President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo came face to face for the first time after Obasanjo released a damning statement asking Buhari not to seek re-election in 2019.
The two leaders met on Sunday at the ongoing African Union summit taking place at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
They met briefly just before the opening ceremony of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).
Obasanjo first went round to exchange pleasantries with other African leaders attending the summit, before looking out for Buhari among the crowd to also have a word with him.
State House correspondents at the venue observed that the brief pleasantries between the two leaders became a sensation inside the Nelson Mandela Hall as photojournalists made frantic efforts to capture the moment.
Obasanjo had stirred up controversies in Nigeria when he released a 13-page statement accusing Buhari of under-performance and therefore should not seek re-election in 2019.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that Nigeria was committed to fighting corruption forever.
Buhari emphasised that the country remained committed to the anti-corruption war “today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.”
He spoke in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he launched the African Anti-corruption Year 2018 during the opening of the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, with the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”
President Buhari described corruption as one of the greatest evils of the time which “rewards those who do not play by the rules and also creates a system of distortion and diversion thereby destroying all efforts at constructive, just and fair governance.”
He said despite the sustained economic growth on the continent for the past two decades, public confidence had been eroded by a focus on short-term priorities and payoffs propelled by corruption which, according to him, often leaves projects uncompleted and promises unfulfilled.
Buhari said corruption posed a real threat to national security as well as eroded the development of a universal culture of good governance, democratic values, gender equality, human rights, justice and the rule of law.
“It is evident that corruption has a devastating impact on marginalized communities especially the youth, women and children. Corruption breeds unequal societies, renders vulnerable groups prone to human trafficking, as well as recruitment into armed groups and militia. In effect, corruption deprives our young citizens of opportunities to develop meaningful livelihoods,” he added.
President Buhari called on African leaders to build synergy between the executive, judiciary and legislature in order to entrench good governance, transparency and accountability.
The president stressed that in order to win the war against corruption, anti-graft agencies must be empowered and insulated from political influence.
Noting that the manifestation of corruption in Africa was a demonstration of the need for strong leadership, he said tackling corrupt acts and greed requires a reorientation of attitudes and perceptions, saying “To win the fight against corruption, we must have a change of mindset.”
He said his priorities in the anti-graft campaign in 2018 included organising African Youth Congresses against Corruption to sensitise and engage youths in the fight, mobilising AU member states to implement the extant legal framework on corruption as well as canvassing for the strengthening of the criminal justice system across Africa through exchange of information and sharing best practices in the enforcement of anti-corruption laws.
President Buhari, who told the AU leaders that the anti-graft war would not be an easy task as corruption does fight back, however, urged them to remain firm and resolute.
He promised to do his best to ensure that the anti-corruption agenda receives the attention it deserves and makes the impact all Africans hope for, this 2018 and beyond.
Copyright Ships & Ports Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit given to www.shipsandports.com.ng as the source.