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Child beggars queue for food in the northern city of Kano, Nigeria, which has the highest number of extremely poor people in the world. The country needs more revenue from oil and gas exports to fund economic diversification and lay the basis for a self-sustaining economic growth and development /Photo: © IRIN

Rawlings urges Western countries to return funds stolen from Nigeria

Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings has called for a global campaign for the return of Nigeria’s stolen funds kept in developed countries. According to him, the international community should spearhead the initiative in a manner similar to that for the release of the kidnapped Chibok girls.

Rawlings, who spoke to the Nigerian newspaper The Guardian in Accra recently on the outcome of the recent high-level London Conference on Corruption, charged developed countries to pay more than lip-service to the return of the funds to Nigeria and some other countries.

Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings │© GNA
Ghana’s former President Jerry John Rawlings │© GNA

Rawlings said: “The high-level London conference on corruption offers an opportunity not only for countries in Africa and the developing world to revise and enhance their strategies for combating corruption, but also for developed countries whose banks have served as a safe haven for stolen wealth from Africa and elsewhere to repatriate those funds.”

He criticised the developed countries who organise anti-corruption conferences with no concrete action to address issues that concern them. “Let us stop this mere conference of words and follow up with serious deeds. The commitment to corruption should work both ways. Developed countries cannot continue to harbour illegally-acquired funds from Africa and expect the latter to successfully stem the source of corruption.”

The former Ghanaian leader called for a return to Africa’s traditional sense of integrity to fight corruption. “If we could transmit the integrity from our culture and various languages into the Western language and behaviour we’ve adopted, we could end up restoring the needed level of integrity to create a more civilised behaviour.”

Rawlings also criticised the West for encouraging corruption in Africa through their policy of backing leaders who dance to their tune. “They resent and they don’t like nationalists, pan- Africanists. When the time comes, they would sacrifice you and keep your loot.”

Sesan Adeola

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