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17.02.2004 Feature Article

EDITORIAL: Corruption in High And Low Places

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UNTIL WE recognise that the biggest obstacle to social equity is corruption, and that it remains the biggest impediment to including the majority of the people in the benefits of growth, this country would be going around in circles.

Corruption, by definition, is exclusive. It promotes the interests of the few over the many. We have to talk about it. We have to bring it to light. We have to fight it wherever we meet it, relentlessly.

The Chronicle believes this is the only way the problem can be attacked - a continuous no-holds-barred war in which the stakes are our very existence and being as a people determined to brave the numerous odds against us.

Our very attitudes and values underlie our efforts in this direction. So prevalent has corruption become that we tend to take it for granted. Apologists will say the boss is not corrupt but the people around him are. Or the boss is corrupt and the people around him wish he wasn't.

Sometimes they say they are all corrupt. The often-heard Twi dictum: "Obiara ba, saa!"

Thus is the impression created that the problem is an age-old, intractable and one we have to live with, willy-nilly. Was this not the rationale that informed President J.A. Kufuor during last year's NPP conference at Cape Coast?

Coming from one who had promised us a ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption, his words only served to further dampen the fervour of those who had taken him at his word - literally!

It has also taken the cold, unblinking and incorruptible stance of the media to compel the President to act, in his own office, against political mercenaries who used the "colour of their office" to indulge in the contemptible acts he so stridently decries.

This paper is of the opinion that if the government intends to maintain its status, then especially in this election year, it must be SEEN to be doing all it could to keep its own house clean. The PERCEPTION that there are different laws for different people must be obliterated. Nothing short of that can convince the sceptics who are already pointing fingers and saying: "ah, we told you so!"

The pervasive scent of corruption must not be everywhere. Surely, there are pockets of sanity, which must be nurtured to spread their healing aroma throughout the collective psyche of the nation.

The task of building a nation out of a disparate agglomeration of cultures and peoples is a daunting one - especially in an increasingly competitive world where each one is for oneself.

Without the discipline of hard work, honesty and patriotism, this task will seem insurmountable and we shall continue blowing hot and cold till the problem becomes cancerous, incurable and fatal. And we must not forget that nations do fail - witness Haiti and closer home, Somalia and until recently, Liberia.

Let all Ghanaians be made alive to the desperation of the straits we find ourselves in. We are battling in a world where we have no real friends - only interests to protect. Our leaders must take the broader, historical view; the long-term view that plans a generation ahead.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, say the Chinese.

Let us take the right steps, now!

Raymond Archer
Raymond Archer, © 2004

The author has 27 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: RaymondArcher

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