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Former Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Okonjo-Iweala Says “Those Who Steal Must Pay”



Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former minister of finance, says that although those who steal must be made to pay for their deeds, the best way to fight corruption is by employing technology and building institutions.

The Lazard senior advisor, who spoke at the Africa CEO forum on Monday, said corruption must be fought in two ways.

“We have to fight corruption in two ways; one is by punishing those who steal, and making sure they pay for what they do,” she said.

“But we also must plug all the holes by building institutions and systems that prevent corruption in the first place.

“If you have a financial system for running your financial accounts that is not computerised, that is not technologically based, you’re still transferring cash, as we were doing in my country up until 2003, 2004, then you’re opening up the place to a lot of people leaking.”

Okonjo holds the same stance as former president, Goodluck Jonathan, who said at one of his presidential campaign rallies that he was prepared to fight corruption with technology if he was re-elected.

In an exclusive interview with TheCable, Jonathan also said corruption must be fought with institutions, adding that methods known to Nigeria cannot be sustained.

“There is no shortcut to eradicating corruption. You don’t fight corruption with nerve. You fight it with the instruments of law. You fight it by building and strengthening institutions,” he had said.

“Go to advanced countries. Go to the countries that rank very high on Transparency International’s corruption perception index. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Singapore, name them… They don’t use nerve to fight corruption.

“It is not the president or prime minister that fights corruption in those countries. It is the system. That is why even the prime minister can be removed and tried for corruption.

“In Nigeria, some people want strong men as presidents who will fight corruption as they wish, as they want and as they please. You cannot sustain that. You cannot even guarantee that there will be no abuse.

“When they arrest somebody and put them in handcuff on national television, we all rejoice. But how long will that last? What problem does it solve? Has it ever solved any problem?”

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