The fight against global corruption starts in Abuja


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Stories of financial corruption can dazzle with the vast sums of money involved, but this is a distraction from the real damage: the human costs of corruption.

More than $1tn is thought to be siphoned out of developing countries each year, which, if taxed, could fund essential services such as schools and health. This global phenomenon touches all corners of the world and all peoples. All countries have a responsibility to act.

This is certainly the case for developing countries. As a leading African economy Nigeria must play a pivotal role in the fight against corruption.

The May 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit in London is an important opportunity to fix the broken global system. In preparation, ONE, in partnership with the Nigerian Government and the Open Society Institute for West Africa, will host Nigeria’s own Anti-Corruption Summit in Abuja, the capital.

Nigeria has made great progress towards transparency. This has accelerated since president Muhammadu Buhari proclaimed a “war against corruption” in 2015. The president has declared his personal assets and is encouraging his government to pursue corrupt former ministers.

This is an important first step. The Nigerian Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative Act (NEITI) has also seen real success, including the $2.4bn of missing payments recovered for the government.

But there is still much more to do.

Nigeria accounts for more than 30 percent of early childhood deaths from malaria, while only 41 percent of children in Nigeria receive routine vaccinations. With oil prices low, Nigeria needs to recover revenues to invest in solutions for these problems.

Nigeria should vigorously pursue the repatriation of assets derived by corrupt means such as money laundering, bribery and tax evasion. These funds often find their way to financial capitals such as London, New York, Paris, and Dubai. Countries holding these assets should do all they can to help Nigeria get the money back.

For its part, Nigeria’s government should commit fully to investing repatriated funds to improve the lives of the poorest. Any public procurement should be conducted in an open and transparent way. When citizens can follow the money, the money is more likely to provide what citizens need.

When secrecy is the norm, it leaves the door open for money to be funneled via Panamanian shell companies into Swiss bank accounts to buy luxury flats in London, rather than to pay for schools and hospitals in Nigeria.

Source : thisisafricaonline