ADDRESS BY H.E MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AND CHAMPION OF THE 2018 AFRICAN ANTI-CORRUPTION YEAR ON THE LAUNCH OF THE AFRICA YOUTH CONGRESS AGAINST CORRUPTION (AYCAC2018), STATE HOUSE CONFERENCE CENTRE, ABUJA, 9TH DECEMBER, 2018
I want to specially thank the African Union under the able leadership of our Chairperson, His Excellency, Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and all African Leaders for entrusting me with the leadership responsibility of championing the African Union theme of the Year – “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”
2. May I also extend my gratitude to the African Union Commission headed by Chairperson, His Excellency, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for providing the technical support to my Champion-role for the past twelve (12) months.
3. Excellencies, the anti-corruption year of the African Union has been long and demanding. The year has also been filled with sharing of great lessons, promises and inspirations as well as some success stories on our journey to winning the fight against the evil of corruption. I am therefore very pleased that with your support, we have kept faith with the African people, particularly our Youth gathered here today.
4. Throughout this year, we have focused the strategy for Africa’s structural transformation on strengthening our collective anti-corruption fight.
5. As African leaders, we made history in adopting this theme in January 2018 in Addis Ababa and openly debated and evaluated our strategy in Nouakchott last July. And today in Nigeria’s capital with our Youth, we are rallying against this once-hidden taboo and hydra-headed challenge that freezes our aspirations and dents the hopes of our youth for a newly emergent Africa.
6. During the mid-year summit of the African Union Assembly, African Heads of State and Government adopted the Nouakchott Declaration on the Anti-Corruption Year, to serve as a roadmap in the fight against corruption over the coming years. The Declaration reiterated that corruption is not only an African phenomenon but a global one, especially when we consider Illicit Financial Flows where Africa, regrettably is in fact a net creditor to the world.
7. To the young people of Africa, this fight against corruption is yours to lead and to win in order to reverse the negative trends of corruption and it’s implications for Africa.
8. The Youth of Africa must pool their energies to effectively ensure that our natural and mineral resources remain on the continent for value addition, job and wealth creation as well as to create affordable health-care and quality education for our people. Winning the fight against corruption is very much in your hands!
9. Of particular interest to the youth, as reflected in the Nouakchott Declaration, is the emphasis on the imperative of investing in the demographic dividends through anti-corruption, education and sensitization campaigns, targeting young people as a means of bringing about behavioral change.
10. I thereby encourage young Africans, to use this Declaration as motivation to achieve greater resource investment in developing anti-corruption curricula and anti-graft campaigns in schools, businesses and the general public space.
11. African Youth must remain the front and centre of restoring traditional African values of probity, integrity, honesty, diligence and hard work. It is only when the youth drive this change, that corruption will be eliminated!
12. Your Excellencies, African Youth Representatives, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as a build up to this youth congress, l was briefed by the African Union Commission on the African Governance Architecture (AGA)-organized Regional Youth Consultations, dedicated to the Anti-Corruption theme of the year.
13. I am pleased to learn that the youth regional consultative forums were informative and rewarding for the over 600 young people from across the continent who sharpened their strategies and skills to fight corruption.
14 Furthermore, Youth meetings serve as vital platforms for young people to engage. I would like to recognize some of our young leaders here present who have demonstrated the zeal and determination to build the “Africa We Want”:
15. First, I wish to recognize Mr. Moussa Kondo from Mali for his Accountability Lab in the Republic of Mali. He blazed the trail on how to build sustainable coalitions of “Accountapreneurs”.
16. Secondly, I recognize, Mr. Maxence Melo, from the United Republic of Tanzania, founder of Jamii Forums for strengthening the viability of whistleblowing policy tools.
17. I also enjoin us to celebrate our very own Nigerian – Damilola Olawale, founder of Code IT for using technology to give young people the tools to demand transparency in the management of public resources.
18. These young people have done impressive work in pushing the boundaries of innovation in the pursuit for greater accountability. And so today, we celebrate them and indeed we celebrate all of you – anti-corruption youngsters. You are the unsung heroes of our thematic year of the African Union, the high-impact achievers. You are the REAL AFRICAN CHAMPIONS!
19. This Congress is therefore a grand rallying point to catalyze policy and practical action against the vice of corruption. We must listen to the perspectives of the African Youth and engage in frank and honest conversations. Communication, upwards and sideways can only be ignored at a price.
20. I am most pleased to observe that this Abuja Congress will take adequate stock of policy and institutional mechanisms in the fight against corruption as well as the role of technology amongst others.
21. I am confident that you will give due support to the continental strategies to: stem illicit financial flows out of Africa; expedite stolen assets recovery and return; strengthen the capacity of national anti-corruption institutions; explore the link between corruption and conflicts; strengthen oversight by citizens on budget performance.
22. You should also strongly advocate the universal signing and ratification of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption by all Member States of the African Union.
23. At the end of your deliberations in this Congress, I am confident that you will come up with an Agenda for Action on Winning the Fight against Corruption that will serve as the rallying cry of the African Youth towards a corruption-free Africa. Strive for an Agenda for Action that will be results-oriented and serve as a roadmap for our continent.
24. Let me share with you what I believe are the A, B, C of fighting corruption:
“A” stands for ACTION. Let us all move from talk to action. I urge you to develop tangible projects in your community to instil transparency and accountability of the highest standard. I look forward to receiving your Creed of Transparency from this Congress with a view to forwarding the recommendations to the next Summit of the African Union in February next year.
“B” stands for BUILDING BRIDGES. The youth have a unique opportunity to spearhead the building of inter-generational and cross-sectoral bridges in our various communities. Often, fighting corruption requires partnerships with unlikely allies. Be open to exploring constructive partnerships with a wide base of actors. Again, I look forward to all of you joining the Transparency Champions Network that was created following the Regional Youth Consultations.
“C” stands for CULTURE. So, let us cultivate and equip ourselves with African culture, right attitude and mindset change that will enable us to stand firmly against corruption. By so doing, accountability and change will begin with you and me.
25. My Highly Esteemed Young brothers and sisters from all over Africa, I believe that as we wind up the African Union Anti-Corruption Year, the young people across the continent remain the cornerstone of shaping the future of the fight against corruption. While our symbolic year may be ending, our campaign must not end, for our common future is even brighter.
26. As Africa promotes regional integration and global prosperity, corruption remains a major stumbling block to the realization of the seven (7) aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
27. We must therefore fight it from all angles and avenues without ceasing. And only a united front led by the African Youth can change this present narrative to a great story of African transformation.
28. Finally, permit me to leave you with a quote from the late Nigerian anti-corruption crusader Gani Fawehinmi, who said:
“You do not justify your crime by a defence that there are other criminals”.
29. I therefore urge you all to challenge corruption in your different countries as we are doing in Nigeria and DO NOT COMPROMISE!!
I thank you for you attention.
God bless Africa!.