The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari and other African leaders to focus on human capital first before fighting corruption.
Mr Kagame said this on Tuesday at a one-day National Democracy Day Anti-corruption Summit organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.
The summit, themed “Curbing Electoral Spending: A panacea to Public Corruption”, held at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
In attendance, were guests from the diplomatic community and government, including the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame; U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington; Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ketil Karlsen; Nigerian state governors and some of their predecessors; former ministers; military and paramilitary chiefs; among many others.
While speaking, the Rwandan president showered Nigeria with praises, describing the most populous African race as the engine room of Africa’s potential.
”Nigeria has always had a strong common course of Africa’s progress and prosperity and this has not gone unnoticed; this country is truly the engine of Africa’s potential. This is how we see Nigeria,” Mr Kagame said.
”We stand in solidarity with your efforts to build on your assets in which this country has been blessed and we are impressed in your success, achievements of your sons and daughters both home and abroad, (which) make our continent proud,” he added.
He further said African leaders should focus more on human development before going after corrupt leaders in the fight against corruption.
Mr Kagame noted that, “While focusing on fighting corruption in our daily life we turn a blind eye to the more consequential forms that people only whisper about because the rich and the powerful are the main beneficiaries.”
He said declining trust in a democratic process, leaves a cynical citizenry that is easily manipulated by politics and it is therefore just as urgent as fighting economic corruption.
“This is a fight that can be won. Tolerating corruption is a choice, not an inevitability. It is within our power to end it. That is the most important starting point, otherwise, it will be a waste of time for us to keep talking about it.”
He, however, accused African leaders of making corruption attractive, making it a norm and a way of life to the general public.
The Rwandan president added that ”the rich are the main beneficiaries of corruption’.
He said corruption needs to be tackled from the top-down.
According to him, in overcoming corruption, there are about four key principles – culture, responsibility accountability, and effectiveness.
Africa’s corruption myth
Mr Kagame pushed for the eradication of the myth that corruption was born in Africa, as it is a universal weakness
He further said research had shown that the biggest beneficiaries of corruption are outside of Africa.
“We must discard the myth that corruption is endemic to a particular culture. Corruption is a universal weakness, not an African one.
“Research has shown that some of the biggest beneficiaries of corruption are outside of Africa and this has always been the case.
“It is time to redefine transparency as a global objective that requires us all to work together.”
He also said the purpose of transparency is not to impress others but rather to make our society better because that is what our people expect
“Without transparency, it is impossible to earn and keep the trust of the people and without trust, we would not be able to effectively use national worth to make a measurable improvement (on) the wellbeing of our citizens.”