Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has urged African nations to strengthen their financial institutions such as Custom formations, transfer pricing units, anti-corruption agencies to tackle menace of illicit financial flow in the continent.
Osinbajo made the call in Abuja on Tuesday at the 2nd International Conference on Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Enhancing Asset Recovery for Sustainable Development.
The conference was designed to evolve measures to realise implementation of the United Nations 2030 agenda for sustainable development by assisting vulnerable countries to enhance mobilisation of domestic resources by blocking IFF.
The conference was also convoked to ensure recovered illicit assets become part of resources for financing development.
Osinbajo, represented by the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Economic Matters, Adeyemi Dipeolu, said IFF was a concern to African countries.
He said that the IFF was impacting negatively on the development of African governments.
Osinbajo said that the processes through which IFF takes place undermines government’s efforts to carry out its obligations on its citizens, noting that huge resources was been held outside the continent.
He said: “Our effort to stem financial flow will depend on our domestic capacity to prevent and repatriate illicit financial flow as well as for African countries to establish the relevant architecture.
“This includes establishment and strengthening of the revenue authorities, such as customs, financial institutions, transfer pricing units, anti-corruption agencies.”
According to him, the task of combating IFF will also require provision of accurate data, update information, effective regulatory, and legislative institutional frameworks.
He also said there was the need to acquire and engage in training of highly skilled personnel, who understands the complexity of IFF.
He said: “Above all we must be committed in using the recovered resources in promoting development and the interest of the people.”
The vice president said that Nigerian government remained committed to combating IFF in the continent.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geofrey Onyema, said that the negative impacts of IFF on the implementation of 2030 agenda for sustainable development for developing countries cannot over emphasised.
According to him, evidence shows that enormous resources siphoned from Africa was scuffling provision of basic infrastructure, quality education and health services in the continent.
He said that in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari was making assiduous effort to tackle the menace of IFF, adding that Nigerian’s unwavering commitment has been acknowledge by the international community.
Osinbajo said: “In this regards, Nigeria must continue to work to honor our obligation under the open government partnership, we must continue to promote fiscal transparency in the conduct of government business.
“Nigeria must continue to promote the laudable objective of tax initiative as measure to address IFF.
“We must ensure efficiency in our tax systems and the ease of doing business in Nigeria; we must continue with our anti-corruption measures.”
He said Nigeria must continue to strengthen its relevant legislation on asset recovery.
He, however, said Nigeria was also faced with challenges in getting foreign countries to repatriate funds and assets taken away from the country.
He said: “Of course another challenge, we see and I see it on daily basis in ministry of foreign affairs is asset recovery.
“It is mind boggling, the difficulty of restitution and recovering asset from foreign countries, not minding UN resolutions on issues of illicit financial flows and demands for countries to facilitate asset recovery.
“But we know, it is still real challenge for developing countries.
“For developing countries, such as Nigeria, it is much more difficult, the hurdles we have to overcome is much.”
He, however, said that President Muhammadu Buhari was engaging with a number of head of states around the globe to repatriate the funds.
According to him, these are sovereign countries, they have practices and procedures, but Mr. President is very determined to get everything back and we are working towards that.
A Member of the Presidential Committee against Corruption in Nigeria, Prof Femi Odekunle in his remarks said African nations cannot fully achieve their development goals if they continue to lose fund via IFF.
According to him, monies are lost through tax evasion, by companies and multinationals.
He said for developing countries to address its development goals, it must work towards curbing the issue of IFF.
He explained that African countries must strengthen their anti-money laundry laws, policies and strengthen financial institutions to ensure transparency in their system to curb IFF.