African Heads of State met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January under the auspices of the African Union (AU) 2018 Summit with the gathering breaking new grounds at least compared to past summits that yielded less impressive dividends. Of particular significance was the adoption of a new Agenda 2063 which is intended to launch the continent into a new era of sustainable development. While several initiatives in the past had similar objectives and still failed, the present Agenda 2063 in anchored on the specific success factor of addressing corruption and its ills on the continent. This was reflected in the summit’s theme.
Hence the thrust of the agenda rests on fighting corruption in governance and pubic life in the various African countries. A major highlight of that dispensation was the unanimous selection of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari as the arrow head of the anti-corruption crusade. Many believe his appointment was informed by the resolute commitment with which he has been prosecuting the same campaign in Nigeria. It is therefore expected that he will bring to bear the same commitment with which he has been tackling the Nigerian situation to the continental arena.
According to the AU, Agenda 2063 “is a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.” The caveat here is that the continental body seems to have rightly identified corruption as a major culprit that needs to be addressed frontally. For it goes without saying that with respect to governance in Africa, the scourge of corruption remains a defining factor in the public sector of many countries. Agenda 2063 therefore has its challenges defined for it even before its take off.
Nevertheless Agenda 2063 is intended to build on several past development initiatives such as the Lagos Plan of Action, The Abuja Treaty, The Minimum Integration Programme, the Programme for Infrastructural Development in Africa (PIDA), Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Regional Plans and Programmes and National Plans. It is also built on national, regional, continental best practices in its formulation.
This is where the focus on corruption as a debilitating factor that must be addressed frontally remains well placed, as the failure or poor dividends from the previous initiatives are traceable to the play out of endemic corruption in governance in these African countries. Corruption in Africa is usually more pronounced than is often realised especially when the wider definition of the syndrome is concerned. While corruption is often restricted to financial malfeasances, in its classical context corruption refers to any instance of distortion of orderliness in the conduct of any activity either private or public. For African countries to escape the vicious grip of corruption and allow Agenda 2063 fly, they must redefine their appreciation of corruption in its wider classical context. For while the leadership of many of these African countries may still be fixated on the narrow definition of the syndrome their followers may have progressed beyond them and therefore expect more.
With his appointment as champion of the AU Anti Corruption fight Buhari has a most unenviable brief cut out for him. Yet he needs to see his mission as that of a deliverer for the continent. The appointment has placed him on the continental stage where his performance will rub off the country either positively or otherwise. That notwithstanding it is the duty of the various African Heads of State to see the challenge of fighting corruption as a matter of necessity for their various countries and the continent as a whole. It is not for nothing that US President Donald Trump referred to African countries as shithole nations. In other words he was referring to them as irredeemably corrupt.