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17 March 2017 | Opinion/Feature

Over 110 Ministers? Ladies & Gentleman, We Just Lost The Fight Against Corruption

Ben Ofosu Appiah
Over 110 Ministers? Ladies & Gentleman, We Just Lost The Fight Against Corruption

Forgive me if I feel offended by this extremely large size of government announced by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. Many Ghanaians I have spoken to see no justification for having actually 111 Ministers and their deputies in an impoverished country like Ghana. It is a manifestation of corruption itself to run such an over bloated government. In my opinion, the government has just dropped the ball on the fight against corruption with this singular act.

Nana Akufo Addo promised to protect the national purse and we believed him but with 111 Ministers and deputies, plus some special advisors and personal aides to come, the national purse is not being protected here. All these people will be drawing salaries and allowances and will be driving around in brand new V8 Land Cruisers drawing free fuel, and with the sense of entitlement for the Ghanaian politician, they will demand state bungalows, free electricity, free water and all the freebies attached to holding political office in this country. We are in for a very rough ride. How much is the salary of a Minister of state and that of his deputy?

There is abundance of V8 Land Cruisers with their gas guzzling capacity engines driven by government appointees all over the country. We were told many of them were stolen by the appointees of the previous government to the extent that the President had to rely on his old BMW for a state function. This means we will acquire a fleet of brand new vehicles for the presidency and all these Ministers. The poor Ghanaian taxpayer’s money is used to buy, service and fill the tanks. On the other hand there is lack of boreholes in the villages to supply good drinking water to the poor farmers whose toil supplied the money used by government to purchase these SUV’s. There are no hospitals but a hospital may cost a lot of money to put up but a borehole cost an average of 2000 dollars to construct. There are no books in our libraries but we prefer to drive in SUV’s and to hell with our children’s future. We beg for aid at the least opportunity but we misapply them to support the ostentatious lifestyle and the sense of entitlement of a few once we receive them, and then go around the world begging for more.

Nana Addo’s government has been in office for about 70 days. Apart from the lip service paid to fighting corruption we have not seen any concrete action in this regard. In less than 30 days, the new government will reach that critical 100 days in office milestone, what will be its achievement? What goals did the government set for itself for the first 100 days? I would have thought, getting back our money from Woyome would be one of the first priorities for this government in its first 100 days in office to set the tone to redeeming all the loot from the previous government: - GYEEDA, SUBAH, SMARTTYS, ASONGTABA, SADA, VP Residence inflated contract and all the other loots from the inflated contracts by the NDC government. We haven’t seen any real work in that direction. When will the “protection of the public purse” start? Will it ever start at all?

Remember in 2000 President Kuffour said all the right things about fighting corruption when he took office. He even declared ZERO TOLERANCE for corruption and in fact made an example of it with his Sports Minister Alhaji Issah but what happened later? Ghanaians can judge for themselves. Corruption was justified as being as old as Adam, critics who accused government of corruption were asked to provide evidence. The existence of corruption was described as just a public perception. In politics perception counts and it is just as powerful as reality. The perception of NDC’s incompetence and corruption led to them being voted out of office.

While I will choose a government that has whatever number of ministers and delivers real results any day over one that loots everything that has a name and presides over the same criminal plunder of the state by a bunch of greedy bastards, we would like Nana Addo’s government to be a listening government. A government that cares about the people and listens to what they say. The verdict now is 111 Ministers and deputies is insane. It is outrageous, it is scandalous. Trim the government to size. Ghana doesn’t need more than 30 Ministers if you ask me. The United States runs the world’s largest economy with 32 Ministers, Japan runs the world’s third largest economy with just 17 Ministers and even our neighbor Nigeria has just 36 Ministers. Why do we need 111 Ministers in Ghana? I am struggling to find a good reason for this but I can’t. If the battle is the Lord’s you don’t need a large army to win victory, Nana Addo.

Needless to say we need to cut our coat according to our size. This is going to be a serious drain on our national coffers. I believe we can’t justify this to our development partners whose help we seek to rebuild our shattered economy. Plus I am sure all these “honourables” will be making extra demands on government which will take resources away from pursuing the bread and butter issues that the masses of Ghanaians care so much about that they voted for change. A word to a wise is enough.

Ben Ofosu Appiah,
Accra – Ghana.
The writer is a senior public policy expert, policy strategist, political, economic and social analyst who has written extensively on governance and economic issues in Africa. He welcomes your comments: [email protected] Tel. # +233 26 765 5383.

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