Ghana is blessed with a lot of resources largely categorised under both human and natural among several other endowments, yet we lack behind so far as development is concerned. Why? What could possibly be the cause?
The level of underdevelopment that has hit the country can largely be attributed to the emergence of corruption that has bedevilled this country. Several media houses over the years have reported several corruption cases yet these culprits find their ways off the hook. It is indeed the occurrences of these incidences among others that has awakened my consciousness to come up with this piece christened “Should corruption be legalized in Ghana?”
Many schools of thought trust that corruption is not a new canker but rather as old as Adam and Eve as former president John Agyekum Kufuor in one of his speech reiterated.
This claim really lends credence to the fact that corruption has been in existence since the time of creation and it looks as if this problem is not going to end anytime soon. In fact, corruption is inevitable!
Where can we find some of these corrupt cases? In churches, both private and public sector, amongst politicians, just to mention a few. In 1988, Professor Adu Boahene gave a lecture at the Ghana Academy of Art and Sciences; this was amongst a series of lectures he delivered on that occasion.
Speaking on the “Ghanaian Sphinx”, Prof. Adu Boahene enumerated a lot of problems that this country has been facing and chief among them was corruption. It was surprising to note that the kind of corruption scandal and corruption related practices that smash this country during the era of the military regime in the early 1970s to the late 1980s was shocking, as he used one local term “Kalabule” which means cheating to clearly depict this. The level of dishonesty and greediness amongst the public and private workers were appalling.
During this era, only a few people benefited from the numerous resources in the country. “The big men at the top enjoyed life in this country”.
One could justify the existence of corruption under a military regime because in most cases, state institutions mandated to check and control the issue of bribery and corruption did not function. Rather, those closer to the leaders and other family members ripped the gains whereas state institutions authorized to control and check the menace of corruption are not considered.
The era of military government came to an end subsequently after Prof. Adu Boahene delivered his lectures in 1988. Also, Ghana entered another constitutional regime in 1992 and paved way for democracy. Still speaking on the lecture on corruption, Prof Adu Boahene made some suggestions that will go a long way to curb corruption and called for the existence of vibrant institutions to check and control the problem.
There are a lot of institutions in this country which have been mandated by the constitution of Ghana to check the issue of corruption and corruption related scandals. The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), and the Ghana police service among others are institutions entrusted to fight corruption.
The recent institution that has joined the train of institutions to fight corruption cases in this country is the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor which is headed by Mr Martin Amidu. Have these institutions been able to tackle these cases? Has there been any issue regarding corruption that has hit this country? Readers will answer these questions for themselves.
It is important to note that the rate at which corruption is growing in Ghana is terrible thus ripping the country of her gains.
On daily basis, we hear stories related to corruption on several media platforms. Did you know that before Ghana could sell part of the Ghana Telecom to Vodafone company, our parliamentarians had to receive five thousand dollars each? This was according to P.C Appiah Ofori former Member of Parliament for Esikumah Odobeng constituency yet most of his colleagues denied the claim. Mr Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin was spotted to have said that parliamentarians receive money before they pass some bills.
Are these the only corruption issues that have happened in this country? This is but a few. Did you hear of Ghana’s Guinea fowls flying all the way from Ghana to Burkina Faso? What about GEDA and SADA? The issue of bus branding in 2016? The 2014 Brazil fiasco where a minister appears before a committee and is granted pardon over his corrupt act because he cried?
The list is tall, but no one has been tried before the law. Very often, I get bewildered when I hear people talk about evidence, even at the moment when the culprit is caught red-handed. This is shocking! These corruption related matters happened during the time of former President John Dramani Mahama.
In the run-up to the 2016 general election, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) campaigned vehemently on corruption as if they knew the antidote to it. Little did they come into power than the situation worsened.
A government of two years in office and the sort of corruption allegations levied against them are alarming. Cash for seat saga, where people must pay some amount of money before one could sit with the president is no exception.
The funny aspect of this was that the closer you sat by the president the higher the amount you pay. Parliament had to then set up a committee to investigate the matter but before the committee could bring out their findings, the president had already declared the minister innocent. The Australia Visa scandal too is another, as some people found their way to Australia for the commonwealth games through illegal means.
The then Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports Mr Pius Enam Hadzide was then suspended pending the findings of a committee that was set up to investigate the matter and as usual, the report came out as the minister was exonerated. Indeed, the conclusion still affirms the fact that issues of corruption is not a current menace but has been with this country since time immemorial.
Even though these cases were visible during the tenure of former president Kufuor, former president Mahama, and the current president Nana Addo yet this issue future dates to Dr Kwame Nkrumah and even before him.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas, an ace investigative journalist has been doing tremendously well with the issue of corruption and most at times after his tireless effort to name and shame people who engage in corrupt related matters, the state does not pursue it any further.
A clear example of such a case is his reported incident at the Osu Children home, where food and other items designated to be given to the Orphans were selfishly sold. He also conducted another investigation amongst some members of Ghana’s judicial service entitled “Ghana in the eyes of God” where a lot of corrupt judges were caught on camera taking bribes.
Some of the items were money, goats and others. In this particular case, the magnitude of your case before the judge determined the kind of gift that you will offer. Recently, he brought out another documentary concerning football and the activity of the Ghana Football Association dubbed #12.
Indeed, this was one of the documentaries that really shocked the entire Ghanaian populace. In resolving the crisis, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) president Mr Kwesi Nyantakyi, was relieved of his position while the government also dissolved the GFA. Mr Anas thereafter petitioned FIFA about the documentary and FIFA after studying it banned Mr Nyantakyi from all football-related activities for life, yet Ghana’s Attorney General says there is not enough evidence to prosecute him.
So there you go again, almost all the corruption cases that have sprung out in the country have not had any fruitful outcome.
It becomes even worrisome when the issue has got to do with politicians. Looking at how corruption cases are treated in the country, “will it be ideal to legalize it to enable the players in the game to do it well”? Should we have a Ministry headed by a Minister who will oversee the affairs of corruption and be promoting its course? There has been no strategic improvement from the 1970s and the 1980s; something Prof. Adu Boahene alluded to. One can observe that the issue has rather escalated from worse to worst and our institutions are not “biting hard enough” and even if they are biting, they are not biting the big fish.
We will suffer as a country if we do not go beyond the lip service of fighting corruption. Who suffers when corruption is eminent in the society? Simple! The poor, the vulnerable, and the minority.
What then can we do as a country to control and curtail the endemic nature of corruption? It is imperative that as individuals we note that corruption will sink this country deeper to destruction and as such, we must change our attitude. Also, state institutions mandated to fight corruption and its related matters should be well resourced and labour with a high level of integrity made to man such institutions. Honestly, we do not need more institutions in addition to the ones that we already have been burdening the state coffers without any result. It is better to make the already built ones stronger and workable.
Going forward parliamentarians should also pass the Right To Information (RTI) Bill which has been before parliament for more than two decades. Corruption can’t be legalized because we are just not ready for its consequences.
Let us rise above this canker and prosper as a country. Say NO to corruption! Ghana must work again. Ghana will work again. YOUNG POSITIVIST, a concerned citizen of Ghana.
The Writer is Boamah Sampson, a final year student at the University of Ghana, studying English and Political Science.
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