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Opinions of Saturday, 31 March 2012

Columnist: Berko, George

Some Corrupt Politicians Must Be Eligible For Trial At The Hague

: Corruption Can Kill.

The incidence of Corruption in high places is almost as universal as Birth and Death. But the practice of that vice in Africa in particular, and Ghana especially, has achieved certain notoriety of being uniquely cankerous. In Ghana the practice became so pervasive among us that it could be cited from the ordinary petty traders in the Streets to the Executives of large National Business firms, from the Village Committee members to the folks at the very top of the Political echelon, from the Students and Teachers in Primary Schools to the Student leadership and Chancellors of the Universities, from the Watchmen guarding some private Mansions to the highest ranks of the Police and Judiciary. Many of our younger generation even have come to think of Corruption as a normal part of our life and Culture. This vicious practice has become so immune to our current measures to contain it that any talk of the measures has become mundane. Even though some of us talk of and criticize it almost daily, most of us do overlook its real effects on the society.
It was not until the practice of Corruption was cited as the main reason for the Execution of our Military Generals, following the Coup by J.J. Rawlings and his AFRC, that our Society was jolted to some partial awakening to see the vice differently. Many Ghanaians believe the practice reached its apogee during Kutu Acheampong’s Regime out of which most of the executed Generals were extracted. The nationally well-known term, ‘Kalabule’, had been coined to superficially sanitize the vice by that time the Generals met their fate at the Firing Squad. The ubiquitous, blatant, brutal excesses of the Military, in its ostensible efforts in curbing of Kalabule, during the AFRC era, needs no reminding. But a couple of things were apparent. And they are:
1). That most Ghanaians had become overwhelmed by the practice of Corruption and felt effeminate to fight it by any normal means that they spontaneously welcomed the arrival of the AFRC on the scene with its prime agendum to eschew the vice from our system; and 2). That by the end of the short three months rule of the AFRC, Ghanaians had recoiled a bit from the practice in fear of the torturous repercussions at the hands of the Military.
Having experienced this massive atrocious extremity of instant Justice imposed by the Soldiers for stopping our Corruption, one would think we would never let that vicious Social canker creep back into our lives. But lo and behold, that turned out to be only a transient reprieve we were coerced to take from Corruption. The next Coup by J. J. Rawlings in 1981 is said to have been unlikely to occur had our leaders in the Third Republic under the late Hilla Liman been keener in preserving that reprieve from Corruption. The behavior of some members of Dr. Liman’s Administration and his PNP Party was soon perceived as Corruption reborn, and that gave the J. J. Rawlings, the Coup leader, another excuse to usurp the Republic and justify being around much longer.
Without dwelling on, or attempting to resolve, any of the arguments regarding the justification of the 1981 Coup, I have been moved by the recent spate of Corruption in our Country to think much deeper than ever about this vice that seems almost as incurable among us as Matter is indestructible in our Physical World. As a result, I have come to realize that while the talk of Corruption has become trite and cheapened by our Political and Tribal connotations we rush to assess it in, the real cost of the vice to our Society is no less than that of many a Civil War or a brutal suppression of our Liberties by a Dictatorship. What is more interesting and alarming of the vice, today, is its morphological existence which shows it as a much invigorated hydra-headed, highly sophisticated, refined pseudo-macroeconomic device, comfortably utilized by our Political leaders. The nature of Corruption among us, now, has allowed it to easily engulf its tentacles around as massive amounts of money that makes the totality of what our Military Generals were killed for pale in comparison, even if we take the inflationary component of (i.e. the relative values of money in) those two eras in consideration.
But for the real, ultimate cost of such Corruption to us I see as needless loss of innocent lives. If we think of even only the shortages of Medicines, and lack of Medical facilities and care that our People endure as a result of incessant and pervasive Corruption, we can establish that Corruption kills many of our folks needlessly. For anyone who doubts this ultimate victimization by the vice, I would cite but a few scenarios. Assuming a Hospital needed Medications or Medical Equipment that could not be procured for lack of Funds, because some Official diverted the allotted Funds to his or her selfish ends, or the Government had to divert the Funds into some Woyomegate-like payment, patients needing those Medications or Equipment simply do not get the treatment and just die. Next, assuming a horribly rough Road, strewn with pot-holes and weak bridges is chosen for repairs but the Funds for the repairs are misused and the road doesn’t get repaired, vehicular accidents on the road occur and cause deaths. Assuming, again, that certain Funds for maintaining our Oil refineries were mismanaged for the personal interest of their Executives, and we run out of Gas to run our vehicles, many would not have Gas (Petrol) or diesel to travel to Hospitals in time for treatment of injuries or sudden sicknesses and would die.
