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General News of Tuesday, 10 September 2019


Ghana’s anti-corruption campaigns in the past 19 years that yielded no results

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

The Ghanaian government has been marinated in corruption even before independence.

Most institutions that are challenged with the prevalence of corruption are the natural resource management, the judiciary, and the police services.

Many governments in power have effortlessly put systems in place to curb the ‘nation impoverishing’ menace but apparently, little progress has been made.

A study by IMANI (a think tank based in the country) found that Ghana loses more than US $3 billion a year to corruption. It has also been asserted that the political leaders in government who are tirelessly working hard to curb the menace are also its perpetrators.

This makes the issue of corruption a hard nut to break; even though in doing so, the Ghanaian socio-economic condition would improve significantly, and the citizens would enjoy a better quality of life.

Here is an introspection into the corruption scandals of the past 19 years and the subsequent anti-corruption campaigns instituted by the presidents of the time towards solving the problem.

John Agyekum Kufuor (January 2001 to January 2009)

John Agyekum Kufuor

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor was sworn into office in January 2001 and served as president for the next eight years. His government also faced the challenge of corruption. In his first year in office, the Minister of Finance reported of ghost names on the public payroll that caused great financial loss to the state. The amount was estimated to be about 300 billion Ghana cedis.

Ex-president Kufuor’s comment about corruption; “Corruption was as old as Adam” caused a national uproar. To the citizens, his statement was his way of endorsing the act.

He, however, justified his statements at the DreamOval Thoughts Transfer Series by saying, “… And so; when anybody tells you that corruption was there from Adam, that person is not really endorsing corruption; no. The person is rather reminding you to go back to history and see how your forebear Adam fell so you become wiser not to go that way.”

Again in Kufuor’s administration, the Centre for Justice and Accountability highlighted lack of Ministerial public accountability. There was a prevalence of corruption and maladministration.

According to the CJA, there was corruption in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration, the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing. In 2005, the CJA listed eight ministries under Kufuor’s administration that lost the public’s 440,814,014,679 cedis largely due to corruption.

The daughter of J.K Busia, Ama Frema Busia, who was an NPP supporter during Kufuor’s administration publicly asserted that the basic principles governing his administration were greed and corruption.

The then-president, Kufuor, however, introduced several anti-corruption initiatives like; the E-governance programme, Improved procurement act, and transparency bills such as the Whistleblower bill.

The E-governance programme focused on facilitating the effective delivery of government services to the general public, and to also provide good government-wide electronic means of sharing information and knowledge through a network infrastructure developed to connect major towns and cities, Ministries, Departments and agencies; and other public sector organizations in Ghana.

The Whistleblower bill is a call to the citizenry to expose any information or activity that is illegal or unethical within both public and private organizations. The Whistleblower is being protected under a number of laws.

Kufuor’s administration improved Ghana’s Public Procurement Law, ACT 663. The public procurement entails rules, methods and processes by which institutions in government are mandated by the law to use to acquire goods, services, and works using public funds.

In one of former president Kufuor’s recent speeches on corruption at Accra’s Annual Leadership Lecture on 12th December 2018, he said, “Another major global expectation of national leaderships is a vigorous fight against corruption. Indeed, it is very instructive to note that frequently quoted global estimates of the cost of corruption is that more than 5% of global GDP, or approximately US$ 2.6 trillion, is lost to corruption each year around the world. It is further reported by the ONE Campaign that an estimated US$1 trillion flows out of developing countries each year through a web of corrupt activities including illegal tax evasion, money laundering, use of shell companies, and shady deals in natural resources exploitation. And, there is a substantial body of research regarding the macroeconomic effects of corruption which indicates that, overall, corruption has a serious negative effect on economic growth. Not only these, there is also a reported correlation between higher levels of corruption and increased inequality, and, in turn, higher levels of poverty. The international community therefore seriously frowns on corruption and enjoins all governments to intensify the fight against this menace. Indices such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index are thus used to gauge the level of corruption in different countries.”

The late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills. (January 2009 – 2012)

John Evans Atta Mills

The late former president, John Evans Atta Mills, who passed away while in power also faced the challenge of corruption in his short-lived administration. In 2009, barely a year after he assumed office, the functionaries of his party, the NDC was alleged to have received at least one million dollars in bribery payments from the TAQA, a United Arab Emirates-based majority shareholder of the Aboadze thermal plant. TAQA paid millions of dollars bribes to politicians in the energy sector so they could triple the outputs of the Takoradi Power Station.

