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31.10.2014 Opinion

'I Knew I was Back Home' (1)

By Daily Guide
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'I will not pay bribes,
I will not seek bribes,
I will work with others to campaign against corruption,

I will speak out against corruption and report on abuse,

I will support candidates for public office who say no to corruption and demonstrate transparency, integrity and accountability.'

–Transparency International's Declaration Against Corruption

The title of today's article was taken from a lecture delivered by Dr. K.A. Busia, former Prime Minister to the students and staff of Mfantsipim School in the mid-sixties.

Dr. Busia had then returned from exile in Britain. He said when he arrived in the country and picked up the phone to speak to somebody, the voice and the reply at the other end told him that he was back home.

Customer service is one of the things Ghanaians have to learn. Dr. Busia, like most people, are always appalled at poor service rendered by persons entrusted with responsibility and paid to provide effective and efficient service.

The great irresistible, venerable late Prof. P.A.V. Ansah once suggested to the print media to always have a short column at the front page of newspapers titled: 'lest we forget' where they will publish snapshots from the oppressive, murderous, dictatorial, draconian, diabolical and corrupt PNDC military regime to remind Ghanaians of their terrible history and suffering under that regime headed by Flt.-Lt J. J. Rawlings.

Members of the Executive, the Judiciary, the Legislature and public office holders of all shades and levels are all paid from taxes collected from the citizens so that they can provide impeccable services to the citizens who fund their lifestyle.

Most of these people enjoy regular monthly salaries, free housing, free telephone calls, free water and electricity services, free day and night security, free chauffeur driven vehicle service, free fuel, free oversees travels, abundant scholarship schemes for their wards and bounty pension payout at the end of their service.

Some of them even retire on their salaries. As if that is not enough, some of them have buy their vehicles and bungalows offered to them while in office at knock down prices upon retirement.

All these are done for them so that they can be happy and above all comfortable to have a sense of duty free from conflict of interest to serve the citizens to the best of their might and ability.

Sadly enough all these juicy pecks enjoyed by all those in entrusted positions, whether elected or appointed, and meant to galvanize them to a call of honest day's duty rather act as catalyst to fuel the corrupt, filthy and glutinous lifestyle of many of them.

The type of collateral damage they use their entrusted positions to inflict on the country and by extension the citizens, who fuel their corrupt, filthy glutinous lifestyle out of their hard-earned income out of an honest day's labour in form of taxes is unimaginable.

The list of fraud and other corrupt acts they commit is too tall to list. They range from outright thievery of state property, dishonest behaviour and clear display of conflict of interest situations during negotiations on behalf of the country, loafing around during working hours, conspiring with criminal local and foreign gangs to siphon national resources out of the country, stealing of official time and state resources for private gains, seeking and taking bribes, using state resources to fund political ambitions, paying bribes to voters and electoral officials to corrupt the electoral system, uncouth public behaviour, nepotism, cronyism, tribalism  and  above all gross incompetence.

In the spirit of 'lest we forget' it is relevant to quote Prof. Sule Gambari and Busumuru Kofi Annan, who described the woes of the African continent and the type of educated illiterate elites who make it to public office.

The erudite Nigerian professor had this to say: 'Africa (and for that matter, Ghana) failed to produce a productive middle-class but instead had produced a parasitic elite that lived off the fat of the land through non-productive activities dependent on political patronage.

Busumuru chipped in this: 'In many countries in Africa and for that matter, Ghana the wrong kind have made it to leadership.

They see power for the sake of power and for their own aggrandizement rather than a real understanding of the need to use power to improve their countries.

The quality of the leaders, the misery they have brought to their people and my inability to work with them to turn the situation round are very depressing, unless we find a way of getting them to focus on resolving conflicts and turn to key issues of economic and social development, the effort that we are all making will be for naught.'

I just returned from Berlin, Germany where as the Chair of Ghana Integrity Initiative, the Ghana chapter of Transparency International (TI), I represented the national chapter as the Official Chapter Representative (OCR) at this year's the Annual Membership Meeting (AMM) of TI.

This year's meeting should have been held in Tunisia at the same time as the 16 th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC). Unfortunately, political events in Tunisia prevented the holding of the IACC in Tunisia, which compelled us to move TI's AMM to Berlin where the international secretariat of TI is located.

During the AMM, fresh elections were held to fill the vacant positions of Chair, Vice-Chair and some other board positions.

Huguette Labelle, a Canadian professor, who held the position of Chair for the past nine years, was replaced by Jose Carlos Ugaz Sanchez-Moreno from Peru as the new Chair while the position of Vice-Chair, which has also been held for the last nine years by Akere Muna, a Cameroonian lawyer was occupied by Elena A. Panfilova from Russia.

Transparency International (TI) is the global, non-governmental, non-profit civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption through more than 90 chapters and over 30 individual members worldwide and an international secretariat in Berlin, Germany.

Transparency International raises awareness of the damaging effects of corruption and work with partners in government, business and civil society to develop and implement effective measures to tackle corruption.

Transparency International's vision is a world in which government, politics, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption while transparency international's mission is to work to create changes towards a world free of corruption. Ghana Integrity Initiative is the Ghana chapter of Transparency International.

The former Chair, Madam Labelle visited Ghana at least on two occasions.

I tried to get the University of Ghana authorities to invite Madam Labelle to Ghana to deliver an Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lecture.

Perhaps corruption is not seen as a topic worthy of intellectual discourse.

At the AMM, some resolutions were passed and one which should be of particular interest to the nation and the Justice Dzamefe World Cup Commission of Enquiry was on FIFA.

The resolution read as follows: 'World football's governing body, FIFA must take concrete steps to win back trust in sport governance at a time when corruption threatens the integrity of sport. The ability for sport to act as a force for good in the world is compromised when sports oraganisations are not held to the highest standards of good governance and accountability. Following the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively it was alleged that FIFA executive committee members had taken bribes.

FIFA initiated an investigation by its Ethics Committee, known as the Garcia Report, which it has now said will remain secret.

Transparency International calls on FIFA to publish this report (in a form that respects the rights of individuals who agreed to give evidences anonymously) so that anyone who has been involved in bribery or wrongdoing is held to account.'

E-mail: [email protected]
  BY  Kwame Gyasi

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