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Opinions of Tuesday, 18 July 2006

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Battle Against Corruption: Are We Wining Or Losing?

Humankind has lived with corruption since the time of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In other words, corruption is as old as the earliest history books and as contemporary as the morning newspapers.

In saying this we must admit that corruption is as endemic in Ghana as the city of Baghdad is gripped with insecurity. In Ghana, it has become an everyday phenomenon to see corrupt practices in everything that we do, especially in the public services. We have unconsciously modified the beatitude sermon that ‘blessed are those who are corrupt for they shall enjoy the fruit of the land.’

The danger of corruption in Ghana is not that it been seen in every facet of our life but rather the very state institutions that are supposed to keep the flames of integrity, transparency and probity high and blazing have become partakers in this act.

It has been the desire of every new government in Ghana to fight the malaise of corruption but still it keeps on gaining deeper roots in Ghana. When the usurpers of the 1966 coup came they promised to weed out corruption in Ghana but at the end of the day they could not hold on to their promise. Acheampong’s 1972 coup, Rawlings’ 1979 uprising and his subsequent comeback on 31st December, 1981 promised Ghanaians that they had come to cure the tumour of corruption in the country but……
On assumption of office as the second president of the Third Republic, President John Agyekum Kufour assured Ghanaians that there would be zero tolerance for corruption in his regime. However, as time went on the regime could not keep to their original promise.
In the later part of 2005 when Transparency International through its local representative in Ghana, The Ghana Integrity Initiative released the Ti 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index, our beloved country chalked the 64th position with an abysmal mark of 3.5 out of 10. If this was expressed as a percentage, it means that Ghana had 35% and by all standards, the country would have failed if this were an examination. We did not even deserve a compensatory pass. Our position on the index was not at all acceptable especially considering the fact that we have the needed resources to rid our nation from corruption. The mark showed a drop of 0.1 from the previous year’s index. Coincidentally, it was the same score that Ghana had in the year 2000 before the National Democratic Congress (NDC) left office.
Fellow Ghanaians there is a great and fierce danger for Ghana in terms of corruption. The danger here is that Ghanaian’s tolerance for corruption is very high in a sense that corruption is seen by most people as a normal way of life. Those who want to stand against corruption in every facet of life are branded as maladjusted or too-known.
Everyday people are profiting from corrupt deals. At the harbours, ports, roads and highway and even at the hospital. The latest news is disappearance of five kilograms out of 30 kilograms of cocaine from the Narcotic Controls Boards'(NCB) Office.
William Shakespeare once said that there is a tide in the affairs of men; which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries." There are good moral reasons for us arising from this:
Corruption and bribery destroy the economic system. The capitalist system is based on competition in an open and free market, where people tend to buy the best product at the best price. Bribery corrupts the free-market mechanism by getting people to make purchases that do not reward the most efficient producer.
In every corrupt practice it is the poor who suffers and the rich who gain. In any situation ruled only by money, the deeper pocket will prevail. If bribery were nationally practiced, expert testimony, justice in the courts, and everything else would be up for sale to the highest bidder.
Again and again it produces cynicism and a general distrust of institutions. It destroys people's trust in the integrity of professional services, of government and the courts, of law enforcement, religion, and anything it touches.
If Ghana is to keep the flame of transparency high then our legal code against corruption, scattered between the 1960 Criminal Code to the contemporary act of parliament should be brought together. It appears we in Ghana are not serious in tackling issues of corruption. Or is it because the people in office are profiting from it?
A great historian and writer by the name Arnold Toynbee said that some twenty-seven civilisations have risen upon the face of the earth. Almost all of them have descended into the junk heaps of destruction. The decline and fall of these civilisations, according to Toynbee, was not caused by external invasions but rather internal decay caused by corruption and immorality. If we remain silent about corruption we will get drowned in our own sins and a future historian will say that a great nation called Ghana died because it lacked the soul and the commitment to fight corruption.
Corruption is a cancer on our growth which must be removed before we can make progress. In other words, corruption and development are mutually exclusive meaning that these two events cannot happen at the same time. President Ronald Reagan once said that communism and capitalism cannot exist side by side. For capitalism to exist communism must die.
Gradually, we, Ghana is growing not in terms of development but in terms of age. Forty nine years is enough for us to have kept our house in order. The social inequities in the country, debilitating and grinding poverty and corruption are all interrelated. We need to make a difficult choice. It calls for change in our sociological posture. The Hebrew New Testament says that no discipline is enjoyable whilst it is happening-it is painful! But afterwards there will be quite a harvest of right living for those are trained in this way. Procrastination is still the thief of time. We may cry desperately for time to pause in her passage but time is deaf to such plea and rushes on. There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our corrupt and honest deeds. We need to start from somewhere. It is now or never.

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance writer and the president of the Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through: Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, P.O. BOX. KS 13640. Kumasi. Tel www.leaders-of-tomorrow-inc.com

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