A two yearlong undercover investigation by Tiger Eye PI led by Ace investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas has resulted in a documentary titled Number 12. The film has brought out some earthquake revelations about the Ghanaian elite and the political system.
In today’s world, the perception of corruption is just as bad as corruption. That is why you have corruption perception indexes. Number 12 does not only bring up the perception of corruption amongst the current government administration in Ghana but the video actually shows instances of corruption “by way of match fixers, bribe takers, integrity fakers. From referees to officials, Anas’ allegations painted a stark picture of an institution filled with holes. Bribes [ranging] from GhC300 to GhC5,000 were accepted to fix matches”.
At the end of this piece, we will look at the socio-political implications of the corruption perception for Ghana.
In this video, the former FA President stated that the investor (who in fact was an investigative journalist) could have his way in Ghana if he would bribe the following people:
President Nana Akufo-Addo: Nyantakyi claimed that Anthony Karbo, Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways had requested the “investors” to make available $5 million to be given to Akufo-Addo. In exchange, he said, Akufo-Addo would ensure that they had instant access to lucrative contracts in the roads sectors.
He said Akufo-Addo and his family were broke because they sold their property to finance the 2016 elections, adding that Karbo had assured him that the $5 million would be greatly appreciated by the president.
Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia: Nyantakyi stated that the bribe to vice-president should be $3 million in exchange for helping the “investors” land lucrative contracts.
Anthony Karbo, Deputy Minister for Roads and Highways: Alleged architect of deal, go-between and facilitator of the bribery scandal. Nyantakyi alleged Karbo as saying that there would be contracts awarded as loan were approved by China.
Kwasi Amoako-Attah, Minister for roads and Highways: $2 million to the minister to secure cooperation in their bid to land lucrative contracts.
Kennedy Agyapong, Member of Parliament for Assin Central: Nyantakyi mentioned that Karbo wanted him to include Kennedy Agyapong in the deal because of his influence within the government. This is so he does not upset the deal.
Francis Asenso-Boakye, Deputy Chief of Staff: Alleged facilitator of access to the president.
Mr. Nyantakyi in the film, boasts of his close ties to the Presidency and alleges that President Akufo-Addo sold his properties to defray costs accrued after winning the 2016 Elections. He also claimed that all road contracts in Ghana are inflated, stressing that "overpasses" of the same standard conducted in New York and Ghana cost $70 million and $150 million respectively. Nyantakyi is also heard telling undercover reporters that the Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, was the Assin Central MP’s pick.
“The guy who is there [at the Transport Ministry], Asiamah; that is his [Kennedy Agyapong’s] small boy,” Kwesi Nyantakyi said.
“So, he [Karbo] mentioned that they wanted to make him [Kennedy Agyapong] a minister because of the contribution he made to the campaign. [Kennedy Agyapong] says he cannot be a minister because he is not a disciplined person to be a minister. But they [the government] gave him a ministry. They created a ministry and gave it to him and he nominated somebody as the minister. Yes, Ministry of Transport.”
In a meeting with Anas' Tiger Eye PI collaborators who posed as a businessman, Nyantakyi is captured soliciting sums of money on behalf the President ($5million), Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia ($3million), the Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah ($2 million) and his deputy Anthony Karbo ($1million).
TRANSCRIPT OF MR. NYANTAKYI
You wanted to know how I will receive the money and transmit to the President. I have a microfinance company. So you can move the entire $12m (President $5m + Vice President $3m + Min of Transport $2m + Dep Min of Transport $1 + GFA President & Abu $1) through it. Like I indicated I will share the money by giving $5m to the President, $3m to the Vice President. The Highways Minister will get $2m. My boy, Anthony Karbo will take $1m. Myself and Abu, will share the $1m. I will settle Asenso Boakye.
I will arrange a private meeting between you and the President. Look, the President sold a lot of properties before winning the election. He needs money. All his brothers are complaining that they don’t have money. The $5m will greatly help the President. Asenso Boakye tells me the President is in Qatar, I will speak to him if we can meet him there." Tomorrow will settle everything. I know that the Chinese money is coming. It is about $2bn. I have spoken to Anthony Karbo. He has assured me that even though the Chinese will be doing the construction of the bridges in the northern part of Ghana,the stones and chippings alone can bring about $100m.
