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General News of Monday, 4 September 2006

Source: The Statesman

Ghana is corrupt from top to bottom

... Nkrumah knew where he was going.
Now .. we don't know where we are going.

The Right Honourable Peter Ala Adjetey, respected lawyer and former Speaker of Parliament, has stirred up a hornet's nest from which he is battling to extricate himself.

An interview he granted to a Foreign Correspondent of the Chicago Tribune and published in the reputable paper, on July 16, almost went unnoticed until the aggrieved former bosses of Ghana International Airlines Ltd used it as an excuse to have the commercial dispute between it and Government moved from Ghana to the jurisdiction of the United States. Their reason, a former Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana has been quoted as saying, Ghana is corrupt from top to bottom, including the judiciary.

The relevant portions of the report read:

"Kwame Nkrumah knew where he was going. He had a program. Now we have no program and we don't know where we are going. And I say that as a member of the ruling party."

The main impediment, he said, is the same one afflicting much of Africa: corruption.

Ghana's problem is hardly as severe as that in nearby Nigeria, where oil riches have spurred such egregious graft that the country rakes in billions of dollars a month but most of its people live in abject poverty. But even in Ghana, “corruption goes all through the government, from top to bottom,” Mr Adjetey said.

But the former Chairman of the New Patriotic Party and now head of the party's committee on legal and constitutional matters denies accusing the Kufuor administration of corruption.

In a rejoinder dated August 8, 2006, and addressed to the author of the story, Laurie Goering, Mr Ala Adjetey says he is “surprised” by the statements attributed to him about his stance on the state of corruption in the country, especially the claim that he believes Government is riddled with corruption.

“It is true that I spoke about corruption, but my focus was corruption in the judiciary, not in the government as a whole, although I agree that the judiciary can be said to be a part of government,” he wrote.

From an auspicious beginning, reflected in his chairing the NPP from 1995 1998, Mr Ala Adjetey has in recent times had a love-hate relationship with the government formed by the party after its electoral victory in 2000, the Kufuor administration.

He is the only Speaker in Ghana's democratic history who was re-nominated by the opposition party as Speaker, when his own party refused to renew his tenure, in 2005.

Perhaps most tellingly, he agreed to be nominated by the main opposition to his mother party, the National Democratic Congress, embarrassing the NPP and the government in the process. He eventually lost in the poll to elect a Speaker for the Fourth Parliament of the Fourth Republic.

Analysts who spoke to The Statesman have questioned the motive behind Mr Ala Adjetey's statements to the Tribune. Was it out of malice? Spite? Or was he misquoted?

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