This week, top anti-corruption czars from Commonwealth Africa are in Abuja for the 8th high level conference of the Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Centre (CAACC).
The Commonwealth Africa Anti-Corruption Centre or ‘The Centre’ as it is commonly known, is a non-profit organization launched on February 25, 2013, in Gaborone, Botswana, as a partnership between the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Government of Botswana, which is the host country, and Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies of the 19 Commonwealth African countries (Botswana, Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia).
The Centre is a prime vehicle for improving coordination between and strengthening the capacity of anti-corruption agencies in Commonwealth Africa.
Nothing much needs to be said for the reason Nigeria is hosting such an important event. It is yet another validation that the fight against corruption being pursued by the current administration is increasingly getting global attention.
The Centre is a peer-review group for heads of anti-corruption agencies in Commonwealth countries in Africa.
It provides an opportunity for anti-corruption czars on the continent to brainstorm on current trends in the fight against corruption and explore avenues of international collaborations for the success of the anti-corruption war.
At its 7th annual conference held in Malawi in June 2917, the acting chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, was elected vice chairman of the 19-member association. It was a peer recognition for Magu’s commitment as an individual and for EFCC’s, nay Nigeria’s seriousness, in tackling the corruption menace.
There is no gainsaying that the present administration has demonstrated ample seriousness in tackling the menace of corruption.
In a style that takes no prisoner, the government, especially through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has pursued corruption and the corrupt with uncommon vigour and ruthlessness deserving of the war. It is therefore not surprising that the world is reckoning with Nigeria in this regard.
What the chiefs of anti-corruption agencies in Commonwealth Africa did to Magu in June 2017 was an honour and deserved recognition of Nigeria in the fight against corruption.
In January 2018, when African heads of governments under the aegis of the African Union met in Addis Ababa, a major highlight of that annual ritual was conferring President Muhammadu Buhari with Africa Anti-corruption Champion badge of honour. The decision to select the president to champion Africa’s fight against one of its greatest maladies was first taken at the end of the 29th Session of the Union in 2017.
By that recognition, the AU did not only applaud the sound leadership of President Buhari and Nigeria’s current trend in the fight against corruption, it also sought the help of Nigeria and its president to lead the rest of Africa in the battle against corruption.
It was not a vacuous decision. The eminent persons that are members and leaders of the Union are well aware of the giant strides Nigeria is recording in the fight against corruption. They are also well aware of President Buhari’s avowed commitment in this regard.
The president demonstrated that commitment in accepting the challenge of his colleagues. As he said during the launch of the 2018 AU theme on the fighting corruption, the continent stands to benefit when there is collaboration and concerted action on the part of every member country.
For Africa to develop, corruption has to be rooted out. This is a gospel that the president has been repeating since his inaugural address when he delivered these memorable lines:“If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”.
In dissecting the evils of corruption, President Buhari said it was evident that corruption has a devastating impact on marginalized communities, especially the youth, women and children.
He said corruption breeds unequal societies, renders vulnerable groups prone to human trafficking, and provides a fertile recruitment ground for armed groups and the militia. “In effect, corruption deprives our young citizens of opportunities to develop meaningful livelihoods. We must therefore, work together to defeat this evil,” he emphasized.
But key to the success of any fight against corruption, President Buhari reminded the African leaders, is developing capable institutions to spearhead the war. “We must adequately empower our national anti-corruption agencies and insulate them from political influence. We have to encourage increased institutional collaboration between law enforcement agencies and anti-corruption agencies in order to win this fight,” he noted.
President Buhari promised the Heads of State that, with their endorsement during the course of 2018, he will prioritize the following initiatives, to help fight corruption in Africa:
a) Organize African Youth Congresses against Corruption, in order to sensitize and engage our youth in the fight against corruption;
b) Mobilize all African Union Member States to implement the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption; and
c) Advocate for the strengthening of the criminal justice system across Africa through exchange of information and sharing best practices in the enforcement of anti-corruption laws.
The EFCC under the leadership of Ibrahim Magu has been working assiduously in ensuring that the mandate given President Buhari at two levels is well delivered on. First, the president has the mandate of Nigerians to tackle their grievous headache, which is corruption. He also has that of his compatriots, the other African leaders, to help Africa find a consensus and solution to the problem.
The avalanche of cases arising from important corruption cases being handled by the EFCC has populated our courts. The recoveries are humongous and unprecedented, not only by Nigerian standards, but by that of any anti-corruption agency in Africa. For these, the world has found partners in Nigeria led by President Buhari and the EFCC led by Ibrahim Magu in the holistic fight against corruption.
It is little wonder then that while world leaders and organisations extend a hand of fellowship to Nigeria, a number of countries that were hitherto reluctant to return looted funds are now inviting Nigeria to lay claim to stashed funds in their territories.
Nigeria is regaining its enviable place in Africa and in the world, thanks to this spirited fight against the menace of corruption in the country.
–Alli, a public affairs analyst and anti-corruption activist, writes from