(NAN)Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday decried the impoverishment of African peoples by corrupt leaders and urged the African Union to designate corruption as crime against humanity.
Prof. Osinbajo made the suggestion in his remark at the inaugural J.F. Ade Ajayi Memorial Lecture held at the University of Lagos.
“It is time for the AU to correctly designate corruption as a crime against humanity,’’ Prof. Osinbajo declared.
According to him, the problem of corruption must be escalated as the vice is clearly the most devastating affliction of the African people, and possibly the single most important cause of poverty on the continent.
Osinbajo described the “needless elongation of the insurgency in the North East’’ and “continuing human and environmental tragedy in the Niger Delta’’ as two recent tragedies in the country.
“Taking the insurgency in the North East, billions of U.S. dollars was voted for the purchase of arms. As we were to later discover almost all of that money was simply stolen.
“The war cost the lives of ill equipped troops and innocent civilians: over 20,000 dead; over two million IDPs; Borno alone has 49,000 orphans and close to 10 billion dollars lost.
‘`The corruption of a few has cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars, destinies lost and futures destroyed,’’ he said.
He wondered how anyone could explain “the wasteland that is the Niger Delta today.’’
The vice president recalled that some estimates showed that some states in the Niger Delta earned more than many African states year-on-year.
Osinbajo said the Pan Africanist ideal of fairness and integrity was upheld in the context of the African Union through a common commitment of promoting transparency and anti-corruption in the continent.
He observed that in addition to the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, the organisation has also played a leading role in efforts to stem illicit financial flows from Africa.
He said it was done through the work of the Economic Commission for Africa.
“ We must demonstrate that it is un-African for leaders to perpetrate the immorality of stealing the future of our children, he stressed.
The vice president hailed the virtues of the late Ade Ajayi as worthy of emulation.
“The legacies of men and women like the great JF Ade Ajayi must be held aloft as the examples of the African moral tradition.’’
He said the late Ajayi left a legacy of service through scholarship.
“By his teachings he educated and inspired a whole generation. And through his writings he educates and inspires the next generation.’’
Ajayi was one of Nigeria’s foremost history scholars, and former vice chancellor of UNILAG.