The African continent has lagged behind in most facets of human development because its largest country, Nigeria, has remained in poverty due to fraudulent activities in public service, a leading anti-corruption campaigner said on Tuesday.
Patrick Lumumba, a former Director of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, said Nigerian leaders must do everything within their capacity to address endemic graft. This, he said, would refocus Africa on the path towards prosperity.
“Africa is behind because Nigeria has not realised her potential. It’s time the leaders rise up because one in every five Africans is a Nigerian.”
Mr Lumumba spoke at the two-day anti-corruption summit which began this Tuesday at the Nigerian Air Force Conference Centre in Abuja.
The program is put together by the National Assembly under the leadership of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Mr Lumumba, during the keynote speech, said it is time for Nigeria, and Africa as a whole, to abandon the culture of “punishing small thieves and electing big ones.”
Mr Lumumba, a professor of law, said Nigeria is a microcosm of Africa and, as such, cannot afford to keep getting it wrong.
“Behavioural change culture must be instilled in Nigeria,” Mr Lumumba said.
He said Nigeria must put in place a stringent mechanism that would effectively caution against corruption.
The three arms of government must strengthen and not undermine the institutions that are meant to fight corruption so that Nigeria can realise its potential, Mr Lumumba said.
“People must be made to know that if you reap where you have not sown there are consequences. Men only change their behaviours when there is a threat pain.”
The don called for a wholesome support for President Muhammadu Buhari in his war against corruption, especially on the need to build lasting institutions.
“Institutions are the heart of the fight against corruption but he will not succeed if the legislature is not behind him and the institutions are not strengthened.
“Because only institutions defy time and outlive those that live on graft.
Mr Saraki, in his opening remarks, said Nigeria had failed to seriously fight against corruption for more than 40 years. He said the National Assembly will work to partner with the Buhari administration for lasting solutions to the menace.