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16.05.2005 Feature Article

The Enemy Within: Corruption In Government Part II

The Enemy Within: Corruption In Government Part II
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In major public fora, international conferences, symposia, and also throughout my writings I have identified corruption, mismanagement and bad governance as major problems inhibiting African development. In most cases, I have had many who agreed with my assessment of the situation in Africa but in some cases there have been some disagreements, with some saying corruption is everywhere including even in the developed countries. Let me say here that, corruption in all its forms is bad. However, the corruption that is sometimes found in developed countries is qualitatively different from what pertains in the Third World particularly in Africa. In the developed world hardly do you see politicians dipping their hands into state coffers and embezzling state funds or hardly do you see funds earmarked for state projects and national development finding its way into private bank accounts and the projects abandoned. What happens sometimes, is a contract may be awarded to a company or a contractor with the “right” connections political or whatever but the contract gets awarded and the money is used for the purpose for which it was intended and the public benefits. Contrast that to the African situation, in most cases the contract is not awarded at all, or if it is awarded at all the project never gets done, no jobs are created, the public never benefits from it, but the money finds its way into private pockets and the state is the loser. We cannot move forward in such a situation. This has confined millions of Africans into poverty and underdevelopment and unless we address these issues no amount of foreign aid or Marshall plan can help lift Africa. We need to come to the fundamental realization that development begins with the basics of good governance.

Ghana needs men and women of integrity to administer the affairs of the nation. A new generation of Ghanaian politicians who are hungry for a REAL CHANGE in a country that continues to be mired in economic stagnation, crime and graft among public officials. The current administration lacks people of such caliber. When the NPP took power in 2001, some leading members of the party including the current Chairman Haruna Esseku and Kwamena Bartels boasted the party would rule Ghana for thirty six years, and the vice president added the party is full of men of integrity who were self made before entering politics. Now in the light of Asawase and the massive revelation of corruption in government, and the president's inability to deal with it, can they stand by their statements? From Wereko Brobbey, to Alhaji Bamba to Edumadze to Anane and GIA, to Akumfi Ameyaw and GRC deal, and the latest , the Energy Commission and the president's gutter-to-gutter play mates in Ash-Town. etc the list goes on and on. One is tempted to ask over and over again: Why is the president not acting to clean up the mess and the rot around him? I think there is a compelling case for action in all these cases and many others not mentioned here. Is he really in charge or he is simply not aware of what's going on around him? I wonder what kind advice he gets from people around him. Are they willing to go the extra mile by laying all the facts before him no matter how bitter it may be and advising him on principles or just sing his praises in search of their own daily bread? If he fails to act promptly against corruption and mismanagement and posterity passes its judgement on his administration it will be harsh indeed and long after he leaves office he can be called upon to answer questions about his leadership failures.

In the face of bad governance, frustrations, disappointments and deceptions perpetrated against the good people of Ghana, Can the NPP hold on to power in 2008? No wonder some in the party see the present trend of affairs as being dangerous to the future of the party and have started calling on the president to exercise leadership. They fear that if the corruption issue is not handled properly and firmly, it might tip the balance in favour of the NDC in future elections. Some party members are also too busy acquiring permanent residences abroad in preparation for life in self imposed exile. But why run away from justice if you believe you served your country with integrity and to the best of your ability? The ineffectiveness of the NPP government is making NDC look too good. The NDC as a party has a long way to go but it getting mileage because of the way the NPP is governing and its failure to meet the expectations of Ghanaians. The NDC has therefore been given a golden opportunity to redeem itself.

The NPP administration increasingly beset with blunders, scandals, faltering discipline is in danger of losing steam ahead of 2008 that may speed its descend into the political wilderness again. The security situation is worsening day in and day out, armed robbers run wild committing crimes that range from the brutal to the bizarre, the cost of living keeps soaring, unemployment is at unprecedented level, management of the economy has been very sloppy, and numerous scandals involving government ministers and appointees. It's all looking rather bleak. The signs of wear and tear are everywhere. Those who truly have the interest of the party at heart are very nervous about its future now. The loss in Asawase was a huge moral blow and a timely warning but it was also the most striking example of voters reaction to the decay in the administration. Kuffour's downhill journey is accelerating. There are serious problems, the administration is falling apart and the problems keep proliferating. Confidence in the party will rise again if the President starts governing with integrity, discipline and professionalism. If he shows real commitment instead of paying lip service to the fight against corruption. Every Ghanaian labouring to feed his family, educate his children, care for a family member suffering from malaria or any other preventable disease, the one without job and struggling to survive is a victim of yesterday's and today's corruption in government. I often raise the issue of corruption in government because I passionately care about Ghana's future. If the president fails to act to punish his gutter-to-gutter play mates in Ash Town, his nephews and nieces and old classmates, and others in government who are giving the party a bad name, and committing despicable acts of criminality, the future of the party is doomed. If these people are made to account and pay the right penalty for their criminal acts, it will be a sign to the people of Ghana that law and order prevails not men with ties to the presidency. One way of boosting the fight against corruption is to separate the office of the Attorney General from that of the Minister of Justice. The A-G's office must be non political to give it the independence it needs to accomplish its task of investigating and prosecuting corrupt officials both in and out of government. As it stands now, the NPP appears incapable of investigating itself. Ben Ofosu-Appiah The author is a political and social commentator and also a corporate trainer based in Tokyo, Japan. He welcomes your comments, suggestions and criticim Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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