Robert Tagorda says that Nigeria’s Finance Minister intends to crack down on corruption with a fresh advertising campaign to deter people.

That reminds me of the Impromptus I quoted below. Jay Nordlinger writes about both the Nigerian President and John Ashcroft at Davos. On the Nigerian President, Jay writes:

He says that when the Western press does focus on Nigeria, it tends to stress corruption and religious violence, and “this perpetuates stereotypes about my country.” Of course, “If you think of us for corruption and religious violence, you just may be right.”

That’s what I treasure about Obasanjo. You don’t hear that kind of talk from just any African leader, or from any leader anywhere.

He maintains that Nigeria has made great strides against corruption, with former ministers — governmental ministers, that is — and judges being prosecuted every day. A reckoning has occurred in Nigeria, a reckoning that would brighten a continent, if it spread.

Obasanjo is big on streamlining, debureaucratizing, making more efficient. He asks, for example, why a company can’t be incorporated — simply incorporated — within 48 hours. Can’t you just determine whether there exists another company of the same name, and get on with it?

But what I found far more interesting was the information on Ashcroft’s speech. Part of what I referenced is here But, on the issue of advertising and how it might be effective, there is this bit from Ashcroft:

Success against corruption requires three things, he states. First, a moral foundation — very Ashcroftian. The AG quotes a Kenyan official who said that, more than anything, it’s corruption that keeps the people “poor and backward.”

Second, Ashcroft maintains that corruption is now “transnational,” necessitating “a worldwide effort.” He is not in favor of “world law” — heaven forfend. But he does insist on “aggressive cooperation.”

And third, information. Simple information, he says — mere information — is a powerful enemy of corruption. He cites a striking example from Uganda: Only 28 percent of the money was getting to the schools for which it was designated. Then the government had the bright idea of publishing, in the local papers, the amount of money allocated to each school. Miraculously, the amounts actually reaching the schools climbed to 90 percent. So the mere publication of information caused the money for schools to triple.

“And to think there’s another 10 percent to be added!” exclaims Ashcroft.

I hate to sound tritely liberal, but information does empower people.