Washington, DC–John Akhile, A United States-based, Nigerian-born businessman, asserts that widespread corruption and poor governance are the chief reasons preventing African countries from thriving.
In his book, Unleashed, Akhile says “African people are not the only perpetrators of corruption” and “that corruption is not unique to Africans.” However, corruption has had particularly pernicious results in Africa, having “blighted the economic prospects and hopes of African people.”
For instance, “corruption has permeated the fabric and culture of Nigeria’s government so deeply that it is impossible to separate the two. The society at large has been impacted by the malfeasance of their leaders.”
Corruption has now become systemic in that West African country. “The seed of corruption poison planted by Nigeria’s first republic has germinated and created a stronghold for a corruption epidemic that very few countries in the world can match; it continues to bear fruit.”
It is similarly so in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The corruption practiced in D.R. Congo is endemic and expected, like a cultural norm for some and a birthright for others…. If one is looking for the profile of a state which corruption has almost terminated, it is hard to find a better example than D.R. Congo.”
But poor governance, or the absence of governance, has had a worsening effect than even corruption. “Governance issues in African nations supersede the effect of illegalities,” Akhile writes in Unleashed, whose subtitle is A New Paradigm of African Trade with the World.
“The crux of the problem is sub-standard governance.” This includes, among other factors, the absence of government structures; a refusal, or reluctance to take on the cost of bearing the responsibility of governance; a lack of governance sophistication on the continent; and an absence of vision for where leaders of African countries want to take their people.
In Unleashed, Akhile makes a number of recommendations to combat both corruption and weak governance.
He states that “corruption can be stopped in every country, because the nations of the world have had a fairly extensive running battle with the ‘monster’ to develop a comprehensive set of offensive and defensive measures that the worst plague of corruption cannot escape.”
Because “corruption is an evil act that thrives in darkness, to counteract it therefore, the objective should be to shine as much light into the areas and processes where abuse is occurring.”
Such measures include a no-nonsense but impartial justice system; “laws that can bite like a crocodile”; a strict but fair application of the rule of law in cases of corruption; trying and convicting criminal perpetrators of corruption; and engaging the public as the most effective defensive weapon against corruption by enlisting the active participation and help of its citizens who are most impacted by the evil.
An important measure is the establishment of anticorruption agencies in each country “that target the higher echelon perpetrators of fraud and corruption.”
Africa should look to others that have developed means to combat corruption. “There are other countries that have the expertise African countries could hire on the open market to customize a failsafe and airtight anti-corruption bureau as well,” Akhile recommends, noting that “Singapore’s development of a world-class anti-corruption agency is instructive.”
Akhile says such an “agency must have no constraints on its ability to investigate corruption regardless of the position of the principals including the first citizen.”
The time is right for improved governance because “there is a growing crescendo of agitation for better, more responsive governance structures throughout Africa because people no longer want to wear the poverty and deprivation.”
African governments need to take governance seriously and pay attention to the importance of the structure and competence of governance; leaders should get acquainted with effective governance structures in other countries; countries need to aggressively embrace ideas and financial instruments that can help to create raw material conversion industries; and to develop greater levels of sophistication in their dealings.
According to Akhile, Nigeria has a particularly important role to play. “If Nigeria is cleaned up and rid of fraud and corruption, Africa will begin to rise, because Nigeria’s economy will ascend.”
The book is available on Amazon.com.