Atta Mills' administration was also accused of inflating project costs and paying the surplus money to the NDC government officials. An example is the inflation of the cost of building a six classroom block to 260,000 Ghana cedis. Also, the 10 billion STX housing project is alleged to have been inflated to as much as 40% in his administration. References were made to his then Vice President, John Mahama as one of the bad nuts in his administration.

Atta Mills in his bid to fight corruption, assigned ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, to investigate and report on corrupt officials within government institutions, specifically the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

John Dramani Mahama (July 2012 – January 2017)

John Dramani Mahama

John Mahama took over as president after the demise of the Late Ex-president John Evans Atta Mills in 2012. His administration was one of the most highly criticized in Ghana’s political history.

Under his administration, four giant supporters of his party were arrested and charged with corruption in a court in Accra. One of the corrupt officials was Alfred Agbesi Woyome, who was charged with robbing the state of 51m Ghana cedis.

Also charged were Chief Attorney Samuel Nerquaye- Tetteh, his wife and the finance ministry’s legal director for aiding a crime.

In 2010, President Mahama, as the vice president of the late Atta Mills secretly wrote to the Pierson Capital Group, where he took steps to commit Ghana to international loan exposures without the knowledge of President Mills. He denied the letter as a forgery and lamely admitted he wrote it after there were threats of a CID investigation.

These allegations made the citizenry put a keen eye on his administration.

The numerous allegations of corruption against Mahama’s administration made him take some anti-corruption initiatives. He brought about the publication of a code of ethics for government appointees in 2013.

The code of ethics contains information that makes all public officials know the situations/conducts that could cause them to lose their jobs, and it covers the issue of corruption.

John Mahama also embarked on the ‘Accounting to the people tour’ and Anti-corruption summits organized by the UK government. He made some statements about the Anti-corruption summit: “The London summit provides an opportunity to demonstrate once again the measures we have been adopting to strengthen our fight against corruption, combat money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism”.

However, his largely criticized government in cases of corruption in office contributed enormously to his downfall in the 2016 general elections.

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (January 2017 – Present)

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo

Ghana’s current president, Nana Akufo Addo’s administration is also being heavily criticized because of the many corruption scandals in his administration.

After attempting a shot at the presidential seat for many years, citizens were eager to see what he would bring to the table in fighting corruption now that he has been elected.

Akufo Addo’s headline policy of free SHS for all also created a major corruption scandal when it was rolling out.

According to the senior minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, the Heritage Fund which is made of 9% of the country’s annual petroleum revenue will be used to sustain the policy. Many people in the country expressed their disappointment, as the decision would be fatal to the future of the country.

The president’s administration has 110 ministerial appointees, which is the largest since Ghana’s independence. Some citizens say it is a way for the president to loot from the country’s national coffers.

There have been many other corruption scandals like the 800,000 Ghana cedis saga, where the Ministry of Special Development and Initiatives budgeted to use 800,000ghc for a new website. This sparked a national uproar but it was approved anyway because of the ruling party’s large numbers in parliament.

One of the key anti-corruption strategies by the president is the formation of the office of the special prosecutor and the appointment of Mr. Martin Amidu, as the chief special prosecutor to deal with cases of corruption in the public agencies.

In Vice President Bawumia’s key note address at the Occupy Ghana Vs. Attorney General Anniversary lectures in Accra in June 2019, he stated some steps the government has taken towards fighting corruption.

“The government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo is putting in place the systems and institutions that will help us going forward. The online systems we are putting in place have virtually eliminated corruption at DVLA, Passport office and business registration at the Registrar-General’s Department. We have reduced corruption at the ports through the paperless reforms. The Auditor General has so far disallowed some Ghc 5billion of government expenditure; we have passed the Right to Information Act, Public Procurement is now more transparent with the e-procurement system that has been implemented by the PPA. The e-justice programme has also been launched to automate the court processes”, he said.

He also added that, at least 21 former public officials are currently on trial for alleged corruption-related offences, and gave an insight about the completion of a land digitization process which would virtually eliminate corruption at the Lands Commission upon its completion.

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