the devil they want us to believe he is, the better for Nigeria and its nascent democracy. Atiku will end their looting bonanza and they know it. So they’ll do anything to keep him from becoming president. Now, Jonathan surrounded by OBJ, Anenih and highly corrupt governors and other leaders may be handling our affairs for the next four years at least. More grease to our elbows.


OBJ is the greatest mistake that have happen to Nigeria, Nigeria is gradually graduating into a well politically organized nation where people without vision for the country cannot smell even the smallest seat like councilor let alone the apex position of president. Campaign of calumny only keep Atiku more popular, this is not what we need now.

Americans - Hypocrites

The Americans are greatest hypocrites surviving on the surface of the earth. The voice you hear is different from the visual you see!

my people

Has anyone ever seen anybody as foolish as Deri the IDIOT 4rm wherever he comes 4rm. This Deri will die a hopless man; mark my word!

Another jobless moronic scam here - somebody call this idiot

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Leave Atiku alone

Why bringing Atiku into this, Atiku is a successful wealthy business person, he can afford to consult and hire whoever he wills at any point in time. Atiku has been rich before he became the VP, this same Atiku work very hard to establish the EFCC to check corruption. For selfish reasons, OBJ painted Atiku bad but God vindicated him by granting him victories in all the law suits to clear his person of any miss deeds. Atiku remains our symbol of democracy. The writer should please leave Atiku alone and look else where.


I am appalled at the extent to which most Nigerians can be foolish,how can pple be so stupid,we shamelessly buy the lame duck excuse by the very corrupt EFCC on a perpetual injunction granted to Odili but was this injunction gotten from mars?if its from courts in Nigeria,are there no superior courts where this injunction can be challenged/overturned?the truth is that there's no fight against corruption,what we see is all politically motivated silly moves by efcc,did we not read last time that the hse of reps were investigating how the money alledged gotten from former IG Tafa Balogun was relooted?lets leave Odili alone,he's a just generous man who commits funds to what he believes in,i will not hold forte for him anyway,he may not be incorruptible but i'm certain he not more corrupt than the president and others.

Donna,morning, you sabi

Donna,morning, you sabi oyibo, but you for check your grammer small. I sure say nobody day read website,rather na the content of the website,right? Also na comment not commit. Freedom to express na him be the rule. Wake up.

@ Sani

Brilliant wrap-up.
Nothing more needs to be said.

Na wa!

Sahara na wa. I tire for these revelations but na so we see am.
MEND get every reason to strike as dem like o jare.

Frank Sampson, you talk true no be small. E get as Rotimi fit rake reach before hin and hin fomer oga's share room for Kuje after all hin sef follow for the chopping and gun supplies to finish Okrika people just because dem wan disgrace and beat Ada George. Now Abiye say Rotimi don get N989 billion since hin start work as governor 3 years ago.

More wind go blow make we see wetin dey under turkey yash.

God dey na poor man prayer.

Obasanjo is the worst robber

The former dictator, Obasanjo, is by far the worst armed robber in the history of Nigeria. This scoundrel used his position as tyrant to systematically loot the Nigerian treasury. The funds this criminal stole have been used to build his so-called Ota farms and a university, not to mention feeding the old man's lust for prostitutes and kith and kin. While the ogre was looting the nation, Nigerian universities and schools were starved of much needed money. The old PDP bufoon must be arrested and tried. Nigerians will vote out the PDP thieves in the April elections.


Lincoln University
Board of Trustees
2010- 2011
Bishop David G. Evans '73 - Chair
Honorable Levan Gordon '58 - Vice Chair
Honorable Ruth E. Smith '81 - Secretary
Ms. Tehma H. Smith '00 - Parliamentarian
Honorable Tom Corbett, Governor
Honorable Ronald J. Tomalis, Acting Secretary of Education
Dr. Ivory V. Nelson, President
Mr. Doyle Beneby
Mr. Warren R. Colbert, Sr. '68
Mr. Lester N. Coney
Rev. Charles A. Coverdale '65
Ms. Andrea L. Custis
Ms. Terri Dean
Mr. Carl E. Dickerson '60
Ms. Tammy Evans-Colquitt
Leonard Hill, Esq.
Mr. Gary A. Michelson '66
Dr. Donald L. Mullett '51
Mr. Donald C. Notice '79
Dr. Peter Odili
Ajay Raju, Esq.
Mr. Dwight S. Taylor '68

I hate this blog and the readers too

I really hate this blog and this is the last time I will be visiting it- not only are some of its articles poorly written and tantamount to libel; they are also unreliable. Additionally, I find readers here on this blog commit on issues they neither know about nor understand- take this particular article for instance- it is about how some Western universities have received funding from corrupt sources but the readers are too stupid to note this as they are committing on something entirely different. Well, as I have written, I will not waste my time (and education) reading this website or indeed, Nigerian newspapers- the journalists are apparently as poorly educated as their readers. A waste of time really debating on this site with a bunch of uneducated people.

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