Between the politicians and the rich, there is considerable overlap. Running a political campaign is extraordinarily expensive in Nigeria, and many a senator is heard complaining, in private, about how much money is needed to buy a seat.
Each regime has tended to throw up a set of entrepreneurs whose main skill set is colluding with civil servants to fix prices in a particular market. This is most obvious in the oil sector, where swap deals and shell companies have spirited away trillions of naira over the past few decades, but the phenomenon exists for other commodities, too.
Beyond the cabal of professional siphoners, there exists a business class more interested in making money than stealing it. The explosion of the mobile phone business proved that Nigeria’s 180 million-strong market is emerging – something that manufacturers could thrive on if they could just get the reliable electricity to make manufacturing profitable.