The former Press Secretary of the Conventions People's Party, Mr Nii Noi Duwunah, has stated that the public sector, is virtually in control of the running of the state and therefore it should be held accountable for its actions as stated in the Constitution of Ghana.
He said this during a public forum held by The Committee for Joint Action (CJA) in Accra on the theme 'Corruption in the Public Sector.'
He added that the public rather has the idea that it is only the politicians who are to be held accountable for their actions, but is oblivious to the fact that the public sectors are also to be held accountable.
Speaking at the forum, the main speaker, Mr Victus Azeem, General Secretary of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, (the local chapter of Transparency International, a non governmental agency set to check corruption of governments) defined corruption as the 'Abuse of entrusted power for private gain.' He stated that corruption facilitates drug peddling and armed robbery and leads to siphoning of funds meant for education.
Mr Azeem disclosed that corruption can be organisational, that is corruption within an organisation and personal corruption, which is corruption outside an institution. He said both personal and organisational corruption undermine institutional processes, since the making or unmaking of an organisation depends largely on the individual. He added that corruption can affect the judiciary, police and other institutions that are supposed to uphold the integrity of the nation.
He stated that the lack of systematic structures, uncondusive working environment and inadequate retirement benefits cause a lot of corruption in the public sector, but that these alone should not be enough reason for corruption.
He affirmed that Ghana's performance in the fight against corruption is not as impressive as desired and that it is still a huge problem for the country. He gave a breakdown of the country's standings in the fight against corruption from 1998 to 2008 according to Transparency International records. In 1999 the corruption level was 33.3% and in 2006 it rose a little to 33.6% and in 2008 it rose to 33.9%, it was all less than 40%.
He explained that the reason for this slow rise in our fight against corruption is that our leaders believe that the public owes them a duty to make their lives comfortable, as against the interest of the ordinary Ghanaian hence the unwillingness to fight corruption by politicians.
Mr Azeem further noted that, corruption is basically caused by greed, selfishness and little regard for the ordinary people. He said 'the incidence of corruption is higher in Africa and hits hardest at the poor and marginalised in the society.' He added that corruption has no benefits to the larger community and it poses a major stumbling block to development and denies the rule of law.
He suggested various ways of dealing with corruption such as the passage and enforcing of laws, such as the anti-money laundering laws and the Assets Declaration Law, good code of ethics to guide professionals and a change of attitude from the worshipping wealth to questioning its source.
He called on the President to fast track the Right to Information Law which will allow the public easy access to information on activities of Government.
Speaking at the forum Mr Kwesi Pratt, a political activist and the editor of the Insight newspaper, described corruption as an abuse of power for private gain. He appealed to the politician's conscience to have mercy on the impoverished people, to whom they go every four years to solicit for their votes.
Mr Pratt advised politicians and governments to stop the sacrificial lamb approach to issues and deal with the problems of their people.