31st AU Summit:What it takes to fight corruption?
As the curtains closed on the 31st African Union summit in Mauritania, leaders left feeling they now have some of the tools needed to fight corruption. “Winning the fight against corruption’’- the sustainable path towards Africa transformation” was the theme of this year’s event.
Dr. Vera Songwe, Executive Council Foreign Minister during the AU summit says that combined African nations lose an estimated $50 billion annually because of tax evasion. Poorly negotiated and inflated contracts also cost governments huge amounts of money and many African nations have seen valuable natural resources squandered due to widespread corruption.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who is working in partnership with AU chairperson, Rwanda President Paul Kagame has not only pledged to extend his anti-corruption effort across the African continent but sensitize Africans on the evil effects of corruption on societies.
President Buhari called on nations currently holding looted assets to release them without the usually long technicalities involved in the process of repatriation.
“We must all collectively work to place high on the agenda the need for open and participatory government, as well as the repatriation of stolen assets without procedural technicalities and legal obstacles,” Buhari said.
Speaking at a press conference Monday, Commissioner for Human Resources Science and Technology, Prof Sarah Anyang Agbor revealed that corruption had spread to all areas and needs to be meted
‘’11th July is the date that has been set out to create awareness on corruption across Africa,” said, Dr. Agbor. “Corruption has also spread in the education sector and we need to and we need to walk the talk, we believe that the African Union should not only ratify decisions but implement them.”
Africa has been bogged down by monumental corruption for decades and for decades citizens have demanded some form of positive result in the fight against corruption. Analyst Edwin Ikhuoria, Nigeria Country Representative for The One campaign – an international non-profit organization that fights against extreme poverty and other social problems, believes a change in governance within Africa is a critical step needed to end the scourge of corruption
‘’Transparency is the way to fight corruption, if citizens trust the government you can succeed African leaders need to demonstrate that they can be trusted’’
With significant progress made in fighting corruption, Ikhuoria says more needs to be done.
‘’In Africa, examples such as Rwanda President Kagame on zero tolerance is commendable, I am also happy even in Kenya recently President Uhuru Kenyatta had to appoint someone from opposition lead the fight in corruption shows we are sincere. In Nigeria there are lots of resources that have been recovered from people who have stolen money. Senegal has also taken steps by publishing contracts they have given.’’
Ikhuoria cites Chinese President Xi Jinping’s bold leadership as a model African leaders can use in their efforts. President Xi came into power in 2012 .His anti-corruption campaign has greatly advanced the Chinese economy
‘’ If there is any example in the world where public sector corruption has been handled effectively, sometimes brutally is China”, says Ikhuoria. “It’s impossible you can find one person amassing the wealth of the public because you will be caught and published severely. That’s one of the lessons you should learn. You are afraid to get punished and if you (as a government) are truly sincere you should make it dangerous in engaging in corruption’’,
African countries are now been asked to adapt such policy.
This is how the chairman of the AU commission, Moussa Faki sums up the issue.
“Corruption kills. Corruption is an endemic that affects people’s daily lives, from poorly built roads to unequal access to health care and medicine, to crime and violence in our communities and across borders, to political choices distorted by money and greed among other societal ills”.