President Muhammadu Buhari has called on heads of anti-corruption agencies in Africa to adopt fresh measures that will prevent corrupt acts through risk assessment strategies.
Mr Buhari gave the advice on Monday at the State House conference centre, Abuja, when he declared open a training programme on Corruption Risk Assessment (CRA) for heads and senior officials of Anti-Corruption Agencies in the African Union.
He said the training was organised at the instance of his administration as part of its support for the war against corruption in the continent.
Mr Buhari said it is being facilitated by the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria (ACAN), the research and training arm of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
“The fight against corruption is a battle for the souls of our different countries and it is one that we must win. Since independence, our continent has suffered from the severe consequences of corruption and it is imperative that we take steps to reverse the trend,” he said.
Mr Buhari said when he assumed office in May 2015, “the pervasive nature and devastating impact of corruption on the Nigerian nation had become dysfunctional.”
He said his victory at the polls was a revolt of the people against glaring endemic corruption.
The Nigerian president said he has implemented a lot of strategies to combat corruption, adding that the best way to eliminate the scourge is through prevention.
He said it is the quest to build robust preventive systems that necessitated the initiative, which aims to train leaders of anti-corruption agencies in the African Union to deploy Corruption Risk Assessment Methodology for corruption prevention in their countries.
“Corruption Risk Assessment seeks to identify corruption-prone processes and procedures in organisations and recommend appropriate remedial steps. The methodology places a premium on prevention as an effective complement to enforcement in the war against corruption,” he said.
Mr Buhari said that in 2016, through support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria acquired the capacity to conduct training on Corruption Risk Assessment. Since then, he said, the academy has conducted a number of these training.
He said to showcase the growing appreciation of CRA as a tool for preventing corruption, the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria has received a request for the training of Corruption Risk Assessors for ECOWAS countries from the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.
Mr Buhari said it is equally heartwarming that most countries have subscribed to not only the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), but also to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC).
He said the Abuja event offered a good opportunity to encourage the few countries which are yet to ratify the African Union Convention to expedite processes to do so.
“No efforts can be too much as we seek to rid our societies of the evil of corruption,” he said.
Mr Buhari said the training session was essentially an orientation on the benefits of deploying the CRA Methodology in the fight against corruption. He urged participants to embrace it and also take steps to widen the knowledge and skills imparted by supporting the training of risk assessors for their countries.
He said the Anti-Corruption Academy of Nigeria has a robust curriculum and expertise cutting across the spectrum of anti-corruption training, which can be adapted for other countries, taking into consideration national specifics.
“To further strengthen this institution, the academy has our support as it moves towards its objective of being an African Centre of Excellence in anti-corruption training and capacity building,” he said.
Mr Buhari pointed out that the training on CRA can only have meaning when the risk assessors are put to work.
“In Nigeria, the Methodology has been deployed to a number of sectors. The most recent one being the Risk Assessment of the country’s e-government system whose report is now available and the summary presented earlier this morning.
“It is, therefore, my great pleasure to present this Report to all the stakeholders, many of whom are present with us here.
“I urge them to work assiduously to implement the recommendations of the Report. I must also commend all those who carried out the assessment and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for supporting the process,” he said.
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