As corruption continues to thrive in Africa, The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, OXFAM Nigeria, West African Tax Administration Forum, Wednesday, upscale fight against illicit financial flow.
The Executive Director, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, in an address of welcome, at ‘One-Day Dialogue on the Status of Adoption of High-Level Panel, HLP, Report on Illicit Financial Flows, IFFs, in ECOWAS Member States’ explained that calls for prudent use of resources have led to a conviction that the illicit financial outflows from the continent has been and still an obstacle to development for the citizens of Africa.
Rafsanjani said: “As we delved deeper into the bottlenecks of development financing, it became obvious that the drive to stem illicit financial flows was just the beginning of a multi-faceted campaign to stop the bleeding of Africa’s resources.
“We hope to broaden the conversation on illicit financial flows (IFFs) beyond specialist circles in order to generate support for public policy measures. Progress was made on this front when the Report of the High-Level Panel (HLP) on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa was presented at the 24th AU Summit in Addis Ababa which was held between the 21st to 23rd of January 2015, and was adopted by African leaders.
“The report echoed civil society voices from across the continent in highlighting illicit financial flows as a serious threat to inclusive development in Africa and calling for urgent practical policy action to stop the hemorrhage.
“According to the HLP report, illicit outflows increased at an alarming rate of 20.2% per year from 2002 to 2011(Global Financial Integrity calculations). The panel noted that the dependence of African economies on natural resources extraction makes them particularly vulnerable to IFFs, but also that the digital economy and new technologies are making it easier, adding a troubling new dimension to the problem.
“The report singles out the issue of weak national and regional capacities as a major obstacle in efforts to curb IFFs, making it clear it is ultimately a political issue.
“The last few years have seen a notable emergence of civil society groups across the continent who have joined together to rally against IFFs. Indeed, IFFs have become a key part of Agenda 2063 conversations on Africa’s development as well as in ongoing processes such as the Financing for Development and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
However, according to the CISLAC boss, Nigeria is the number one country that losses billions of Dollars annually to illicit financial flow.
“From the report of Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria is not doing well, and the number one country that losses billions of Dollars annually, and we hope that the Nigerian government sees this as a major threat to development.
“And we hope that this government will see this as a major to our progress and socio-economic well-being. If the NASS can discuss the report and begin to act on it the government will definitely sit up and do something.
He also lamented that inequality, poverty are widening, huge loss of jobs, factories closing, corruption and insecurity increasing as a result of illicit financial outflow, and added that NASS should hold a public hearing and interrogate those responsible for allowing leakages in the economy.
“Nigeria is losing billions of dollars annually, and it is important that the National Assembly carry out their responsibility and it is not enough just approving and endorsing loans by the President, but also ask critical questions – why are we borrowing money that ends up in some people’s pockets, can be generated internally.
The laziness which some public officers are demonstrating and always resolving to borrow is getting out of hand.
“We have so much discussion on the need to diversify the economy, and it is only diversifying the economy you will be able to have other sources that are not oil-dependent.
“As it is now we are only relying on oil and look at what is going on, you have oil in the country and you keep on importing fuel, you promised that by 2016 that all the refineries will be put in place, and maximal capacity and utilization. We are in 2022 no refinery is working as promised by the government.
“Not only that, the so-called subsidy which many Nigerians and the President once called it as a fraud and we are still reversing back to the regime of subsidy as far as Nigerians are concerned it is simply a fraud.
“If there is subsidy it is Nigerians that are subsidizing those people that are actually doing that. So I think it is important given the revelation that even the fuel imported by NNPC is contaminated until the government takes decisive action against those who have imported this contaminated fuel Nigerians are consuming that has destroyed engines of their vehicles and other related engines, and Nigeria remains the sole importer of petrol among OPEC members and you are bringing in this contaminated fuel”, he lamented.
Also the Executive Secretary, West African Tax Administration Forum, WATAF, Babatunde Oladapo, in a presentation titled ‘Status of Adoption of The Report of the High-Level Panel on IFFs From Africa’ disclosed that Africa is losing $50 billion to illicit financial flow annually.
According to Oladapo, Africa lost $1 trillion to illicit financial flows in 50 years traceable to corruption, commercial transactions, and organised criminal activities.
“This sum is roughly equivalent to all of the official development assistance received by Africa during the same timeframe.
“Nigeria is currently ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International and the 14th most vulnerable country out of 125 countries on the 2020 Basel Anti-Money-Laundering Index.
“Most relevant IFFs for Nigeria; Production and Trade of Goods and Services- Illegal arms trade and terror financing; Smuggling of agricultural and minerals products; Oil racketeering; Counterfeit goods; Bribery and Corruption Activities Transfer Mispricing (Tax evasion); Misuse of a public or private position for direct or indirect personal gain.
“Effort at curbing IFFS; Whistle-Blower Programme; This anti-corruption program encourages the voluntary disclosure to the government information about fraud, bribery, financial misconduct and any other form of corruption or theft Return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5 and 5.0 percent of the amount recovered.
“Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI); The Initiative has been effective in strengthening public debate and promoting policy options with regards to signing bonuses, unpaid royalties, and theft of crude oil and refined products. Adoption of Mining Act 2007 as the principal legislation that regulates the mining sector”, he said.
However, he (Oladapo) recommended that the way to fight the monster of IFFs include Institutionalising prudent legal and regulatory regimes, including fiscal policies that disallow financial secrecy; Fighting corruption; strengthening African institutions, and Building the capacity of Member States for contract negotiation and Tax administration; Identifying and returning resources lost through illicit financial flows to finance Africa’s development agenda.