Long, long time ago - I believe it was in the seventies - there was a popular Highlife song with the title: 'EbeyeYie Ni?'If my memory serves me right, I think it was composed by KwadwoDonkorand recorded by The Ogyatanaa Band.
The summary of the lyrics of the song is something like this: 'Will things ever be well? We've waited from days to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. So are we going to have to wait like this till the end of time, my people? The Christian Leaderhas asked us to pray; we have prayed. The Muslim Leader has asked us to give alms to the poor; we've done that. The Traditional Priest has asked us to pour libation; we've done that. Yet we're still where we've always been, so what are we supposed to do again to turn things around, my people?'.
Well, thosewords arenot mine but the lyrics of a song. But come to think of it, even though the song is about 30 years oldaren't those words atrue reflection of the situation in which we find ourselves today? The irony, and the consolation though is that as a people we draw inspiration from the saying that: 'ebeyeyie' (it shall be well). Well, I am not a pessimist, but gradually and frankly, I'm beginning to wonder if indeed 'ebeyeyieni?' But please, no politics here! I'm talking about Ghana and not about any political party whether in or out of power.
The IGP's Warning/Advice to Ghanaians
No so long ago, the Inspector of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Alhassan, is reported to have warned civilians to stop 'harrassing' the Police with bribes when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Oh ho, Mr. IGP! So hesincerely believes that Ghanaians love paying moneyso much thatit is they who HARRASS unwilling Policemen with money.The truth of the matter, as is well known to everybody except the IGP, is that the Police, by a well-designed strategy, put people in a situation where they are left with no option than to pay what the Police demands from them, usually after bargaining. After all, who has more power over the other, the Police or the civilian? The unfortunate situation created by this warning is that I for one, and I'm sure many others too,will no longer have the courageto report the bad deeds of a Policeman/woman to the IGP or any of his lieutenants.You run the risk offinding yourself at 'counter-back' on charges of 'bribe harassment of a Police Officer' if you try.
We Know But Pretend We Don't Know
But to be fair to the IGP I think it has to be said that he's not the only public official who appears not to know what everybody else knows. In fact, what I would call 'institutional lying' has become so much part of our life that nobody cares about it anymore. For example, we all know how irritating it is when you cannot make a phone call on your PRE-PAID telephone line but is it not an insult when theykeep giving you a message that you very well know is not true? It always starts with 'the (XYZ) number you have dialled.' Instead of telling the truth that owing to the inefficiency of their system your callcannot be processed at that particular moment, they tell you all sort of lies, including that the number that just called you is switched off, or perhaps even most annoyingof it all, that the number does not exist.In other words, even machines are programmed to tell lies to us.
So even though everybody knows thatpeople have to pay specific sums of money to gain entry into any of the security services they will brush it aside as a mere allegation.While everybody knows that heads of some private schools use unconventional means, including illegal acquisition of examination questions and collusion with Invigilators to secure great results for their candidates they will tell you 'the allegations are unfounded'.We all know that before the confirmation of District, Municipal or Metropolitan Chief Executives envelopes are passed around to influence Assemblymen and Women, yet they will tell you it is a wicked lie.And please permit me to ask if indeed it is true that some Judges people receive money to influence their judgement of cases and it is lawyers who actually facilitate this? As for me I'm asking because I don't know and don't want to believe it. And as for the 'allegation' thatprospective voters are given various items and sums of moneyto vote for a particular party or candidate during General Elections the less said about it the better.
And Where Are Our 'Nananom'?
There was a time when every word that came from the mouth of 'Nana' was nothing but the truth. But what do we see nowadays? There are many chiefs who travel 'solo' around in Ghana but when they decide to travel abroad they go with a full retinue of supposed sub chiefs and servants. At the end of the day Nana will quietly return to Ghana alone to start preparing for when and who next will join the next delegation abroad. Of course it would have been a different story if Nana was only using his position to help the unemployed youth in his traditional area to try their luck somewhere else. But no; Nana did that for a fee and is in fact a 'connection man'.
There was a time when any person in robe and collar was recognised as a true 'Man of God' who you could confide in. Now you do so at your own risk and peril. Many of them, when they tell you to look up you better check what's on the ground.
The Root Cause of Corruption in Our Society'
Corruption, like prostitution can be found in any part of the world but it is the way ours seems to have become a way of life that makes it special. And to me, I think so long as our systems continue to remain the way they are there isn't much we can do about it. To the best of my knowledge nobody pays bribe to posta parcel to anywhere in the world and this is so only because the system is so simple and transparent. But when it comes to receiving even a small parcel (from abroad) from a post office or port it is a different story altogether. In other countries the notification that you have a parcel to collect comes with the exact amount - duties, taxes or charges -you have to pay. You go and pay the amount and you collect your parcel.In Ghana it may take you half a day just toknow how much you have to pay. And after that even where to pay is another problem.
Acquiring A Driving Licence
Just the other day I decided to assist a young friend of mine to acquire a driving licence so I asked him to go to the DVLA office to make enquiries. He came back and told me they say it would cost 'about' GHC500.00. Not quite convinced, I called a number he gave me and got the breakdown which indeed totalled 'about' GHC500.00. In a society where GHC500.00 is bigger than the salaries of many categories of workers including drivers, is this amount right? For me it is like paying more for an examination fee than for the course itself, and it is these things that breed corruption.
Dear Reader who are reading this, do you know the expiry date of the Fire Extinguisher in your car, or for those of you residing outside Ghana how many times have you been asked by the Police (doing serious work at a check point) to produce your Fire Extinguisher, let alone taken to court on charges that yours has expired? And these are the areas the Police exploit! They will collect your licence on the pretext of examining its validity. Normally you would expect that they would give it back to you once they see that it is valid and genuine. But not the Ghana Police! Even when they see that your vehicle was certified as Road Worthy the previous day they will go on and inspect it until they find fault with either your Red Triangle or Fire Extinguisher. And I wish the IGP would one day be a witness to how his boys and girls bargain with their victims in the full glare of other people. It is therefore unfortunate that he seems to doubt the basis on which his outfit has for three successive years won the unenviable title as the 'Most Corrupt Institution in Ghana'.
But to be fair to the Police I think it has to be said that they are encouraged to behave the way they do because of what goes on in our courts. Why, for example, should a competent court of law fine a driver an amount bigger than the average monthly salary of many Ghanaians on a charge that his Fire Extinguisher has expired or that he does not have the right Red Triangle? Add that to the number of days you may have to attend court sittings (if you dare) and perhaps you'll understand the reason why people prefer to settle the 'on-the-spot fine' imposed on them by the Police rather than leave their licence in their care. In fact chances are that your case may never be called but you may never get your licence back because you can't even trace the Policeman.
We can continue to pray as much as we can, give alms to all the poor people in the world and pour libation to invoke the spirits of all our ancestors but not until our systems are put right and our traditional leaders, our religious leaders, our political leaders and heads of state institutions learn to speak the truth and demonstrate sincerity in all that they do, our hope that it will one day be well will remain nothing but a dream.
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