9 July 2018

Namibia: Geingob Lauds Buhari Anti-Graft Crusade

Photo: Namibian Presidency/Twitter
Presidents Hage Geingob and Muhammadu Buhari.

Windhoek — President Hage Geingob has praised Nigerian leader Muhammadu Buhari for his continuous efforts to fight corruption in Nigeria, which is one of the top oil producers in Africa and had been synonymous with graft.

Nigeria's public service suffers from widespread corruption. The Nigerian government regulations are burdensome for businesses, and bribes and irregular payments are often exchanged.

Geingob made the complimentary remark when he paid a courtesy visit to Buhari at Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja last Wednesday.

Describing corruption as a "curse," he lauded the anti-corruption efforts of Buhari, and informed him he has undertaken similar efforts to fight corruption in Namibia.

The Daily Trust in Nigeria quoted Geingob as saying corruption is becoming a serious issue in Africa and "strong people" like Buhari are needed to eliminate it.

However, Buhari was quoted saying that it was difficult to fight corruption in a country with such a huge population and diverse ethnic groups as Nigeria.

Buhari said his government would dedicate some judges to handle corruption cases with a view to ensuring the prosecution of cases involving those guilty of graft.

Companies face a high risk of corruption when interacting with Nigeria's judiciary; it is characterized by a high degree of corruption and political interference.

According to the Nigeria Corruption Report, companies report that bribes to obtain favourable judgements are common.

It also states that Nigeria's constitution establishes an independent judiciary, but other branches of government frequently interfere with it, citing that nearly half of Nigerians perceive the judicial system to be corrupt.

It also states the judiciary is plagued by understaffing, underfunding, inefficiency and corruption whereby judges are susceptible to bribery and courts cannot be relied on for independent judgements. It concluded that judges and court officials are poorly remunerated and court documents are not digitized, which encourages corruption.

"So, we are winning (the fight against corruption), but it is very difficult under this multi-party democracy system. We are getting the cooperation of countries. We are trying to sell the assets wherever we find them and bring the money into the Nigerian treasury. This is all I can say at this stage because we are reorganising the judiciary," the Daily Trust quoted Buhari.

Geingob further emphasized the free movement of people as a crucial pillar in realising the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

Namibia has finally signed the trillion-dollar African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which requires members to remove tariffs from 90 percent of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022.

The proposal will come into force after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.

Geingob signed the much-anticipated trade agreement during the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) meeting at the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly held from July 1-2, in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

He is now expected to take it to Cabinet and thereafter the Trade Minister Tjekero Tweya will table it in the National Assembly for its adoption and ratification

Besides corruption, the two presidents also discussed at Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja bilateral cooperation in the areas of science and technology, tourism, business exchanges, investment and trade.

President Geingob thanked President Buhari for the warm and kind reception he had received.

Following the visit to Abuja, President Geingob travelled to Lagos where he was received by the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode.

President Geingob informed Governor Ambode about tourism and business opportunities that should be explored between Lagos State and Namibia.

"With Air Namibia flights recently introduced to Lagos, the opportunities are immense," Geingob said.

President Geingob travelled on Friday to Ogun State for the burial of "a mentor and outstanding friend of the United Nations Institute for Namibia (UNIN) and Namibia", Professor Adebayo Adedeji.

The President also participated in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) symposium honouring the memory of its iconic former Under-Secretary General, Professor Adedeji.

Adedeji, a one-time executive secretary of the Economic Commission of Africa who died on April 25, was laid to rest on Saturday, July 7.

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