Why African leaders must fight corruption – Osinbajo
By Theresa Igata
Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, says African leaders must entrench a culture of transparency and accountability as the cost of corruption imposes on all African countries and governments a moral obligation to fight it with vigour and political will. He wants institutions and anti-graft agencies strengthened.
Osinbajo who was speaking at the 8th Commonwealth Conference of Heads of Anti- corruption Agencies in Africa said that while public sector corruption is the usual focus, the private sector’s complicity is significant, especially with large multinational corporations engaged in tax evasion or transfer pricing.
“But it is the complex web of public-private collusion and connivance that results in proceeds of corruption ending up in foreign countries and, especially, in their financial institutions and systems. Dismantling the conspiracies that facilitate export of stolen assets is probably as important as the theme of this conference which is “Partnering towards Assets Recovery and Return.”
“It underscores the fact that fighting corruption is futile if we do not ensure that the proceeds of corruption find no safe haven. And that such proceeds are fully recovered and promptly repatriated. Recovering stolen assets not only accomplishes the goal of restitution, it also serves as a potential deterrent to future corruption.”
“The fight against corruption is far more sophisticated, vicious and nuanced than ever before. In many of our countries it is in the nature of State Capture, where the strongest arms of the polity is the corrupt superstructure, represented in the formal and informal structures of the state and society. So when corruption fights back in such systems, the courage and commitment of agency operatives is not enough. We must provide adequate resources to investigate, adequately equip operatives, protect their families, and protect whistle-blowers and witnesses”, Osinbajo said.
He added that “for us in Africa, corruption continues to be one of the greatest challenges of our time; a problem that threatens the very existence, and continued survival of our societies”.
“It has been rightly described as a crime against humanity, because of the implications on the lives and livelihoods of all, especially the poorest. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life, allows organized crime and terrorism to flourish, and triggers needless wars and bloodshed. And indeed, much has been lost and is still being lost. A report that may be cited in this gathering is the one by the One Campaign, titled the “One Trillion Dollar Scandal.”
“The 2014 report claims that developing countries lose $1 trillion annually to corporate transgressions, most of it traceable to the activities of companies with secret ownership”.
“Another report that may enjoy a major mention here is the 2015 report of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa. Chaired by our guest of honour, former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, the panel concluded in its report that Africa had lost over $1 trillion over a 50-year period and that Africa loses more than $50 billion annually to illicit financial flows. Most of these illicit flows are perpetrated in the extractive sector and many through companies with hidden ownerships”, he added.
For the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia, the issue of corruption should be at the forefront of efforts of anti- corruption agencies. She however assured that Nigeria will get all her monies back. “That is why I’m here in Nigeria to celebrate you as a big partner in this issue even as you have recovered over $3 billion of ill-gotten monies which is more money that has been recovered in one year than in ten years”
Patricia however urged the anti-corruption agencies to seek to meet the challenge as ” We are currently facing a tsunami of corruption globally “.