“It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world”.
Mr Speaker, I have no doubt that we all are proud of this day, regardless of the shortfalls that identify with it.
Mr Speaker, years ago, newly-liberated countries felt the need to express solidarity with one another, and in May 1963, 32 African countries met in Addis Ababa to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU). It was a major political force on the continent until the 1990s. This year's celebration of African Union Day is the 55th edition and is being held on the theme: “Winning the Fight against corruption: A sustainable path to Africa's development”.
Mr Speaker, the Union was founded with the primary aim to fight for the decolonisation of some African countries that were, within that period, under oppressors' rule. The organisation pledged to support the work conducted by freedom fighters and remove military access to colonial nations. A charter was set out which sought to improve the living standards across member States.
Mr Speaker, colonialism is, admittedly, not the sole cause of Africa's problems. However, its negative impact persists but for a long time we have as a continent threaded on linking Africans under development issues to the fact that the continent was colonised by others for many years. This notion has misled us in many ways.
Mr Speaker, it is time for Africa to benefit from Africa's wealth that can be used to make Africa a better place, and to
also sustain the generations unborn. We must work to enable our land, after decades of looting to enter an era of opulence.
Mr Speaker, we have looked elsewhere without knowing how corruption has been a scourge to Africa's development. Corruption has become part of our daily lives and it is gradually becoming a culture that marches on in every line of work everywhere on the African continent. .
Mr Speaker, in the political, economic, social, religious, et cetera sectors everywhere, corruption is a key factor that could be identified easily. Corruption has over the years had an enormous negative impact on development in African countries, so overcoming the corruption issue is crucial for the continent's future .
Mr Speaker, the statistics of corruption in Africa over the years is not encouraging. This has discouraged investors from considering entry into Africa. Corruption is known to gulp substantial portions of the continent's tax revenue, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and even international aid, and can create a strong abhorrence to inter- national investments.
Mr Speaker, the fight is for all Africans to take up to ensure that the continent is free from this canker. We must, as citizens, feel the need to be responsible to our nations and also pledge allegiance to the continent. We must sanitise corrupt structures and not hesitate to name and shame corrupt citizens.
Mr Speaker, Africa can grow and when its people are strong together, we would feel the need to be partakers of ploughing the road that will lead to Africa's development.
Mr Speaker, the AU Day is to remind us of the fact that we are one people and
that we must be concerned about the growth of each nation and in doing so we must fight against all activities that only come to suppress the growth of the continent. It could be noted that with dreary reports on graft arising from Africa, some commentators are quick to dismiss the continent as a hub of endemic corruption. These concerns cannot and should not be taken lightly.
Mr Speaker, however, people who want to invest in the continent should also avoid allowing bleak statistics to halt their investment plans. It can be noted that with the right strategies and perspectives, corruption can become a manageable factor in one's African investments.
Mr Speaker, the worry at checkpoints along African roads serves as the most noticeable example. The continuous request by checkpoint officials for unofficial payments by citizens is heartbreaking. When that corruption rises to systemic abuses by checkpoint officials, then the strength of the restrain to new investments certainly upsurges. Political corruption is also a problem across the globe just as educational corruption, where people are certified without acquiring any training in a particular field.
Mr Speaker, the problem with feeding corruption is that once you start, there is really no end. It is therefore needful that as a continent, we all wear our zero- tolerance jackets against bribery. The media should strengthen their watchdog organs everywhere in the continent and also, the law enforcement agencies should be on the lookout for corrupt citizens. We must all contribute our quota to fight this menace, to ensure that Africa stands tall out of the other continents freed from corruption and dishonesty.
Mr Speaker, in our effort to win the war against corruption, African governments must demonstrate beyond rhetorics, their commitments to fight the canker of corruption.
Like other democracies, Ghana has demonstrated such commitment by first and foremost, the appointment of a Special Prosecutor by the Akufo-Addo Administration. This scores the point that corruption has dire consequences, not only on Africa's internal democracy and economic development, but also injures her reputation in the outside world.
Indeed, some countries around the continent such as Tanzania, Botswana, Rwanda, to name a few, have equally demonstrated the willingness to chase out the demon of corruption.
Mr Speaker, it is instructive to recall the memorable words of former President Barrack Obama, when he charged Africa to build strong institutions as a measure of scaling up its developmental and democratic gains.
Over the years, appalling institutional and systemic failures have been the incubator for corruption to thrive. Africa has no excuse to allow for weaker institutions to characterise its govern- ments and economies.
Mr Speaker, the AU Day must remind us all that we are each other's keeper together as a continent, and we mujst pray for each other's growth and development.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.