All attention was drawn to the United Kingdom as heads of state from across the world pledged to address corruption in their respective countries with the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit hosted by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron last week.
Cameron started off on a controversial note when he was overheard describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as ”fantastically corrupt countries.” Bilateral relations between Nigeria and the U.K., though, did not become strained because Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari further buttressed the prime minister’s assertion.
By Thursday, when the summit ended, all 126 countries resolved to implement the international standard for the exchange of tax information on request.
“If we want to beat poverty, if we want to beat extremism and narrow the gap between the richest countries in the world and the poorest countries in the world, we have to tackle corruption,” Cameron stated.
But even as the war against terrorism is being fought head on, concerns are rife over the impact the London summit will have on the deep rooted bane of corruption across the world, particularly in Africa since the practice is feared to have eaten into every corner of the continent’s socio-political system.
The Independent recently published an article on the relevance of the just ended Anti-Corruption Summit, stating, “For a start, it is all about perceived corruption in the public sector. It is not about tax policy or tax competition. It is not about adherence to the rule of law. It is not even about personal corruption, either of individuals or corporations. People who bundle a whole host of other social or economic objectives into a general anti-corruption pot are doing a disservice. You will achieve much more if you focus. Fix the public sector and other things will follow.”
In fact, Nigeria’s first finance minister in the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, also argued during an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN that corruption remains a social proclivity deeply rooted in the minds and culture of people. According to the renowned economist, corruption can best be eradicated not just through the signing of papers and the shaking of hands, but through the resolve to improve the social systems of a country providing the needed infrastructure for economic growth.
But even as the debate on how corruption can be tackled in Africa rages on, it remains to be seen whether the summit can help tackle one of the world’s most-gravest challenges.