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The Solution To Corruption In Africa
 
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15-Jan-2018  
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There is no gainsaying that corruption is a canker worm that has eaten deep into the flesh of many nations of the world. It is a cancer which is intricately woven into the fabrics of the African society as it cuts across political, economic, social, and other spheres of life, affecting the old and young; male and female. As a matter of fact, it is best described as a major reason for the backwardness and under-development of the African continent as it undermines effective governance, and resources meant for national development are siphoned and embezzled.

Considering the pace at which corruption thrives in the African continent, it will be safe to posit that the menace is attractive and thus, profitable. It has found a fertile soil on which it escalates with little or no encumbrance. Simply put, it pays to be corrupt in this part of the world that is why many people are queuing into this trend.

Corruption has been defined by the World Bank (1997) world Development Report as “the abuse of public office for private gains. Public office is abused for private gain when an official accepts, solicits, or extorts a bribe. It is also abused when private agents actively offer bribes to circumvent public policies and processes for competitive advantage and profit. Public offices can also be abused for personal benefit even if no bribery occurs through patronage and nepotism, the theft of state assets or the diversion of state revenue.”

In every country where corruption flourishes, these devastating effects abounds: few are unjustly enriched at the expense of the majority thereby giving rise to poverty; respect for rule of law is discarded and political instability is imminent; depletion of national wealth, social inequality which may give rise to unhealthy competition; reduction in the level of productivity and quality of goods and services; reduction in the level of foreign investment, bad international image, among others.

Corruption can be eradicated in Africa when it is made unattractive. This can take two broad ways, viz: formal and informal.

FORMAL:

This is when Government through its institutions and agencies is involved in combating the pandemic of corruption, thus making it unattractive. This may take several forms which include: Transparency and accountability, good reward system, international collaboration, cashless economy and political will.

TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY: Most African countries operate a system of government where little emphasis is made on transparency. This explains why a man would be living a modest or average life before assuming political office, but at the time of relinquishing such political office, his standard of living would have drastically accelerated. Government funds are being embezzled by the day and no one truly cares as to how expenditure goes on. Even when it comes to budget allocation, budgets are so vague that it gives room for embezzlement.

Therefore, when a government is run transparently, and the officials are required to account as to how every fund budgeted is received and spent, and there is a body charged with the responsibility of making a fiscal transparency assessment and the results published, then corruption can be made unattractive.

On another note, there is also little emphasis on public office holders to declare their assets, and this gives them the impetus to acquire more wealth through fraudulent means. So, when there is a periodic obligation on their part to declare their assets and that of their immediate families (as some of them acquire wealth in the name of their wives and children), then they will be scared to be corrupt, as it makes them vulnerable to being caught.

GOOD REWARD SYSTEM: It would be unfair for us to deny that our continent is bedevilled by poverty. The implication of this is that people seek to make a living at all cost, not only for themselves, but for their dependants. Therefore, government work offers an opportunity for these people to be sustained and have their means of livelihood. There is a popular aphorismthat says “where one works, that is where he eats”. To this end, in a situation where the lawful income one receives at the end of the month is so meagre that it can hardly cater for the month’s needs, or it is not paid on time, most people will believe they have to devise a means for the augmentation of their income, which will make them indulge in corrupt practices.

In the light of the foregoing, when reasonable salaries and allowances are paid as at when due, it will ensure that those people who are corrupt on the basis of sustaining themselves, will desist from it. So also, those coming up will not indulge in it.

In a similar vein, we should build a society where honesty, integrity and dedication to duty are sufficiently rewarded, as this also will make corruption unattractive.

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION: Most African leaders after embezzling huge government funds kept it somewhere else, enabled by systems of poor regulation that allow abuse by those looking for ways to profit. The UK’s commission for Africa estimates that the assets stolen from the continent and held in foreign bank accounts amount to 93 billion dollars. For instance, Nigeria’s military dictator, Gen. Sani Abatcha, was believed to have stolen between 5-6 Billion Dollars and invested most of it in the Western world. Also, a former Governor of Plateau State in Nigeria, Joshua Dariye, was found by London Metropolitan police to operate 25 bank accounts in London alone. And like many of his counterparts, he used front agents to penetrate western real estate markets where he purchased choice and expensive properties.

In essence, corruption can be made unattractive in Africa when these countries where funds are transferred join hands with the local anti- corruption agencies of the African countries concerned, to intimate them of any transaction or investment above a certain amount. Again, assistance from United Nations, United States, and agencies like FBI, Financial Action Task Force, and Department of Justice will help in setting up and nurturing the Anti corruption agencies within Africa.

So also, some of these corrupt public officials usually relocate to Western countries anytime they are wanted in their countries for any corrupt practice. Therefore, international collaboration in tackling this menace will ensure that they are repatriated back to their countries.

CASHLESS ECONOMY: A cashless economy is one in which the purchase of goods and services and the payment of debts and remittances are done through electronic money media, either through credit and debit cards, direct transfers from one account to another, smart cards, mobile payment systems, and other technologies. It is a fact that we are yet to imbibe the cashless culture in most African countries, and the use of physical paper cash is non-traceable, unaccountable, easy to hide or lose, steal, counterfeit, and spend without a trace. Bribes are often facilitated through cash inside envelopes and sacks.

To this end, when the cashless culture is made part of our economy, the giving of bribes and other corrupt practices will drastically reduce; and any transfer for such purpose can easily be monitored by agencies concerned, thus making corruption unattractive.

POLITICAL WILL: Virtually every government when assuming power in most African countries, never fails to mention corruption as a possible set back, thus making it part of its agenda. However, history has revealed that corruption is left at the same state or even worse at the time a government is leaving the corridors of powers. This therefore shows that the political will in fighting corruption is lacking, and the rule of law is promoted only by lip service. There may be agencies in place, but if the government of the day at the top is not ready to support and promote the fight as a moral and political force, then enforcement will be so difficult a task.

A strong political will capable of making corruption unattractive in Africa ensures:

Anti-corruption agencies fight corruption without impunity: There is the need to establish an agency or agencies where the members of the commission will be drawn from men of good repute, renowned/proven integrity, fearless, and of uncommon excellence; as one cannot fight corruption when one is corrupt.

In another vein, most corrupt officials are either the caucus in government, or the ones hobnobbing with the government. Hence, there should be no ‘sacred cows’ in the fight against corruption. When some public officials are given the notion that even when they are corrupt they can always get away with it, many will venture into being corrupt. Therefore, a strong political will ensures that there is no impunity in the fight.

Again, the issue of immunity from facing criminal charges for certain public servants appears to be a setback in the fight against corruption, as “the iron is best struck when it is hot”.

Also, the anti-corruption agencies should be sufficiently independent in carrying out their responsibilities devoid of any interference from any angle, most especially by the government of the day.

 
 
 
Source: today
 
 

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