The United Nations, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has commended Nigeria’s leading role in the fight against corruption in Africa.
Guterres made the commendation in his remarks at high-level debate marking the 15th anniversary of adoption of UN Convention Against Corruption in New York.
The secretary-general pointed out that through Nigeria’s anti-money laundering efforts, stolen funds had been returned.
Guterres said, “African countries have taken a leading role in moving this agenda forward in the last AU Summit.
“And with measures as for example through anti-money laundering efforts in Nigeria and Tunisia, which have seen funds returned.”
He said if governments were serious about doing the best for their citizens, then pledges to promote integrity and clamp down on corruption must be more than campaign promises and words on paper.
“Millions will go to the polls this year with corruption high on their agenda. I make an urgent call to our global leadership to take a moral stand and install a culture of integrity from the top down.
“It all begins with setting an example. By tackling corruption, governments can show they mean business. We must all do more.”
According to him, those who can least afford corruption suffer the most adding, corruption cripples economic development, stifles entrepreneurship and deters investment.
Continuing, Guterres said, “Society cannot function equitably and efficiently when public officials – from doctors to police, judges and politicians – enrich themselves rather than perform their duties with integrity. “Corruption robs funds from schools, hospitals, infrastructure and other vital services.
“Human trafficking and migrant smuggling, illicit financial flows and illegal trade in natural resources, weapons, drugs and cultural heritage are all made possible because of corruption.
“It fuels conflict, and when a hard-won peace is achieved, corruption undermines recovery. Corruption and impunity are corrosive, breeding frustration and fostering further corruption when people see no other way of achieving their goals.”
The UN chief added that the lack of opportunities for young women and men, often exacerbated in corrupt societies, could feed into the cynical narratives of terrorists and violent extremists.