Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa says corruption is a global phenomenon and not restricted to Nigeria as being projected by international anti-corruption agencies and the western media.
He noted with regret that corruption in African countries, especially Nigeria, is being exaggerated to attract undue global attention. He insisted that some western countries are more corrupt than most countries in Africa.
This was contained in his keynote speech delivered at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University on Friday during the 7th Zik’s annual lecture series held at the university’s auditorium.
The topic of the lecture is ‘Taming the Monster of Corruption in Africa.’
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The event was attended by Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who was the chairman of the occasion, Vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Peter Obi, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, represented by Mr. Obidigwe, Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu and Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister for Science and Technology; Senator Andy Uba, members of the National Assembly, royal fathers including the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, Obi Gibson Nwosu, the benefactor of Zik’s annual lecture, Senator Ndi Obi among others.
Mkapa commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for his fight against corruption. He described corruption as deadly to good governance and a threat to democracy and rule of law.
He said corruption diminishes the capacity for development of facilities, erodes trust in the rule of law and is a threat to a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria.
He noted that greed for power was the major cause of corruption and explained how he tamed the monster of corruption when he was the president of Tanzania, adding that the culture of fairness, justice and equity are being affected in a corrupt society.
“The fight against corruption should be all inclusive. There is the need to develop the right strategies, partner with ministries and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and be financially disciplined. There should be public awareness on the dangers of corruption, media should report corruption without fear or favour. With all these in place, the war against corruption in any country can be won”
Chairman of the occasion and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki recalled Zik’s contributions to Nigeria independence, adding that Zik fought for Nigeria’s freedom from slavery which he said could not be forgotten in a jiffy.
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Saraki pointed out the need to work together as a nation to lift Nigeria from its present state of economic woes,
noting that Zik used his intellectual to unite Africans. He averred that corruption is a problem not just for Nigeria as a nation but also as a continent, stressing the need to tackle it with honesty and every sense of purpose.
His words: “Dr. Azikiwe never stopped speaking for Nigerians, for Africans and for black people all over the world.
He was a light for the black race. In the context of the independence struggles of African nations, nationalism was the driving ideology that propelled the quest for self-determination, and Azikiwe was at the forefront of that struggle for a free and prosperous Africa.”
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku, said Zik of Africa played the role of building the bulwark against colonialism in Africa and restoring the dignity of black man.
He highlighted the import of the Zik’s annual lecture to the university, saying that it provided opportunities to ruminate on the ideals and legacies of the Great Zik of Africa and how it could be leveraged on to build the ethno-religious and cultural African states into vibrant nations.
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 in the humongous sums of money lost to corruption.
He said: “We, particularly those of us in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, bestowed with the great honour of bearing his name, shall not get tired of remembering, with immense pride, the inspiring role he played in building and galvanizing the bulwark against colonialism in Africa\ and his unrelenting efforts towards restoring the dignity of the black man.”
Former governor of Anambra state and the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr.
Peter Obi, regretted that corruption in Nigeria is being fought as an economic policy, rather than a cankerworm.
He said corruption kills hard work, entrepreneurship and professionalism which, according to him, every Nigerian
is guilty of. He said that the present administration was only shouting corruption without dealing with it, pointing out that Nigeria had risen from 136 to 148 in the corruption index under the current administration, a situation, he described as worrisome.
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The Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna, said the choice of the topic was apt, because,
as most speakers said, without fighting corruption, Nigeria and other African countries would continue to lag behind in development.
Wife of late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Prof. Uche Azikiwe and the benefactor of Zik’s lecture series, Senator Ben Obi commended the participants, especially the dignitaries, remarking that the lecture was a worthwhile initiative in
honour of the great Zik of Africa.
Among those that had delivered lectures at the Annual Zik Lecture in the past are former President of Ghana, Flit
Lt. Jerry Rawlings, former vice president of Kenya, Mr. Raila Odinga, former vice president of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku
Abubakar, president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, former Edo State governor and current national chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.