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AU Summit: leaders vow to end corruption

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AU Summit: leaders vow to end corruption

Franck Kuwonu
President Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria addresses the General Assembly’s annual general debate. UN Photo/Cia Pak
President Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria addresses the General Assembly’s annual general debate. UN Photo/Cia Pak
President Muhammad Buhari of Nigeria addresses the General Assembly’s annual general debate. UN Photo/Cia Pak

The African Union (AU) has entrusted the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, with the responsibility to spearhead a year-long effort to raise awareness of corruption on the continent. This comes 15 years after Member States adopted the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption (AUCPCC).

At the AU Summit in Addis last week, African leaders resolved to step up efforts against corruption in 2018.

“Corruption rewards those who do not play by the rules and creates a system of distortion and diversion thereby destroying all efforts at constructive, just and fair governance,” President Buhari said at the summit.

Although Member States are bound by the AUCPCC, corruption on the continent remains a challenge, according to Afrobarometer, a Ghana-based independent pan-African research network that conducts public opinion surveys.

More than half of people surveyed by Afrobarometer three years ago found that corruption levels in their countries had increased over the previous year. Only about two of every 10 respondents in the survey thought corruption levels had decreased in their countries.

The majorities of respondents in South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria noted an increase in levels of corruption, the research network reported.

Mr. Buhari himself used a strong anti-corruption manifesto to gain power in late 2015, tapping into citizens’ dissatisfaction with corrupt practices in government. However, critics say his anti-corruption efforts been been bogged down in complicated court proceedings.  

The AU believes Mr. Buhari has earned a reputation of a strong advocate of good governance, making him an ideal figure to lead a continent-wide campaign against corruption.   

Mr. Buhari has called on countries to invest in institutions, saying, for example, that “A judiciary which stands firm against arbitrariness and injustice by the executive is a vital pillar in the anti-corruption fight.”

The Nigerian leader urged African leaders to build synergies between the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government to entrench “good governance, transparency and accountability”.

Mr. Buhari promised to convene very soon an African Youth Congress against corruption, advocate for the implementation of the AUCPCC and push for the strengthening of the criminal justice system across the continent through the exchange of information and sharing of best practices in the enforcement of anti-corruption laws.

Emmanuel Nnadozie, head of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), told journalists in Addis Ababa that African leaders must lead the fight against corruption through examples.

Mr. Nnadozie reiterated that such a fight was not just about enforcement of laws, but also about changing mindsets using various mechanisms.

Each year, Africa loses at least $50 billion through corrupt practices, according to ACBF said.