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Reforming the Unreformable: Lessons from Nigeria Hardcover – September 21, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This insider's account of the valiant attempt to reform Nigeria's economy will inspire anyone committed to changing the course of their country.

(Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences, 2001)

This extremely informative and thought-provoking book provides a masterful account of the interplay of technical economic management and political will constrained by vested interest in undertaking transformative reforms in developing countries. Every page speaks to the Liberian experience in microcosm. This will be required reading by the Cabinet and students in our institutions of higher learning. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala remains a courageous champion for sound economic management and performance.

(Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia)

An important book which incisively reveals what the real barriers to development are, and the political constraints to removing them. Inspiring and compulsory reading for development scholars and practitioners.

(James Robinson, David Florence Professor of Government, Harvard University)

Just as Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala forces open budget processes, these pages force open our eyes to the complexities of political life in Nigeria. Throughout her incarnations as the corruption cop, finance minister, tough decision maker, and managing director she has been and remains a great friend and an inspiring mentor. This is an essential guidebook for reformers everywhere.

(Bono)

About the Author

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is Nigeria's Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance. From 2007 to 2011 she was Managing Director of the World Bank, overseeing activities in South Asia, Europe, Central Asia, and Africa.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262018144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262018142
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,277,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a quick and very engaging read. Minister Okonjo-Iweala does a great job in the painting a comprehensive picture of how Nigeria's government and society had broken down. In the book, you learn how even the most basic of governmental functions, like creating and maintaining a consistent budget, was not being done.

Before reading the book, I was aware of the many government abuses and corrupt practices that took place in Nigeria, but Minister Okonjo-Iweala outlined these abusive practices with stories and numbers in such a way that I came away with a greater appreciation for what and how it was being done. Her description of methods that dictators and government officials used to line their pockets was beautiful in its simplicity. After reading the book I understood the way in which Nigeria's state, local and Federal governments function and the obstacles presented on that structure by the very constitution on which it is built. I also learned how Nigeria's debt came into being and how it was allowed to spiral out of control. Later I was made privy to the determined, and later, the intense and frenetic actions that led to the second largest debt forgiveness by the Paris Club.

Yet, considering the breadth of reforms Minster Okonjo-Iweala and her team took on with their homegrown National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), I was extremely surprised by the level of success that her team achieved. Understanding, how difficult it is to bring about change in any society, let alone a democratic society where the elite has a real interest in maintaining the status quo, I kept wanting to get a more detailed account of the difficulties that were encountered by the Minister's economic team if only to set expectations for future reformers.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a must-read for anyone serious about public sector reform in Nigeria. It provides a view into the challenges of reforming an economy that has forgotten the proper way to do anything. It does not sugar-coat the challenges but shows that with determination and a clear vision even the nonredeemable can still be saved. Thank you, NOI.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A good book, written more as an insider information of the great effort she (Dr. Ngozi) put in to make Nigeria a country she could/would be proud to call her home country, amidst chronic corruption.

I want to wish her the best of luck, she will need it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Okonjo-Iweala writes spare, straightforward prose about an extraordinary undertaking: reduction of corruption in a country internationally famous for it. And that's just one of her challenges. She also has to stabilize an economy dependent on volatile oil prices; develop a persuasive argument for the cancellation of foreign debt; and keep her job.

A great deal of the book is technocratic. There are few accounts of dramatic meetings or personal confrontations; heavy on the policy choices. However -- her biggest challenge is corruption. And corruption always has a beneficiary. Nigeria's larcenous class fought hard. Okonjo-Iweala does mention the political side: seeking support from the people of Nigeria and from the elected President. And she frankly acknowledges the role of politics in supporting or hindering reform.

One of the worst problems is that previous generations of international loans went to kleptocratic rulers who simply stole much of it, leaving the current government with a very difficult debt problem and little popular support for paying off the old loans or ever borrowing any more money.

The author focuses the entire book on her experiences in Nigeria. However, a great deal of the problems and solutions are universal. If your government has borrowed money that it can't pay back -- if your public payroll is bloated by decades of sweetheart deals -- if a business person can't get a loan, or can't get the permits they need, without political juice -- then you've got the same problems. May your President and your Finance Minister read this book, and may you hold them accountable for honest government.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Straight to the point and very clear eyed about her successes and failures regarding reform attempts. Also good read because its good to hear her story from her own voice instead of the infinite rumors about her tenure as finance minister
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