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‘Corruption fueling instability in W’Africa’

By PAUL MICHAEL,

  • Minister bemoans coup resurgence
  • Bawa emerges NACIWA chairman

Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, has said the high rate of corruption in West Africa is fueling political instability in the sub-region. He blamed the recent military coups in three West African countries (Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso) on corruption and other negative political and economic factors.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has also lamented that West Africa is again slipping back into the dark days of military rule.

The ICPC chairman and the minister raised their concerns in Abuja at the Annual General Assembly of the Network of National Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (NACIWA), with the theme: “The Role of Regional Economic Communities in the Implementation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption” and sub-theme: “United to combat Corruption in West Africa.”

Owasanoye expressed worry that the forceful change of democratic governments in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, partly due to lack of implementation of anti-corruption treaties by member countries, regressed the gains of democracy within the sub-region, The Trumpet gathered.

“Let me note with concern that the subregion has in the past two years witnessed a resurgence of military takeover of governments and a reversal of years of gains of democratic culture in our 15 nation regional member states. “Every student of West African history knows that social discontent is always a factor in the forceful takeover of governments by military juntas.

The current wave of coups is however occasioned by a mix bag of issues within the sub-region including regional political instability, insecurity, absence of rule of law, weak institutions and of course, corruption in government and governance.

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“One can surmise that the inability of our institutions to fully implement our individual mandates and by implication the regional treaty obligations is a contributing factor to the resurgence of unconstitutional takeover of government within the West African subregion,” he said. The ICPC boss further expressed worries that corruption and political instability within the sub-region have weakened economic and infrastructural development in member countries of NACIWA.

According to him, “The presence of these factors and more, but most especially weak institutions of state and corruption in government and governance has and continues to undermine development aspirations of the region and makes ordinary people welcome change of government no matter how implemented, in the hope that livelihood will improve.”

He opined that the way forward for the sub-region to enjoy stability in democratic governance and development was for membercountries to criminalize corrupt practices and adopt legislative, policy and technical measures for the prevention and detection of corrupt practices. On his part, the minister, who opened the conference, lamented that the sub-region, recognized as the bastion of democracy, was beginning to slip back into the dark days of military government.

He stated that there was need for a shift in strategy adding that Nigeria has always demonstrated commitment to fight corruption and promote development in the sub-region. Onyeama stressed that Nigeria was the first to ratify the ECOWAS Protocol on the fight against corruption and was one of the driving forces at the United Nations General Assembly pushing for the repatriation of funds stolen from the sub-region through Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).

He added that Nigeria would support NACIWA in capacity development while also assuring ICPC and EFCC of government’s support in combating corruption in the sub-region. Meanwhile, while delivering his speech, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, who was elected as the new Chairman of NACIWA, stated that Nigeria having prioritized the fight against corruption, has facilitated capacity development for NACIWA member-countries.

Bawa added that EFCC’s convictions and cash recoveries from corrupt persons in the previous year demonstrates Nigeria’s commitment to fighting corruption. He added that EFCC has been able to stem the illicit movement of funds across borders within the sub-region especially by politically exposed persons.

 

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