Welcome Address By Johnson Oduwaiye, President / Editor-in-Chief Africa Link
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the inaugural Africa Link Annual Symposium being marked today with the 5th Edition of Africa Link Solidarity Awards.
The birth of Africa Link’s Annual Symposium is in line with the aims and objectives of Africa Link organisation to address concerns in and about Africa in a more dynamic manner to encourage Africans and friends of Africa to join efforts to eliminate some anomalies that slow down the progress and development of Africa, of which a cankerworm called corruption tops the list.
Different attempts and means have been employed to curb the effects of this cankerworm plaguing the continent. All the measures being taken and expected to curb it seem to be strengthening its resistance to be tamed. But all hopes are not lost as there are some countries, though very few, on the continent which have tamed it to some extent.
How did they achieve the feat? It is by collective efforts and determination to call a spade a spade, seeing corruption as a worm that must be destroyed before it destroys the community. Africa’s communities ought to wage war against it individually and collectively with whatever means at their disposal.
This brings to mind a guiding Yoruba adage in such circumstances when all hands are called for participation in a communal project. It encourages the people not to think they are poor or have nothing to offer. It states: “if you don’t have money to contribute, you can contribute words of encouragement, and if you don’t have money and words of encouragement, you can make yourself available to run an errand for the community”
There is need to borrow a leaf from this adage, to collectively determine to fight corruption through our small or big contribution such as mounting campaign against any act that leads to it, like giving or taking bribes.
Lessons should be learned from the few African nations that are progressing in curbing corruption A new paradigm has to be found that is not limited litigation. For example looters of national treasury can be encouraged and persuaded to bring back the looted fund and invest it in the country without being prosecuted. This may save a lot of the fund being paid to legal defence for the looter and the affected country. As such the country where the money is kept will be deprived of taking a big chunk of the loot for litigation after which there will be very little to be given the looter’s country if there is something at all. For the such negotiation both the looter and his/her country will have a substantial amount resulting in win win for both.
The amount realized can be made public, and invested in specific projects among the states, regions of the country, but not shared among the poor people. Instead it can be used to empower them to engage in petty trade.
Influential persons, Civil societies, NGOs and Religion bodies, community leaders should be involved in the battle in their respective constituencies.
Corruption has contributed in no small way to brain drain and loss of lives of thousands of young ambitious Africans in search of better life.
It is for this reason Africa Link chooses CORRUPTION AND MIGRATION for the inaugural phase of the symposium. It is our contribution to join efforts with those of the vanguards of fight against corruption.
Governments should not by their action or inaction brew corruption. As earlier stated, the paradigm of fighting corruption has to change. What we have now has not been yielding the anticipated results rather it has created more perpetrators of corruption, who are now demi-gods and so-called respectable people in our midst.
The first edition of the Africa Link Solidarity Awards held in 2006 provided a platform for Africans and their Diaspora relatives to recognize outstanding leadership in the areas of Democracy, Development and Diplomacy and solidarity with Africa. Over the years the categories of the awards have expanded to include rewards for good performance that brings respect, honour and recognition to Africans; and individual’s and organisation’s contribution to communities in Africa that improves the lives of ordinary people.
While the recipients of the previous four editions of the awards have gone on to contribute to the development of their countries and Africa in various leadership roles, many of the continent’s problems have remained or even escalated in some cases.
In response to the many daunting challenges that continue to hound Africa’s development footsteps, the fifth edition of the awards in 2018 marks the introduction of the Africa Link Annual Symposium. The Symposium will generate inputs from key state policy and governance officials, informed and influential citizens in Africa, the Diaspora and global expertise in various disciplines. It will promote their collaboration in the search for solutions.
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, through these symposium and award initiatives Africa Link is running an errand for Africa, and people of African origin, hoping the speakers today will help set the ball rolling towards the set goal.
I thank the speakers as they will help us to open another episode in our effort to contribute in our small ways to the discourse being sought to make Africa take its rightful position among the developed comity of nations. So help us God
Thank you for listening