The almost insurmountable Poverty among our folks and the deplorable state of infrastructural development can be pinned on the persistent Corruption among our leaders. The age-long lack of good drinking Water, proper Wastewater and Drainage Systems, and Education that matters can all be purveyors of diseases that should not have existed among our folks this long. And these diseases kill or destroy the lives of many Citizens. Compounding the above scenarios with these on diseases, why would anyone of conscience deny that Corruption kills, and kills massively?
As flimsy and platitudinous as these scenarios sound, we cannot deny that incidents like these have been happening multifold over the years, and currently, all across the Nation. The recent revelations about Woyomegate and similar avoidable or orchestrated losses of huge sums of money could only point to one direction and that is the exponential rate at which Corruption has caused us the untimely and avoidable deaths of innocent Citizens. We, therefore, don’t have to try too hard to get the import of what a whooping $92 Million Woyome-pay-out, for instance, could buy in Medical Resources for our Healthcare, and, resultantly, how many lives it could save. From another angle, we don’t have to be any imaginative to understand how many lives could be lost because such huge losses of revenue might have denied our sick some crucial Medical treatment. The recent strike by our Doctors that some claimed caused the deaths of some patients would, most probably, not have occurred had we saved the Funds for theWaterville and Woyome pay-outs, for instance, to appropriately pay the Doctors what they deserved in Salaries.
So, folks it may be very easy to dismiss this notion that Corruption kills, but it is only because we may not readily and instantly make the correlation between Corruption and these losses of lives. We simply cannot deny that the vice is very much responsible for many lives lost. Yet, our leaders persistently show gross insensitivity to rectify the trend, and intentionally persist in corrupt activities to cause ‘gargantuan’ Economic losses, for which the lost lives of our folks become the eventual opportunity cost.
It is on the strength of this final summation that I propose that we advocate for the International Court of Justice to consider dragging these blatant atrocious perpetrators of massive Corruption, especially, in Government, to be tried for crimes against Humanity. So far, in Ghana, we see how ineffectual the likes of EOCO and the Fast Track Courts, etc., have been. They hardly convict and adequately punish these perpetrators, let alone serve as deterrent to potential culprits of such Corruption. Various Tribal and Political alliances are always invoked directly or otherwise by suspects of high Corruption to mitigate any attempts to effectively adjudicate their crimes, and so the corrupt leaders show no dint of retreating from Corruption. Our Judiciary has shown little inclination to implement the Laws to the fullest for their Political cronies accused of such crimes. So, what else do we have to fall on to save ourselves and our Nation?
I would hope that if and when The Hague establishes the justification for such consideration to prosecute these Corrupt Political leaders, it would also craft the tool to access for recovery any hidden Wealth that the perpetrators of such Corruption might have stolen from their Citizens. Yes, the Charles Taylors and the Omar Al-Bashirs may have used weapons of mass execution to cause crimes against humanity and deserve The Hague. But so also do I see the Corrupt Politicians who year after year deny us Medicines, good Drinking Water and other basic human needs cause slow, painful deaths of our fellow Citizens. The deaths of many unfortunate Citizens occur in drones because of our leaders’ Corruption. We may not immediately have the statistical figures to testify to these deaths. But that is only because the same Governments that facilitate such Corruption do not gather the statistics on how many of us die from that crime.
Folks, it may sound very far out to get to the point where The Hague could be our major deterrent against Corruption. But we need to try. Please, share your thoughts on this. Until we reach a consensus, I would like to reiterate to our Political leaders that enough is enough with their Corruption, and our patience is running thinner with every next incidence of it we hear about.

Long Live Ghana!!!
(G. K. Berko)
(New Hampshire, USA).

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