President Muhammadu Buhari in New York at the weekend urged African leaders to fight tirelessly to get rid of corruption, lamenting that the continent has remained at the far end of global development index because of its menace.
The president spoke in his capacity as the African Union champion on efforts to eliminate corruption in the continent at a High-Level side event on ‘’Food Security Response: Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Securing Asset Returns for Sustainable Development’‘, on the margins of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly.
Providing his perspectives on the effects of corruption in the continent and the way forward at the event co-hosted by African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian leader in a statement by Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina said he was honoured to serve as AU Champion on anti-corruption since 2018:
‘’As you are all aware, this will be my last official participation at the United Nations General Assembly as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘’I remain honoured and privileged to be president of Nigeria for two terms and I am grateful to the African Union for making me the continental organisation’s champion on efforts to eliminate corruption nationally and continent-wide.
‘’Over the years, we came to the painful realisation on how deeply embedded corruption has become in our countries and continent, as well as how corrosive it can be.
‘’Corruption has dwarfed our growth and tainted our nations and continent. Africa remains at the far end of development index and concerted efforts made in the last few years need to be sustained, deepened by good governance and accountability that are guided by the rule of law.
‘’I have strong faith that Africa and our national governments can do this with strong resolve and commitment to eliminating illicit financial flows. We need strong partnerships from our global partners to ensure that these efforts succeed. A developed and stable Africa will not only be a global partner for peace but for sustainable development and progress.’’
Buhari therefore challenged his colleagues that for the continent to rise to its full potentials, ‘’we must work tirelessly to get rid of corruption or by fighting it 24/7.’’
‘’Our national resources must not find safe-havens around the world. This fight is a necessity and not a choice to give our citizens a better life through economic prosperity, social peace and security,’’ he added.
The president urged his colleagues to recall the United Nations General Assembly Special Session Against Corruption political declaration of June 2021 and ensure its effective implementation toward global food security and sustainable infrastructural development in the continent.
On food security in Nigeria, the president disclosed that the Nigerian government has financed 2.5 million smallholder farmers to cultivate about 3.2 million hectares of farmland across the country, creating 10million direct and indirect jobs.
He also acknowledged programmes initiated by the AU and ECOWAS to address food security, apprising that at the federal level in Nigeria, the administration is working with state governments through initiatives such as the Anchor Borrowers Programme, to support local production of rice, maize, cotton and cassava.
He expressed delight that the implementation of such programmes has resulted in a significant decline in the country’s large food import bill, from $2.2billion Dollars in 2014 to $5.9million dollars at the end of 2018.
The president said rice imports alone dropped from $1billion dollars a year to $18.5million dollars.
Also, President Buhari has said with the renewed efforts of the Nigerian military, insecurity in Nigeria would soon be a thing of the past.
Speaking during an audience with the Prime Minister of Ireland, Michael Martin, President Buhari in a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina said, “In the past few months, with new platforms and boosted morale among the security forces, Nigeria is moving steadily in the direction of overcoming its insecurity. We will continue to partner with nations across the globe especially in the use of technology so that Nigeria can learn something useful.”
Buhari told the prime minister that with the experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was better for the world to work together rather than independently for enhanced progress for humanity, hoping that the lessons that came with the pandemic would impact on other areas so that Nigerians and indeed the world can have sustainable peace.
He assured his guest that Nigeria would continue to do its best to sustain the relationship with Ireland if not improve on it, especially on the level of education, knowing that many Nigerians are doing well in Ireland, schooling and working there.
Mr Micheal Martin had told the Nigerian leader that Ireland was looking for ways to increase the level of relations with the country, even as Nigeria remains Ireland’s largest trading partner in Africa.
He expressed hope that his country would move into other areas like the deployment of technology, to help Nigeria overcome its challenges in health and security.
He added that Europe and the world now need to look elsewhere for sources of energy as the war in Ukraine has highlighted.
In a separate meeting with the Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, President Buhari urged for a closer partnership with Nigeria in education, health, security as well as non-oil and gas sectors.
Stressing the importance of education and knowledge, President Buhari said the time has come to begin to look at practical ways of tackling health challenges that come without notice.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the President that “Greece possessed the technological know-how in security, surveillance, as well as intelligence gathering and utilisation and was in a position to assist Nigeria” noting that, “though technology is not cheap, it is the best way to go as there is no alternative to peace.”
He added that he will put together a business delegation with experts in health, education as well as oil and gas to visit and interface with the private sector in Nigeria to look at parameters under which they can come in. The prime minister extended an invitation to President Buhari to visit Greece before the end of his tenure.