President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday said Nigeria was committed to fighting corruption for life.
“Nigeria’s abiding commitment to the fight against corruption today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” Buhari said while inaugurating the African Anti-Corruption Year 2018 during the opening of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President described corruption as one of the greatest evils of our time, adding that Africa loses about $50bn yearly to the vice.
“Corruption is indeed one of the greatest evils of our time. Corruption rewards those who do not play by the rules and also creates a system of distortion and diversion thereby destroying all efforts at constructive, just and fair governance,” Buhari was quoted as saying.
Being the champion of the theme of the 30th AU Summit, “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation,” the President thanked his African colleagues for entrusting him with such a noble responsibility.
Revealing that Africa loses about $550bn annually to corruption, he advocated greater efforts in addressing “the causal relationship between corruption and illicit financial flows.”
Drawing the attention of his colleagues to the “corrosive role that tax havens and secret jurisdictions play in concealing ill-gotten assets,” Buhari said the continental body “must do more to stop the continuous assault on our economic and financial resources by multinationals in collusion with some of our citizens.”
He pledged to do his best “to ensure that the anti-corruption agenda will receive the attention it deserves and make the impact we all hope for, during 2018 and beyond.”
The President, who noted that Africa had made some significant strides in enacting legal and policy frameworks such as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption to address the vice, said the desired impact had been lacking.
“Fifteen years after the adoption of the African Union Convention, 2018 provides a good starting point to take stock of progress made so far, assess what still needs to be done and devise new strategies to address new corruption challenges,” he said.
According to the President, in spite of sustained economic growth on the continent for the past two decades, “public confidence has been eroded by a focus on short-term priorities and payoffs, propelled by corruption, which too often leaves projects uncompleted and promises unfulfilled.”
He identified other negative effects of corruption as, posing a real threat to national security; eroding the development of a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, human rights, justice and the rule of law.
In tackling bribery and corruption, the Nigerian leader said the crucial place of strong institutions could not be over-emphasised.