The odious toga currently adorning Nigeria’s economic management profile, was further given expression yesterday in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, as the nation was said to have accounted for over 30.5 per cent of over one trillion illegal financial transactions on the international market within the last 10 years.
The illegal transactions, described as Illicit Financial Flow (IFF), saw two other countries- Egypt and South Africa, trailing Nigeria with 14.7 per cent and 11.4 per cent respectively on the scam chart.
Other countries involved in the IFF saga were Morocco, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to facilitators at pre-event media capacity building for African Development Forum VIII, led by Senior Regional Adviser, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Yinka Adeyemi, the IFFs were being carried out by Africans in cooperation with foreign nationals of developed nations, through corrupt practices by public and private officials, under taxation; over and fake invoicing; outright stealing; and illegal exploitation of natural resources, among other frosty deals.
The lead facilitator, who based the figures on the report of a panel set up by African leaders and headed by former South African President, Thambo Mbeki, said the current data – compiled in 2008 and yet to be officially released – are a tip of an iceberg, as the final reports are still being updated owing to new developments on the continent, especially the Arab Spring among others.
Adeyemi pleaded with the developed world must genuinely stop those moving funds illegally from Africa if they are indeed concerned about the continent’s underdevelopment status.
He noted that the developed countries are least concerned since “such illicit financial flow is not about hard drugs and aliens. If it concerns these issues, the developed countries will not keep quiet.”
He revealed that the ECA has developed an IFF web tracker, under an initiative of “tract it, stop it and get back the illicit money into Africa.”
According to him, for every illegal money leaving Africa, education, health and developmental programmes are being negatively impacted on.
Adeyemi and other facilitators, including Tunde Fagbenle of Punch Newspapers, Nigeria; Wynne Musabayana of African Union Commission; and a veteran journalist, Jenerali Ulimwengu, tasked journalists to join the war by exposing those involved in IFF.
He added that the concern of ECA, African Union and African Development Bank about the implications of IFF and sustainable development in Africa informed the training for journalists, as well as the sponsoring of the African Development Forum, with the theme- “Governing and harnessing natural resources for African Development”.
He added that sustainable development does not mean that those in government and the current generation “live well, but it involves plan and investment for the coming generations, especially those generations that would not meet the natural resources abundantly available in Africa, after they might have been totally exploited”.
Uliwengu, who moderated the capacity-building forum, said Africa cannot develop without engagements with other partners.
He added that in engaging with others, the rights of Africans must be protected, especially when signing agreements, for mutual benefits, stressing that media must enlighten the people about the confidential areas that do not favour the people.
According to him, African leaders must be vigilant and guide the press freedom flourishing across the continent as well as expose corruption, bad governance and tell those in government about the feelings of the people.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to AU and ECA, Paul Lolo, warned that people should be careful about quoting data, owing to the methods of gathering some data”.
However, he explained that Nigeria may feature prominently in a data of IFF nature because of the population, when compared with those of other countries in the continent.
Lolo also added that the Federal Government is also tackling some issues that might have been raised in the IFF through its transparency and accountability programmes.
However, he warned that “Nigerians who are taking money out to other countries to remember that today, they may have visas to go and enjoy in their mansions in foreign countries, but tomorrow things may change, as the home countries where such mansions are built may deny them visas to access those properties.”
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