Africa needs leaders with strong will to fight corruption- Rwanda President Kagame
By Taiwo Adelu
London, June 12, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Rwanda President, Paul Kagame has emphasised the need for African leaders to put up a courageous political will as a weapon to fight the cankerworm of corruption on the black continent.
Kagame is on a two-day visit to Nigeria as a Guest Speaker at the Anti-Corruption Summit in Abuja on Tuesday at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, and to attend the National Democracy Day celebration on the invitation of President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
The Anti Corruption Summit with the theme: “Curbing Electoral Spending: A Panacea to Public Corruption” is put together by Nigeria’s anti graft agency, Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) as part of the event to mark the maiden National Democracy Day celebration in Nigeria
Kagame told his audience who included President Buhari, National Leader of All Progressive Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu and others that corruption would have been better fought and reduced to its barest minimum in Africa if the leaders can leave above board and have the determination to fight the battle.
He said: “Corruption needs to be tackled from the top down. This is not only the fairest approach, it is also the most effective, because it empowers the public to join the fight and hold leaders accountable, through elections and other means
“In that way, corruption can definitely be reduced to the minimum possible and that makes a tremendous difference. However, it also takes careful organisation and messaging to make this practice widespread.
“This is a campaign that can be won. Tolerating corruption is a choice not inevitability. It is within our power to end it. That is the most important starting point. Otherwise, it would be a waste of time for us to keep talking about it.
“The primary responsibility to act lies with leaders at every level. Where corruption has become the norm, a way of life, it is because leaders have made it that way
“We tend to focus on the petty corruption of everyday life while turning a blind eye to the more consequential forms that people only whisper about, because the rich and powerful are the main beneficiaries.
According to the former military leader in Rwanda, “Overcoming corruption is really about four key principles: Culture, responsibility, accountability, and effectiveness. We must discard the myth that corruption is endemic to particular cultures.
“Corruption is a universal weakness, not an African one, and it is not part of our destiny as a continent. Indeed, research has shown that some of the biggest sources and beneficiaries of corruption are outside of Africa, and this has always been the case.
“When somebody gives you addictive drugs with one hand, and offers the cure with the other, it is not altruism, but a form of control that encourages passivity.
“In the absence of a politics that values individual integrity, even well-established institutions are not enough to deter wrongdoing, as has been demonstrated by repeated scandals in advanced economies at the top of international transparency rankings.
“That is why it is past time to redefine transparency as a global objective that requires us all to work together with mutual respect.
To Kagame, who has been President of Rwanda since 2000, “Corruption does not take decades to eradicate. Huge gains can be made relatively quickly, once we decide to break the habit. That brings me to responsibility. This principle is inherent to our respective cultures in Africa.
“We are in charge of our own future. The purpose of transparency is not to impress others, but rather to make our own societies better, because that is what our people expect. The third and fourth foundation stones are accountability and effectiveness.
“Without transparency, it is impossible to earn and keep the trust of the people. And without trust we will not be able to effectively use national wealth to make measurable improvements to the well-being of our citizens.
“We have to set our sights high. It is not enough to “fight corruption” just as merely “fighting poverty” is too small an ambition for Africa. We want to create value and wealth not merely fighting corruption.”
On the experience of his country in the fight against corruption and achieving lasting peace in a country that had faced long years of war, Kagame said: “Our liberation struggle in Rwanda and in Africa more generally, has always been based on the ideals of eliminating discrimination, entrenching good governance and ensuring all citizens benefit equally from nation-building.
“As a new government, the turning point in Rwanda’s peace-building process came after months of intense national consultations. Out of this dialogue, key institutions were created to foster transparency and lay the foundation for a sound national fiscal base.
“These included the Rwanda Revenue Authority, the Auditor General, the Ombudsman, as well as home-grown solutions such as performance contracts signed by officials at every level known as “imihigo”.
“We must make sure that these institutions and mechanisms actually work. They are created to give us results,” he said.
Kagame, a former rebel leader in Rwanda showered encomiums on Nigeria and her people, saying that other Africa countries recognised the place and position of Nigeria
“I would like to call to mind the greatness of this nation. The diversity, creativity and ambition of Nigerians represent Africa. The achievements of Nigeria’s sons and daughters here at home and in your global Diaspora make our continent proud.
“Nigeria has always shown common cause with Africa’s progress and prosperity and this does not go unnoticed. This country is truly the engine of Africa’s potential. This is how we see Nigeria. I hope you know that”We stand in solidarity with your efforts to build on all the assets with which this country has been blessed and we are invested in your success,” he said.