17.10.2003 Feature Article

Letter From The President (XXII): Corruption? Prove it!

Letter From The President (XXII): Corruption? Prove it!
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Countrymen and women, against people and bootlicking loyalists, I have just learnt that many of you think that there is a lot of corruption in our Sikaman. Well, I am very disappointed that you think corruption is still rife in this country even though I have been shouting my voice hoarse with ‘zero tolerance for corruption’ wherever I go, whomever I meet and whatever I do. If nothing at all, the ‘zero tolerance for corruption’ proclamation is a tune most of you adults should sing and use it to remind you of those your kiddy days in the kindergarten. Why then do you reward my creative ingenuity by telling Transparency International that you think corruption is as high in our country now as those days when Jerry Boom, Semorley and Kitsita were plundering the country? It’s not easy, you know, this business of fighting corruption. When I spoke about zero tolerance for corruption, I didn’t really mean that I was going to go all out to root out the canker from our society. I just wanted to prick the nation’s conscience and get people to think that I will not allow myself or any member of my government to be corrupt. You remember I made that “zero tolerance” declaration on the day of my enstoolment as the rightful occupant of the Black Star stool. At that time, I didn’t know that sitting on the Black Star Stool presented its own corrupting temptations (in fact only corruptible people can sit on the Black Star stool). I am afraid I can’t tell you about the temptations I have succumbed to. In the near future, that is after 2008, when I am out of office, the cat might be let out of the bag, the skeletons in my closet will be exposed and I might be fast-tracked like the Cabbage of Zambia is doing to his predecessor. Whether I will be fast-tracked or not depends on the craftiness with which I manage to stash away those skeletons or lay the cat to sleep quietly in the bag. Many of you have suggested that I should keep an eye on members of my team and stop them from dipping their hands in the national kitty or demanding extra favours before doing what they are paid to do. Well, I am afraid I can’t do this either. There are so many ministers, deputy ministers, ministers at ministries, special assistants and so many other government officials. I don’t have the capacity to effectively monitor the behaviour of each one of them. In fact a lot of these people know about the skeletons in my cupboard and any time I am pressured to take action against them for alleged corruption, I am compelled to think twice. I cannot expose someone who can expose me, you know. I have heard of the numerous corruption allegations against some members of my government with diverse discordant voices asking me to investigate those allegations. I have said on several occasions but I am not shy to repeat it. Anyone with information to nail any corrupt public official should set up his own special investigative agency, supply it with funds and the needed logistics, go out there and conduct investigations in the allegations. Never mind the fact that constitutionally-mandated agencies – like the police, SFO and CHRAJ - have been established to investigate these corruption allegations. It sounds absurd in my own mind but I think it will save the nation a lot of time and money if individuals who make allegations are made to investigate those allegations themselves and bring out verifiable evidence which can be used to prosecute those concerned. Don’t you think we would save ourselves a lot of money if those who get robbed are told to buy their own fingerprint (or lie) detection apparatus, hunt for clues and leads, search for suspects on their own, arrest them and later hand them over to the courts for prosecution? If I had been told to conduct my own investigations into Akpodabi’s corrupt practices, he would have been in jail by now. My philosophy is that I don’t want to go on a wild goose chase trying to prove allegations of corruption against my own people – the very people who know about the different types of skeletons in my cupboard. I will better spend the time traveling, ‘commissioning’ projects, giving and receiving photo-opportunities, enjoying high-speed rides in Accra, drinking, delivering speeches I don’t understand etc. I am a very busy man, you know, and I can’t even a spare a second to order investigations into whether or not J.H. had spent 400 million cedis to renovate his house or whether Tarbels used his tenure at W&H to dupe some contractors. On some very rare occasions, when the noise about corruption becomes too much for my ears I will play a certain variety of the musical chairs game – it’s called a ministerial reshuffle. If there is no incontrovertible evidence that an act of corruption has occurred but if a lot of ‘noise’ is made against a particular minister, he will be moved to a very obscure ministry. Did you know that I decided to move Dan Kapaah to the complex but less lucrative world of telecoms? Well, there was a lot of noise that he was licking the ‘Sahara’ too dry. Akrapu was moved from Trade because there was a lot of noise that he had developed long arms which he stretched as far as the Free Zones Board to freely dip his hands in the board’s coffers. I dipped into the deepest recesses of my very ingenuous mind and sent him to a ministry, where his work involves a lot of cross border travels. At this ministry, he almost always have to communicate through an interpreter, giving him less room to ask for special favours. He’s been complaining to a lot of his friends but he cannot come and stand before me and whine about why I moved him from his previous ministry. From the foregoing, I hope you realize that even though I don’t have the time to investigate any (if not all) the allegations of corruption made against my team members, I have my own way of dealing with those about whom so much noise is made. So next time anyone from Transparency International comes and ask you about your perception of corruption in the country, say something nice. Better still, just say that corruption is at a ‘normal’ level – by the low African standards. Please help your country to move up on the league table of the world’s least corrupt nations and keep singing the ‘zero tolerance for corruption’ tune. Excellently yours, J. A. Fukuor [email protected]

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