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Clean Sweep Ignatius: A Short Story by Jeffrey Archer

Clean Sweep Ignatius is one of the short stories from Jeffrey Archer's second collection of short stories, A Twist in the Tale, published in 1988. The story is set in Nigeria, where a newly appointed Minister of Finance, Ignatius Agumba, tries to reform the corrupt system and stop the embezzlement of public funds. However, he faces resistance from powerful and greedy officials who are determined to maintain the status quo. The story is a witty and ingenious satire on the politics and corruption in Nigeria, as well as a showcase of Archer's storytelling skills.


Summary of Clean Sweep Ignatius

The story begins with General Otobi, the military ruler of Nigeria, announcing the appointment of Ignatius Agumba as the new Minister of Finance. Ignatius is a young and honest economist who has studied at Harvard and Oxford. He is given the task of cleaning up the financial mess left by his predecessor, who had fled the country with millions of dollars. Ignatius accepts the challenge and vows to make Nigeria a model of efficiency and transparency.

Ignatius starts by introducing a series of reforms, such as abolishing cash payments, computerizing the accounts, auditing the ministries, and firing the corrupt officials. He also launches a campaign to recover the stolen money from abroad, with the help of Interpol and foreign banks. His actions earn him the nickname "Clean Sweep Ignatius" among the public and the press. However, they also make him many enemies among the politicians and bureaucrats who are used to siphoning off public funds for their personal gain.

One of his main opponents is Chief Okafor, the Minister of Petroleum, who controls the lucrative oil industry. Okafor is a cunning and ruthless man who has amassed a fortune by inflating the oil prices and diverting the revenues to his Swiss accounts. He is also a close ally of General Otobi, who relies on him for political support and military funding. Okafor tries to sabotage Ignatius's reforms by bribing, threatening, and blackmailing his subordinates and associates. He also plots to assassinate Ignatius, but fails due to Ignatius's security measures.

Despite Okafor's efforts, Ignatius manages to reduce the budget deficit, increase the foreign reserves, and improve the economic growth. He also succeeds in tracing and recovering most of the stolen money from abroad, except for one account that belongs to Okafor. The account contains over 200 million dollars and is held in a bank in Zurich. Ignatius decides to confront Okafor personally and demand that he returns the money or face prosecution.

Ignatius arranges a meeting with Okafor at his office in Lagos. He shows him a copy of his bank statement and gives him an ultimatum: either he transfers the money back to Nigeria within 24 hours or he will be arrested and exposed. Okafor pretends to be cooperative and agrees to comply. However, he secretly plans to kill Ignatius before he leaves the office. He calls his hitman, who is waiting outside with a sniper rifle, and tells him to shoot Ignatius when he sees him walking out of the building.

Ignatius thanks Okafor for his cooperation and prepares to leave. However, before he does, he reveals a twist: he has already transferred the money from Okafor's account to Nigeria's account using his computer skills and authorization codes. He shows Okafor another copy of his bank statement that confirms the transaction. He then tells Okafor that he has recorded their conversation and that he will send it to General Otobi as evidence of his corruption and treason. He also tells Okafor that he has alerted Interpol and that they will arrest him as soon as he leaves Nigeria.

Okafor is stunned and furious by Ignatius's revelation. He realizes that he has been outsmarted and outplayed by Ignatius. He also realizes that he has no way out: if he stays in Nigeria, he will be arrested by General Otobi; if he flees abroad, he will be arrested by Interpol. He decides to take his own life rather than face humiliation and imprisonment. He grabs a gun from his drawer and shoots himself in the head.

Ignatius hears the gunshot and rushes back into Okafor's office. He sees Okafor's dead body on the floor and smiles triumphantly. He then walks out of the building, unaware that Okafor's hitman is still aiming at him. However, before the hitman can pull the trigger, he is shot and killed by Ignatius's bodyguard, who has spotted him from a nearby rooftop. Ignatius reaches his car safely and drives away, having completed his clean sweep.

Analysis of Clean Sweep Ignatius

Clean Sweep Ignatius is a typical example of Jeffrey Archer's style of writing: short, fast-paced, and full of twists and turns. The story is based on Archer's own experience of visiting Nigeria in 1983, when he witnessed the corruption and chaos that plagued the country under the military regime. He was inspired by the contrast between the rich and powerful elites who lived in luxury and the poor and oppressed masses who lived in misery. He also learned about the role of oil in Nigeria's economy and politics, as well as the involvement of foreign banks and agencies in facilitating the theft of public funds.

The story is also a reflection of Archer's views on morality and justice. He portrays Ignatius as a hero who fights against the evil forces of corruption and greed. He depicts Okafor as a villain who represents the worst aspects of human nature: selfishness, dishonesty, and violence. He shows how Ignatius uses his intelligence, courage, and integrity to overcome Okafor's schemes and traps. He also shows how Okafor meets his deserved fate: death by his own hand. He implies that good always triumphs over evil and that crime does not pay.

The story is also a demonstration of Archer's skill in creating suspense and surprise. He uses various techniques to keep the reader engaged and entertained, such as foreshadowing, irony, dialogue, and description. He builds up the tension and conflict between Ignatius and Okafor, leading to the final confrontation and climax. He also adds a twist at the end, revealing that Ignatius has already transferred Okafor's money and recorded their conversation. He makes the reader wonder what will happen next, until he delivers the resolution: Okafor's suicide and Ignatius's escape.


Clean Sweep Ignatius is a short story that showcases Jeffrey Archer's talent as a storyteller. It is a captivating and humorous tale that explores the themes of corruption, power, and justice in Nigeria. It features a memorable protagonist who challenges and defeats a formidable antagonist. It also contains a clever plot that keeps the reader guessing and amused until the end.

If you are interested in reading Clean Sweep Ignatius or other short stories by Jeffrey Archer, you can find them online or in bookstores. You can also download a PDF version of Clean Sweep Ignatius from [this link].


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