Addis Ababa — President Muhammadu Buhari declared that Nigeria was committed to fighting corruption forever.
President Buhari emphasised that the country remained committed to the anti-corruption war "today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow."
He spoke in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he launched the African Anti-corruption Year 2018 during the opening of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, with the theme "Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa's Transformation."
President Buhari described corruption as one of the greatest evils of the time which "rewards those who do not play by the rules and also creates a system of distortion and diversion thereby destroying all efforts at constructive, just and fair governance."
He said despite the sustained economic growth on the continent for the past two decades, public confidence had been eroded by a focus on short-term priorities and payoffs propelled by corruption which, according to him, often leaves projects uncompleted and promises unfulfilled.
Buhari said corruption posed a real threat to national security as well as eroded the development of a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, human rights, justice and the rule of law.
"It is evident that corruption has a devastating impact on marginalized communities especially the youth, women and children. Corruption breeds unequal societies, renders vulnerable groups prone to human trafficking, as well as recruitment into armed groups and militia. In effect, corruption deprives our young citizens of opportunities to develop meaningful livelihoods," he added.
President Buhari called on African leaders to build synergy between the executive, judiciary and legislature in order to entrench good governance, transparency and accountability.
The president stressed that in order to win the war against corruption, anti-graft agencies must be empowered and insulated from political influence.
Noting that the manifestation of corruption in Africa was a demonstration of the need for strong leadership, he said tackling corrupt acts and greed requires a reorientation of attitudes and perceptions, saying "To win the fight against corruption, we must have a change of mindset."
He said his priorities in the anti-graft campaign in 2018 included organising African Youth Congresses against Corruption to sensitise and engage youths in the fight, mobilising AU member states to implement the extant legal framework on corruption as well as canvassing 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.
President Buhari, who told the AU leaders that the anti-graft war would not be an easy task as corruption does fight back, however, urged them to remain firm and resolute.
He promised to do his best to ensure that the anti-corruption agenda receives the attention it deserves and makes the impact all Africans hope for, this 2018 and beyond.