So Anthony Karbo wants us to establish a Ghanaian company. Anthony Karbo also advised that we must make Ken Agyapong a shareholder. Ken does not fear anyone. Once we have him on our side, we will have our peace of mind. Nobody will fight us."
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DENIAL AND APOLOGY
The political elite implicated in this video has since denied the claims by the former FA President. But on social media, the following comment stuck out:
The irony of the video ... everyone believes 100% what Mr. Nyantakyi said about Kennedy Agyapong … but refuse to believe everything he said about the President and Vice President!
Mr. Nyantakyi has since released a signed statement of apology:
I wish to clarify that at no time prior to or subsequent to any deliberations on the video did I consult, contact or inform any Government official about discussions on the video. I take sole and personal responsibility for the proceedings on the video.
I wish to apologise to my family, work colleagues, friends, associates and the people of Ghana for the disappointment my indiscretion has caused them. This is by no means an admission of wrongdoing for issues on the video.
The Ghana Government has since dissolved the Ghana Football Association (GFA) because of the revelations of bribery and corruption in Number 12 within its ranks. In response to this action and other actions of government related to Number 12 revelations, Ace journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni responded in two separate tranches on social media:
When parliamentarians accused themselves of taking bribes, was parliament dissolved? When some deputy chiefs of staff were accused of corruption and others accused of taking bribes to facilitate meetings with the President, was the Flagstaff House dissolved? Why not target the individuals involved, instead of the institution, especially when it is a private one? And what will happen to those who may be declared innocent after going through investigations and the legal processes?
The government is becoming too predictable. Anas' Number 12 has Kwasi Nyantakyi mention the President and government officials. In what appears like an attempt to drown it, we had many CEOs fired yesterday. When the Kelni/GVG controversy was at its peak, the call for Nyantaky's arrest came in. This trick is becoming one too many and it is not funny!
IMPLICATIONS FOR GHANA
A Larger Problem
This problem is beyond the Ghanaian Football Association. Kwesi Nyantakyi is a full-blooded Ghanaian and so are the numerous persons caught on tape taking bribes. These persons did not fall from the stars. They are a representation of the greater Ghanaian fabric. It will do us no good to only point fingers at them without looking at the greater Ghanaian society. Over time, values and ethics within this community has eroded. These men are only a subset of the greater society suffering from eroding ethics, values and jaundiced patriotism.
It’s not only politicians or FA officials taking bribes but policemen, judges, customs officials etc. Tiger Eye PI has actual footage of all the aforementioned taking bribes. Such a status quo makes it difficult for countries such as ours to develop. Ghana would like to industrialize and add value to our primary products but if the ordinary citizen can not be counted upon to manage state owned farms (or industries), how can we count on them to govern state owned enterprises or some other publicly owned industries? How can investors come in and set up large scale enterprises if they cannot trust the average citizen to be transparent and honest in their dealings with the company?
Dissolving the Ghana Football Association (GFA) is simply plugging one of many holes. It is not a holistic sustainable solution that tackles the root of the problem. Ghanaians must ask the question and have the discussion on: What is the root of this problem?
It’s a mindset issue and this mindset can be reengineered. Patriotism is at an all-time low.
This saga has the potential to erode investor confidence in Ghana because of perceived corruption among political elites.
The deal was predicated on the fact that a loans had been approved by China for Ghana and from this loan, contracts would be awarded to the bribe giver(s). China (and investors in general) thus has every right to question what its money will be used for. Investors generally may get the perception that this is normalcy in Ghana and if so, find ways and means to protect their investments in a way that may not be favourable to Ghana’s long-time national interests.We will discuss more on this in the section on corruption perception below.
Number 12 has buttressed the idea and or perception internationally and locally that Ghanaian politicians, its GFA and society in general are corrupt and that with sufficient funds for the political elite, all things are possible.
When the international community and international business environment perceives high levels of public sector corruption in Ghana, this influences their cost of DOING BUSINESS in Ghana negatively. Some investors will stay away from countries because of perceived high costs of doing business while other business predators who have no interest in building Ghana but rather fleecing it will be attracted to come rape the country with the perceived help they hope to solicit by way of bribery and corruption from its political elites.
