Gabriel Chy Alonta
Former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, has called for a holistic and altruistic anti-corruption war in Nigeria and Africa, arguing that graft remains a cankerworm derailing socio-economic and political development in the continent.
Mkapa, made the call while speaking as a guest lecturer at the 7th annual lecture and posthumous birthday of Nigeria foremost nationalist and first president, Dr. Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, organized by the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra state.
Speaking on the topic, “Taming the monster of corruption in Africa”, Mkapa, declared that “fight against corruption should be all inclusive” to bear good fruits. He cautioned that “corruption is deadly to good governance, a threat to democracy and rule of law, it diminishes the capacity for development of facilities, erodes trust in the rule of law and a threat in a multi ethnic society like Nigeria.
“The culture of fairness, justice, equity and equality is also affected in a corrupt society”, he adds.
The former Tanzanian president who described Nnamdi Azikiwe as icon of African democracy, whose footsteps should be emulated by African leaders, also stressed that greed for power or selfishness was the major cause of corruption. According to him, there is need to develop the right strategies, partnership with relevant ministries and stakeholders as well as operate transparent budget implementation for the anti-corruption war to bear desired fruits.
Mkapa also canvassed for bottom-top institutional reform to ensure that fairness prevails, establishment of a common standard of morality, entrenching integrity, noting that it would help to wipe out corruption, even as he added that corruption was enemy of justice.
In a remark, the chairman of the occasion and Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Bukola Saraki, while recalling Zik’s role in securing independence for Nigeria, added that “he fought for our people to be free from the slavery and his contributions cannot be forgotten.
Saraki said that there was need to work together as a nation to strive and lift Nigeria from Her present plight, noting that Zik used his intellectual to power Africans together, adding that it was fitting to follow his footsteps. “Corruption is a problem not just for us as a nation but also as a continent and we have to tackle it with all honesty, sincerity and great sense of purpose”, he said.
He identified impunity, lack of rule of law and financial misappropriation as forms of corruption, calling for concerted efforts to curb them.
The benefactor of Zik’s lecture series, Sen Ben Obi, while thanking the dignitaries that graced the occasion, said that the lectures was a worthwhile initiative in honour of great Zik of Africa.
The former governor of Anambra state and the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the forthcoming 2019 general election, Mr. Peter Obi, said one cannot discuss any issue in Nigeria and Africa without mentioning corruption, calling for aggressive fight to the disease.
Obi, who said corruption kills hard work, entrepreneurship and professionalism, added that everyone is guilty of the disease of corruption in Nigeria. He said that the present administration was only shouting about corruption without dealing with it, pointing out that Nigeria had risen from 136 to 148 in the corruption index under the current government, a situation, he described as worrisome.
Earlier, the vice chancellor of UNIZIK, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, said Zik played the role of building and galvanizing the bulwark against colonialism in Africa his unrelenting efforts towards restoring the dignity of the blackman.
Ahaneku described the theme of the lecture as quite germane especially in an era where poverty indices in the nations of Africa have plummeted to alarming proportions, noting that it had resulted from the humongous sums of money lost to corruption. He, who said that the fight against corruption should be total as encapsulated in the programmes of the present Federal Government of Nigeria, added that it was a rare opportunity to learn from distilled experiences in the monumental task of extirpating corruption.
In a vote of thanks, the wife of Zik, Mrs. Uche Azikiwe, said the family always look forward to the day and added that fighting corruption is not good for the country.