Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Tijjani Bande, and other African envoys made the pledge at the celebration of Africa Day, hosted by the AU Mission to the UN.
On Africa Day, Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora converge to recommit to the mission of the AU and to celebrate the diversity and progress of Africa.
Bande represented President Muhammadu Buhari, who was recognised in his capacity as the Champion of AU’s anti-corruption crusade.
The theme for this year is: ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’.
He noted the laudable vision of the defunct Organisation of African Unity, now AU, but said it would not be achieved if the continent did not deal with corruption.
Bande said: “The Thabo Mbeki Report indicated that Africa loses at least 50 billion dollars to corruption yearly and it receives less as aid.
“Talking about corruption, which is not calculated but happens every day, the conclusion is clear: there’s no way we’ll achieve our ambition if we do not tackle corruption.
“The President of Nigeria has been showing clear resolve to fight corruption – Treasury Single Account, Whistle Blowers Policy and no one will be allowed to go scot-free with corrupt practices.
“And almost every day, millions of Naira are being uncovered that could not be used even by individuals who have stolen them.’’
Bande conveyed Buhari’s gratitude for the recognition that he should lead as “champion against corruption” but reminded the gathering that “corruption fights back”.
He said corruption had fought back and is fighting back, not only in Nigeria but all over the continent, stressing the need for resilience in the fight against the scourge.
According to him, every institution – judiciary, executive, legislature – is implicated, adding that fighting corruption involves all of us; the citizens must be on board or there would be no victory.
The Nigerian envoy said political will, individual efforts, institutional reforms, among others, were needed, stressing that there is the need to forge stronger partnership to ensure stolen funds are returned.
Chairperson of African Union Commission, Moussa Mahamat, said the launch of AU was a testimony to the determination of African leaders to expedite the achievement of continental unity and to find home-grown solutions to the region’s challenges.
Represented by Ms Fatima Kyari-Mohammed, Permanent Representative of AU to the UN, Mahamat said central to the work ahead of AU is the fight against corruption in all its forms. “Corruption destroys the lives of ordinary people and undermines their trust in their leaders and public institutions.”
“Resources that are needed for development and the delivery of services – such as electricity, education, healthcare, sanitation and clean water – are diverted by a few, thus depriving the majority of the people from access to these critical services.”
The AU Commission chief said African leaders had declared the July 11 yearly as ‘African Anti-Corruption Day’, 2018 as ‘Year for Combating Corruption’ and adopted a ‘Call to Action’ to fight against corruption and eradicate it.
“I want to challenge all of us, leaders and Africans from all walks of life, to firmly deal with this scourge,” the AU chief said.
Mahamat said 2018 witnessed the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market, as well as the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, and the African Passport.
Other speakers at the event, which also honoured the centenary birthday of late Dr Nelson Mandela, included Rwandan Ambassador to the UN Valentine Rugwabiza and President of the UN General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak.
Others were Vice President of Universal Peace Federation International, Tageldin Hamad, Wife of Cape Verde Ambassador to the UN Yamile Rocha and South Africa’s Ambassador to the UN Jerry Matjila.
Matjila formally presented South Africa’s candidacy for the Non-Permanent Seat of the UN Security Council, representing Africa for the 2019 to 2020 term, which election comes up on June 8.