By Kebba Touray
The African Parliamentarians’ Network Against Corruption dubbed (APNAC) has just concluded a four-day conference in Yaounde, Cameroon from 9th December to 13th December 2018, as part of the International Anti-Corruption Day celebrated by the United Nations every year on December 9th coupled with the 2018 Year of ‘Combating Corruption’ decreed by the African Union.
It is in this light that the APNAC-Cameroon chapter, in conjunction with the leadership of the National Assembly of Cameroon and with technical support of APNAC-Africa Secretariat, organised this important conference under the patronage of the Right Honourable CAVAYE YEGUE Djibril, Speaker of the National Assembly of Cameroon.
The Conference gathered Parliamentarians around the African Continent, civil society organisations, intellectuals, Transparency International; Global networks Against Corruption, religious leaders, traditional rulers, students and women leaders from all over Cameroon and Africa.
The conference dwelt on key issues such as ‘Challenges in The Fight Against Corruption in Africa’, ‘Corruption as A Barrier to Achieving the SDGs in Africa’, ‘Strengths and Limitations of the Processes Developed for the Recovery of the Body of the Offence and the Stolen Assets’ and ‘The specific role and contribution of the various stakeholders in the fight against Corruption’.
The Colloquium finally came up with a Final Communique which embodies the strategies and tactics adopted by the conference in the fight against corruption in Africa.
Hon. Suwaibou Touray, the Vice Chairperson of the APNAC Gambia Chapter of the Gambia National Assembly participated in the Colloquium and other activities on behalf of the APNAC Gambia Chapter.
When asked what the theme of the Conference was; Hon. Touray said “Winning the fight against corruption: a sustainable path to Afirca’s transformation” is the theme adopted by the colloquium.
Asked about the feeling of the delegates regarding corruption in Africa, Hon. Touray said the feeling of many people is that the fight against corruption is a losing battle because of how rampant and prevalent it is in almost all African countries.
Asked what the feeling of the delegates were after the conference, Hon. Touray said it was one of relief that despite all the negative outcomes of the attempts to eradicate corruption without success, there is growing desire on the part of many countries and international institutions to collaborate in varying ways and methods with a view to deal with the plague.
He was asked how Africans and Gambians in particular can understand what they are losing because of corruption; Hon. Touray said Africa is said to be losing 50 billion dollars every year through corruption. He said he does not have the estimated figure for the Gambia but opined that the Gambia is also losing substantial amounts of tax payers’ money through corruption which could have gone to finance important projects for the country. He said the fact that he does not know the figures shows that something is fundamentally wrong somewhere which needs to be rectified.
Hon. Touray said there are various types of corruption which were looked at such as Money Laundering, Illicit Financing, underhanded deals such as kickbacks, bribing of government officials, Parliamentarians, Law enforcement Agents and so on and so forth including briefcase NGOs, which all go to hamper revenue collection and development for the country.
Touray added that the lack of strong institutions geared to fight corruption in Africa coupled with the low remuneration and incentives for workers in public offices are some of the key reasons why corruption is prevalent and difficult to fight in Africa and the Gambia.
On what APNAC Gambia Chapter would do to contribute their quota in the fight against corruption in Gambia and Africa in general; Hon. Suwaibou Touray said the Gambia chapter will convene a meeting immediately after the budget session to draw a plan of action on the way forward. He said all methods will be explored with a view to fight the menace. He said NAMs will be advised to carefully use their anti-corruption lenses during their oversight functions such as scrutinizing the Budgets, Loans, Grants and International treaties to make sure Gambians are not unduly cheated in the processes.