One of the planks in the political agenda of the NPP Administration is ‘zero tolerance of corruption’. With my limited knowledge of English, I thought I understand the meaning of that plank. Subsequent events since 2000 have proved that either I do not understand what the phrase means or our President is insincere.
On the eve of Ghanaians independence, the then CPP Administration established the Cocoa Purchasing Company, a subsidiary of the Cocoa Marketing Board to grant loans to cocoa farmers. Before long, it was rumored that the company has become a citadel of corrupt practices. Though the colonial government did not have ‘zero tolerance of corruption’ as a slogan, a commission of enquiry was set up under the aegis of a learned Nigerian attorney. It was called the Jibowu Commission. The then Prime Minister even gave evidence during the commission’s hearing. The rest is history. The moral of this pre-independence incident is that those who do not tolerate corruption are galvanized into action when they have a faint odor of it. Mr. President please follow the precedent. Funds spent on such commissions would be better spent than ‘grants’ to MPs to acquire cars or funding of the Speaker’s vacation.
The alacrity with which your administration tackled the perceived corrupt act of the Deputy Minister of Sports raised our expectation because for the first opportunity, your ‘zero tolerance of corruption’ words were matched with your actions. Many objective and non partisan Ghanaians applauded the speed with which the debacle of the then Deputy Minister of Sports was handled. Some publicly jubilated. Subsequent events, it seems, have rendered it a premature jubilation. Since that initial euphoria, there have been a countless number of reports of impropriety by government officials. Indeed some of these reports may be emanating from sources with political axes to grind. No less a person than the former Vice President of Ghana has published a long catalogue of perceived corrupt practices committed under the NPP Administration. Yet absolutely nothing is being done about those accusations and reports. It is palpably; the initial euphoria has ebbed if not completely dissipated. T! he thrust of all efforts in the anti-corruption crusade has been to demonize the NDC regime. This, for political reasons is not only desirable but of least resistance. The perceived turning of deaf ears and blind eyes to the current rumors of corruption pervading the country is a blatant exhibition of a grotesque mishandling of the anti corruption crusade.
Recently, a Liberian national was indicted for acquiring the following important Ghanaian documents: 1) birth certificate 2) tax clearance certificate and 3) a passport.
The convict was able to obtain all the above documents by corrupt means. Somebody bribed somebody. In countries where dissipation of moral and corrupt intolerance is not on the ascendancy, the heads of the three relevant departments would roll. As usual our President would not act. We concede the fact that he is not omnipotent and omnipresent but at least we believe he reads Ghanaian newspapers. Given that his head, more often than not is above the clouds, because of his frequent travels I appeal to him to act now. Tragically, when his feet are on the grounds also, ostrich-like, he puts his head in the sand, he thus sees nothing. When his head is not in the sand, he wears blinkers and turns a deaf ear to issues Ghanaian. Mr. President either you are part of the solution or part of the problem. If you fail to act, do not be surprised when the letter head of your own office appear for sale at Kwame Nkrumah Circle or at Kejetia Bend
Under your watch, corruption is perceived to be on the rise. Please do something. I know with one hundred dollars ($100) I can procure at least five birth certificates in Ghana. In order to stop, if not minimize, the criminal procurement of multiple birth certificates and passports by Ghanaians, a law must be passed making it obligatory that children would only be admitted to primary schools on the production of birth certificates. Application for birth certificates should be made available free in post offices, police stations, residents of pastors, sheiks and chiefs. Any Ghanaian applicant for a birth certificate for anybody more than ten years old must pay a hefty fee. The fee should be for every year in excess of ten years. As example an application for eleven years old must pay a fee for one year. An application for 21 years old must pay a fee for eleven years. With such a system, we would limit the number of 35 year old Ghanaians besieging offices to obtain birth certi! ficates for the first time.
In Ghana consumers of electricity pay for non existent street lights. It is my opinion that such levies are taxes. We must call a spade. I pay state and federal taxes for my telephone service in New Jersey. I, in addition, pay state taxes for my gas consumption. If the government wants to tax electricity consumers it has the right. It must be plainly stated. It is deceptive and lies to name such taxes as being levies for street lights. One would like to enquire whether the funds so far collected are restricted for the installation of street lights. Secondly how much has so far been collected and used to finance the installation street lights by the Electricity Corporation. It could not be over emphasized that it is immoral to levy consumers of electricity for non existent street lights.
Mr. President, please lead, follow or get off the way. Either you are part of the solution or you are part of the problem Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.
November 7, 2003