Foremost human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), says there’s no way corruption can be fully dealt with when there are policies and programmes which promote poverty.
The lawyer said this during a keynote address at the 8th anti-corruption situation room on the review of the fight against corruption organised by the Human Rights and Environmental Development Agenda HEDA in Abuja on Wednesday.
Making reference to Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, the senior lawyer said the implementation of policies set by those leaders are not enough to tackle corruption.
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“With profound respect, both African leaders have failed to address the root cause of corruption. As no nation can fight corruption outside its political economy the discourse has to take cognisance of the impact of the neo-liberal policies being religiously pursued by the majority of African governments,” he said.
“To that extent, the implementation of the aforementioned policies cannot seriously tackle the problem of corruption. It is submitted that corruption cannot be meaningfully fought by governments that pay poor wages to workers, owe workers and pensioners arrears of salaries and pension and implement economic programmes that promote poverty and underdevelopment.
“It has to be realised that the progressive withdrawal of subsidies from social services by the state which is a key component of the IMF/World Bank sponsored Structural Adjustment Programme has led to mass poverty in the land. Wealth cannot be created by countries whose economy is operated to serve the interests of imperialism.
“For instance, two years ago, Rwanda which was spending $2 billion per annum on the importation of second hand dresses decided to develop her textile industry. Accordingly, the Kagame regime banned the importation of all second hand dresses from the United States and other Western countries. The Trump administration kicked against the ban and threatened to impose economic sanctions on Rwanda. We supported the ban and called on Nigeria and other African countries to develop their textile industry. But the call has been ignored to the detriment of the economy and the dignity of the Nigerian people.”
Falana said “As a matter of fact, the federal government has engaged in budget padding and manipulation,” and that government has not mobilised the peoples to fight corruption.