“Throughout this year, we have focused ‘on the strategy for Africa’s structural transformation on strengthening our collective anti-corruption fight.”
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has sought the corporation of African Union member states to urgently ratify the convention on preventing and combating corruption on the continent.
This is even as he challenged the young Africans to lead the fight against corruption and ensure they win in order to reverse the negative trends of corruption and its implications for continent.
Buhari spoke in his capacity as champion of the 2018 African Anti-Corruption Year, when he launched the Africa Youth Congress Against Corruption at the State House, Abuja on Sunday.
President Buhari noted that corruption robs the continent of resources needed to engender growth and development, insisting that concerted efforts must be made to tame it.
According to him, incorporating anti-corruption curricula and anti-graft campaigns in schools, businesses and making the populace to embrace it would go a long way in changing corruption narratives in Africa.
“To the young people of Africa, this fight against corruption is yours to lead and to win in order to reverse the negative trends of corruption and its implications for Africa.
“The youth of Africa must pool their energies to effectively ensure that our natural and mineral resources remain on the continent for value addition, job and wealth creation as well as to create affordable health-care and quality education for our people. Winning the fight against corruption is very much in your hands!
“Of particular interest to the youth, as reflected in the Nouakchott Declaration, is the emphasis on the imperative of investing in the demographic dividends through anti-corruption, education and sensitisation campaigns, targeting young people as a means of bringing about behavioural change,” he stated.
Buhari who got elected as the AU ambassador on Anti-Corruption at the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in early 2018, gave a score card of his impact saying: “The anti-corruption year of the African Union has been long and demanding.”
He added that the year has also been filled with sharing great lessons, promises and inspirations as well as some success stories on the journey to winning the fight against corruption.
“I’m therefore, very pleased that with your support, we have kept faith with the African people, particularly our youth gathered here today. Throughout this year, we have focused ‘on the strategy for Africa’s structural transformation on strengthening our collective anti-corruption fight.
“As African leaders, we made history in adopting this theme in January 2018 in Addis Ababa and openly debated and evaluated our strategy in Nouakchott last July. And today in Nigeria’s capital with our youth, we are rallying against this once-hidden taboo and hydra-headed challenge that freezes our aspirations and dents the hopes of our youth for an emergent Africa.
“During the mid-year summit of the African Union Assembly, African Heads of State and Government adopted the Nouakchott Declaration on the Anti-Corruption Year, to serve as a roadmap in the fight against corruption over the coming years.
“The Declaration reiterated that corruption is not only an African phenomenon but a global one, especially when we consider illicit financial flows where Africa, regrettably is in fact a net creditor to the world.
“African youth must remain in the front and centre of restoring traditional African values of probity, integrity, honesty, diligence and hard work. It is only when the youth drive this change, that corruption will be eliminated.”
In his remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said that the summit should serve as a call to action.
He noted that corruption was a universal phenomenon but extremely debilitating to Africa, adding that it impedes growth and development and denies the use of very scarce, limited resources for development.
Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, said despite the daunting task of taming corruption in Nigeria, the agency was committed to remaining on the front line of the battle.
According to him, corruption has undermined social and economic progress of the continent, stressing that President Buhari had shown consistence and displayed unwavering commitment to the fight against corruption through policies like the whistle blower, significant asset forfeiture, Treasury Single Account to check financial leakage, the Bank Verification Number (BVN) a unique identity code for each customer that can be used for easy identification of beneficiaries of fraud,
Executive Orders for continuous audit, including the return of stolen funds $321 from Switzerland recently.
“We must come together to secure our nation and the African continent so that we can secure the future of our teeming youth.”
“We remain confident that after today the youth will enter into a strong partnership with anti-corruption agencies; we will strive never to betray the anti-corruption mandate given to us.”