Abuja — Nigeria and other African countries have been estimated to be losing over $50 billion annually as a result of corruption, money laundering and other criminal activities.
The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, stated this on Monday in Abuja at the eighth Commonwealth Regional Conference for Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa (ACA).
Osinbajo who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the occasion, said much had been lost and still being lost in Nigeria and the African continent as a result of corruption.
He stressed that while the public sector has been the major focus of anti-corruption drive, the private sector is one of the main enabler and equally enmeshed in all manner of corrupt practices.
According to him, the public-private sector collaboration is one of the most complex web of corruption to deal with.
"Developing countries loses over $1 trillion annually due to corporate theft. Africa loses more than $50 billion annually to corruption and most of these come from the extractive industry," he said.
Speaking further, Osinbajo called for more transparency among commonwealth countries with regards to warehousing the proceeds from corruption by ensuring that ill-gotten wealth does not find a "safe haven".
"African countries must come together to keep the issue of assets recovery on the front burner and embrace information sharing in the fight against corruption," he said.
He also disclosed that the additional $300 million of Abacha loot that would be released by Switzerland would be channelled to social programmes like the conditional cash transfer scheme and N-Power initiative.
The vice president further called for cooperation from the G-7 as well as commonwealth countries to follow suit in opening a global register for individuals behind the Panama Papers shell companies.
In the same vein, the Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, described corruption as a ravenous storm and Tsunami trying to tear the foundation of most developing countries.
Scotland said: "Over the next four days, we will be seeking to meet the challenge of another, equally ferocious, ravenous storm, although it takes a different form - that of corruption which robs our children of the funds needed to fund schools which meets their talents and their parents aspirations.
She also noted that corruption robs the children "the food they need to grow strong to meet development and educational milestones which they crave and need to prosper in order to meet the challenges of this exciting millennium with its complexities and technological explosion which is striving to keep pace with the growth and expectation of a more demanding and ecologically more ravenous era to deliver the sustainable solutions with which to regenerate our world - this common earth which we jointly inhabit; and provide the housing, infrastructure, energy, and fair systems which will see them clear their tender years into a prosperous and safe future, to a more bountiful and generous old age."
To this end, she challenged the heads of anti-corruption agencies to seek innovative ways to meet this challenge, saying: "You are leading the fight against this Tsunami. You are the early warning mechanisms, the rapid responders, mobilisers, you put in place necessary, critical measures that enable us to build back better."
Also speaking, the former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, decried the fact that the involvement of African leaders in corrupt practices is demeaning to the offices of the Head of States and Government.
Gowon remarked that there was nothing like corruption during his time that was why he was penniless after his overthrow while at an Organisation of African Union (OAU) meeting where he had to be rescued by his erstwhile staff who contributed their estacodes for his upkeep.
He said he feel pained when all African leaders are painted with same brush as "corrupt"
Also speaking, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who described the late General Sani Abacha as a terrorists recounted his efforts at retrieving as at that time, the sum of $1 million he was alleged to have donated to an unnamed head of state.
According to Soyinka: "We've been bled dry in this nation by corrupt leadership, and you must help us recover the loots still flying out there."
To this, the former South African President, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, demanded: "Our anti-corruption agencies must be at the centre of the efforts to ensure that we retain within our continent the resources we need for our development, which are exported through corrupt practices."
Earlier, the Acting Chairman of the Economic Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, commended both Buhari and Osinbajo as champions of anti-corruption who have given the agency free reign to exercise their powers.
Magu said the president has given the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria, unrestrained support, qualified only by his insistence that the anti-corruption war be carried out under the strict, unyielding guidance of the law.
"There has never been a more focused leadership anywhere in Africa focused on the fight against corruption than the current leadership in Nigeria," he said.
Meanwhile, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, urged the anti-corruption agencies to carry the masses along in addition to having the political will.
Onnoghen also assured: "On behalf of the judiciary that we are here to help to sustain the efforts of bringing corruption to the barest minimum."