UN Scribe: Nigeria Needs More Funds to Fight Boko Haram

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• Says Africa already moving towards peace, security

•Laments continent’s loss of $50bn to money laundering yearly

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, wednesday lamented the sudden rise of armed groups and international terrorist organisations across Africa, noting that more funds would be required to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria and other terrorist groups on the continent.

Guterres also lamented an annual loss of $50 billion moved out of Africa through illegal funds, money-laundering and tax evasion, which he said, could hamper Africa’s development agenda.

These were contained in a communique issued after the second annual UN-African Union conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia between July 9 and 10 to strengthen the relationship between the UN and AU.

The conference was equally attended by the Chairperson of AU, Mr. Moussa Faki, and the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Ms. Vera Songwe.

As contained in the communique, UN chief dissected the “dramatic crises” in Africa, where the UN had deployed peacekeeping missions in four countries: the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali and South Sudan.

He also noted that the rise of armed groups and international terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram “means that these operations are not involved in traditional peacekeeping.”

If Africa must win war against terrorism, the UN scribe canvassed the need for more funding, particularly in enforcing peace and countering terrorism, especially in Nigeria and the Sahel.

He said: “We need to understand that when African troops are fighting terrorists in the Sahel, they are not only protecting the citizens of the Sahel. They are protecting the whole world. And the world must be in solidarity with Africa, as African forces are protecting us all.”

The UN chief equally called for greater support for the UN Agenda 2030 and African Union’s Agenda 2063, both of which address long-term economic development.

However, the UN chief said recent developments in Africa indicated that the continent “is increasingly moving in the direction of peace and enhanced security. But we need to collaborate in such areas as peace and security.

“We feel a wind blowing in the direction of peace,” he said, referring to recent developments such as the historic visit by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister to rival and neighbour Eritrea, as well as peace talks on South Sudan, where conflict has raged since 2013.

“All this gives us hope that the African continent will be moving more and more in the right direction in peace and security. The UN cannot afford to fail in its dealings with the continent.

On illicit transfers, Guterres lamented an annual loss of $50 billion that oozed out of Africa through illegal funds, money-laundering and tax evasion, which he claimed, was a huge threat to Africa’s development agenda if the trend was not checked.

He urged the international community “to take action against the flow of illegal funds, money-laundering and tax evasion, which cost Africa $50 billion every year.

“This is a responsibility for the international community to support Africa to make sure that African resources remain in Africa to support African development.”

Also quoted in the communique, Songwe noted that the ECA, through the High Level Panel on Migration in Africa “is already addressing the migration agenda in collaboration with International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

“The Panel is chaired by former President of Liberia, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Migration of Africans has dropped between 2000 and 2017 from 3 percent to 2.7 per cent of total world migration. With the Free Movement of Persons Agreement which 26 countries have already signed, Africa is working to design and implement a framework for migration that supports the SDGs,” Songwe explained.

At the on-going three-day High-Level Policy Dialogue on Development Planning in Africa, Principal Regional Advisor and Head of Development Planning and Statistics at the ECA, Mr. Sylvain Boko, said it was unacceptable that Africa’s development agenda continued to be hampered by such illegal actions.

Boko said: “African countries are committed to mobilising adequate and predictable resources to finance the sustainable development goals agenda but they continue to be impeded by a number of factors, chief among them the loss of more than $50 billion annually through illicit financial flows.

“It is estimated that $100 billion a year, about four per cent of Africa’s GDP, have been illegally earned, transferred, or used, much of it due to mis-invoicing. This retards Africa’s growth; weakens public institutions and rule of law; discourages the culture of paying taxes and value-addition to natural resources; and results in countries over relying on official development assistance.”