Transparency International has come up with a corruption perception index. What is Corruption Perception Index (CPI)?
1. An index created by Transparency International in 1995 to rank countries according to the extent to which corruption is believed to exist on a scale of zero to 10, with zero indicating the highest level of corruption and 10 indicating absence of corruption. Learn more in: The Impact of Corruption on Economic Growth: A Comparative Analysis between Europe and MENA Countries
2. Is the annual ranking of countries “by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. The CPI generally defines corruption as ‘the misuse of public power for private benefit’.”
According to TI Corruption Index, the rank for least perceived corrupt country in the African Union is Botswana (ranked 34th globally as at 2017), followed by Seychelles, Cabo Verde, Rwanda, Namibia, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principle, Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Tunisia in that order. Ghana comes after all of these these with a score of 40 and a rank of 81st out of 180 countries that were surveyed. The country with the least perceived corruption in the world is New Zealand ranking 1st out of 180 followed by Denmark at 2nd place. United States is ranked at 16th and China 77th. This means that the perception of corruption in Ghana (81st) is higher than in China (77th). This could be interpreted as, investors might be better off investing in countries where perceived corruption is less. like China than in Ghana ceteris paribus. Other countries where corruption is perceived to be less than Ghana are found in table below:
In other jurisdictions, Number 12 would have resulted in the investigation of the President and other implicated top politicians for their “perceived” corruption. President Donald Trump, for instance has been and is still being investigated for what some would deem lesser allegations of corruption. The FBI for instance can and does investigate a the sitting President. Why does that not transpire in Ghana? Must citizens just take the word of the president that he is innocent without any investigation of the persons named in Number 12? Are State agencies mandated, equipped and independent enough to investigate the President or his Vice President while they are in office? All of these questions need to be discussed within the public sphere, specifically that which has to do with anti corruption agencies.
I do not proffer answers to questions asked but the reality is Governance and government in the public sphere in Ghana is set up in such a way that national leaders can get away with almost anything. When governments come into power in Ghana, all statutory boards are dissolved as per the Presidential Transition Act. The new government reconstitutes boards and councils. The new president handpicks all the new heads of security agencies and other leaders in the public space. This gives the president and new political administration a measure of control over what is done by these agencies. There is hardly any independent organization to hold the Executive accountable. Parliament is supposed to do that but they themselves are sometimes fraught with bribery scandals. The judiciary have been exposed by the same Tiger Eye PI to be one of the most corrupt institutions of the State. It is thus difficult with the current model of government to have an independent organ that can investigate the President or top politicians creditably. In such a situation, transparency and accountability may only be a mirage. The above notwithstanding, Ghana needs a different model and ethic of governance that promotes accountability and transparency in such a way as to spur sustainable development in a meaningful and inclusive way.
Mr. Bright Simmons writes on Facebook:
5. In short: THE GHANAIAN ELITE WROTE THE RULES, and they have been seen on video discussing with those they thought were members of the international elite how the rules apply and are enforced. In technicolor, they bared their souls in what they believed were intimate settings. END OF STORY.
6. The only question is: how are you going to perceive their motives going forward? Would you continue to give them the benefit of the doubt when counter-elites take them on for this or that issue? Look, it should be quite clear to you now, especially if you are young and unconnected, that because of the rules they have written you can break your back with hard work, and think till your brain freezes, if you don't have the resources to PLAY THE GAME, you are going to STARVE. End of story.
What we can deduce from Mr. Simmons statements is the perception that hard work alone is not enough in Ghana. You need to be connected and have extra resources. In an Africa where 6 out of 10 people are under 24 years, this is not good news both for the youth and their governments i.e. if what is transpiring in Ghana is also transpiring elsewhere. This perception can have a demotivating influence on youthful innovation and enterprise. Ghanaians must work towards fix this in a sustainable way.
Mr. Simmons is right in stating that the rulebook is dictated by the Elite. And hence they get away with much but is it not time to change this status quo? Can it be changed? What will it take to actually have a government by the people and for the people and not a government that empowers a small group of Elite because of a poorly constructed political system and the winner-takes-all syndrome? Ghana must have this discussion and not at one televised townhall discussion but throughout the entire society at the national, regional, municipal and district levels.