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25.04.2005 General News

Fighting Corruption In Ghana Is A Waste Of Time

By Chronicle

- 'MP of Intergrity' spills beans - Says crusade started long before NPP assumed power Accra, April 25, Chronicle - The Member of Parliament (MP) for the Asikuma-Odobeng-Brakwa constituency, Hon. Paul Collins Appiah-Ofori, who is known for spearheading the anti-corruption war in government and parliament, has stated that going by the frustrations he went through recently in his bid to expose the corrupt deeds of some people in the system, he had noticed that fighting corruption was a mere waste of time.

He noted that apart from the NPP-led government of the day, the parliament, and indeed the PNDC of yesteryears, also failed to encourage those who openly led crusades on corruption.

Hon. Appiah-Ofori said this in a lengthy interview he had with Mr. Daniel Batidam of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) after the recent vetting in parliament.

Answering questions on what his expectations were about the future of fighting corruption in the society, the 'MP of Integrity' retorted: “From what I went through a few weeks ago, I can say that if you think you are fighting corruption and you think you will succeed, you are only wasting your time.”

He added that for as long as audit reports were kept away from parliament, any individual that would venture to carry the responsibility of fighting against the canker would be daydreaming.

He confided that if he had President Kufuor's ear for only five minutes, he would tell him to the face that the fate of the NPP in future elections would largely depend on whether he retained or exposed corrupt ministers in his government.

“I would tell him that whether the NPP would retain power or not depends on him. If he is unwilling to put his foot down to punish any corrupt minister or person, then he is creating problem for the party because when the reckoning day comes, the people of Ghana will use such acts or omissions to judge the party…”

Hon. Appiah-Ofori said he started fighting corruption several years before the NPP came to power, and recalled how in 1982, he exposed the then Managing Director of Bibiani Metal and Wood Complex and saved the country several millions of cedis, which were then stashed in foreign accounts.

He claimed some members of the PNDC later shared the money, and when he called them thieves, they placed him under detention and tortured him.

According to the MP, he continued to wage the 'war' when he became the chairman of the Assurances Committee and Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) Committee in the last session in parliament, and no doubt, he was removed this time because he took on the ministers whenever they got out of their way.

“I wrote to the ministers to account for the ¢29 trillion given to them to bring down the level of poverty in Ghana. When I wrote to the ministers, certain personalities accused me of trying to probe the government, and therefore I was not surprised that when the opportunity slipped into their hands from the beginning of this term, I was completely replaced as the chairman of these committees,” he lamented.

On the Central Regional Minister, Hon. Isaac Edumadze, the Asikuma-Odobeng-Brakwa MP expressed disappointment at the fact that in spite of the documentary evidences he placed before the committee, and despite the special appeals he had made to the president, the committee recommended the nominee's approval and the president went ahead to swear him in. “This is very disappointing,” he said.

He hinted the GII that last year, he single-handedly exposed a company that collected taxes and VAT to the tune of ¢56.75 billion between 1998 and 2003 and failed to account for it. The anti-graft crusader said he would continue to fight any corrupt government in future, whether he remained an MP or not.

An accountant by profession, Hon. Appiah-Ofori came to the limelight in the aftermath of the first round of vetting of the then nominees by the Vetting Committee in February, this year.

It is recalled that, based on his appeal and those of others, three of the nominees had their appointments deferred until further checks were done on the credibility of the evidences.

Even though Hon. Edumadze was cleared, some observers opined that the petitioner was not given the 'deserved' opportunity to prove his case.

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