Smart contracts can help avoid human error and prevent fraud in countries like Nigeria.

Among many vices, corruption in Nigeria stands as one of its biggest problems. Several administrations have been and gone with claims of fighting corruption. Despite the application of orthodox methods, not much has been achieved. Will smart contracts help solve this problem which has given the biggest black nation such a bad image?

Nigeria is “fantastically corrupt”

British Prime Minister David Cameron was caught on camera telling Queen Elizabeth that leaders of some “fantastically corrupt’’ countries, including Nigeria and Afghanistan, were due to attend the anti-corruption summit holding in London.

Buhari would claim back assets

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria arrived in London for the summit to be confronted by journalists who asked if he was going to demand an apology from the British Prime Minister. He responded by saying that he wouldn’t, but rather that he would ask for something tangible, a return of stolen Nigerian assets which are domiciled in the United Kingdom.

Many Nigerians see President Buhari’s response as a form of acceptance that the nation is truly “fantastically corrupt”.

Corruption stands to be the biggest problem facing the world’s largest black nation. Indeed, President Buhari was voted to lead the nation in 2015 due to his promise to fight this hydra-headed beast which has eaten into every sector of economy and is responsible for the poor state of economic and infrastructural development of the country.

No effective solution so far

Corruption in Nigeria thrives due to the ability of both the citizens and foreign investors to manipulate the existing systems. Land fraud, infrastructural contract breaches, supply of products and services are all manipulated and the country is being milked dry.

Despite the efforts of previous governments and the initial actions of the present administration, fighting corruption has remained an insurmountable task. The issue at the moment is which method will effectively tackle corruption in Nigeria.So far, arrests, prosecution and punishment have been the prevailing methods employed by the present Nigerian government in fighting corruption. The limitations of the judiciary system and the patterns of legal procedures have left the majority of Nigerian citizens with doubts if this problem can truly be conquered.

Some individuals have argued that the only effective way to bring this menace to a halt is to initiate preventive methods, creating systems which will make bribery and dishonesty less likely. Stopping corruption before it happens. In other words, corruption should be fought with logic rather than emotion.

A new way to fight corruption

In 2015 the former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan said that corruption could only be fought effectively with instruments of the law and strong institutions:

"You don't fight corruption with nerve. You fight it with the instruments of law. You fight it by strengthening institutions. Advanced countries don't use their nerve to fight corruption, it is not presidents or prime ministers who fight corruption in those countries. It is the system. That is why even the prime minister or president can be removed and tried for corruption. In Nigeria, some people want strong men as presidents who will fight corruption as they wish, as they want and as they please. You cannot sustain that. You cannot even guarantee that there will be no abuse.”

Goodluck Jonathan, Former President of Nigeria

Speaking to Cointelegraph on how to secure and manage contractual processes, co-Founder and Director at SatoshiLabs, Alena Vranova maintains that smart contracts are as secure as the tools that people use to manage them. She emphasizes that our computers and mobile devices were primarily designed to share, not to protect valuable data.

“Luckily we have hardware wallets that address the digital security risks. Trezor just started to implement ETH support and it already works with colored coins, so managing smart contracts securely will be possible.” Says Vranova.

Vranova also says that smart contracts can help avoid human error and prevent fraud.

Co-Founder  of Cashila, Jani Valjavec identifies the best case use for Smart Contracts at the moment to be in a property management land register. Valjavec says that such a situation guarantees the authenticity of entries and makes them very transparent and non-manipulatable.

“In such cases, we use notary services. Smart contracts when registry is in Ethereum's blockchain can swap owners with 100% accuracy under specific conditions contained within the contract. Notary service is expensive and takes time. And it can also be either corrupted or mistakes can happen. But with smart contracts, once exchange happens, it's 100% valid.”

Valjavec predicts a delayed deployment of this technology by governments though, mentioning that the private sector will definitely find use cases for the process before government deployments.

“A typical example is in lotteries, where money is paid in and a smart contract would execute automatically, then a player gets paid out as soon as all the conditions are met,” concludes Valjavec.