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Opinions of Monday, 8 July 2013

Columnist: Adjei-Brenyah, Dennis

Defeating the culture of “irregularities”

Defeating the culture of “irregularities” in our public service

Dennis Adjei-Brenyah Esq.

About a week or so ago, I wrote a piece dealing with certain aspects of one of the most intractable issues in our country. Corruption. I titled it “The Challenge of Defeating Corruption: Where are We”? In this piece, I follow-up on that theme because issues I raised previously in my article, especially the one titled, “The Ghosts are Now Dancing in Our Embassies,” have resurfaced-- with a bang!
That piece was in direct response to the Auditor General’s Report for the 2009 (released to the public in 2011).
In fact, the full title of my piece at that time was “The Ghosts are Dancing in Our Embassies, Who is Afraid of the Auditor General.” The Auditor General’s report for that year graphically detailed wanton corruption euphemistically described as “IRREGULARTIES” in every facet of our public service. It was established then – with solid forensic/documentary proof – that our country lost the huge sum (the word gargantuan was not in regular use then) but this was truly a “gargantuan” sum of GH¢ 2.5 Billon through financial “irregularities” as demonstrated by our Auditor General in that piece. It was (and is) not clear to me which is the sadder reality. The finding of the fraud perpetrated on us by our leaders and officers in public service; or the fact that nothing, absolutely NOTHING, was done (or is being done) to punish these well-headed agents of our nation’s doom! And then, it has happened again! Nobody is afraid of the Auditor General.
Full of sound and fury…

It is against this background that the recent release of the newest Auditor General’s Report and the comments of our President drive me to this follow-up: what are these persistent “irregularities?” When, in the name of our Country are we going to abide by the narrow path of “regularities?” We must cultivate something radically different. We must develop a counter-culture to these persistent “irregularities” and commit to a culture of expectations of regularities in our public sphere.

In its latest Report, our Auditor General has come up again with a litany of abuses (I am being polite here) which he has described (yet again) as “irregularities.” According to the latest Report, our nation lost GH¢ 118.8 million as a result of irregularities at the Ministries Department and Agencies (known as the MDA’s). Irregularities here, irregularities there, irregularities everywhere! No wonder we do not have electricity! Tema port has become a cess-pool of you-know-what; Customs and Excise- stinking rot – the same drum beat of “irregularities” exemplified by the failure of some MDA’s to follow simple laid down procedures in the award of contracts; the cost to us GH¢ 23.946,637.32. Payroll irregularities also cost us GH¢ 909.278.80. In particular, well noted, was something described as “cash irregularities” that were rife in the Ministries of Justice and Attorney General; the cost to our nation: GH¢ 16,375,045.05. This is the attorney General’s Office we are talking about! The cats who will go after the greedy cheese-munching mice are dancing and munching with the mice. To use the running journalistic term, “rot” is all over the place. Something is perniciously rotten in the nation. In a word, they are stealing us blind and we have severe developmental challenges.

In my previous attack on this plague, I had advocated a symbiotic link between the Auditor General’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office in hopes of catching the crooks hiding in the crevices of our ministries. Public servants doing public evil. No shame. And talking about our Attorney General’s Office, this is the office that “sanctioned” the ugliest of perversities - the Woyome thing! This is where an official of the AG’s office charged with representing out interest “received” (or is it his wif?), the sum of GH¢ 400,000 from Woyome, the cat and the mouse in an unholy dance to our shame and discredit. And nothing is done!! (Anywhere else this official would be in prison. Period. )

In the midst of this rather very depressing syndrome of perversity enriching some crooks, and severely harming our nation, our President shows up! Earlier this week, our President personally reacted to this systemic rot by directing the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to prosecute all those officers in public service engaged in this on-going, never-ending raid on our nation’s finances: the evil-hooded architects of “irregularities.” That is heart-warming. Finally somebody with power is doing something. Really? Sadly, there is a huge catch. The Attorney’s General’s Office is not immune from the cancerous “cash irregularities” contamination the Ministries. So the prosecution of the miscreants must begin from within the AG’s office. If the President’s directive is to have any meaning and any bite and any significance, I suggest a new special prosecutor empowered by Parliament to wield the “holy sword” to cleanse up the rot and the mess.

He/she must link up directly with the Auditor General’s Office and constitute a team of men and woman who can prosecute these bad apples/ elements in our public service, and their outside agents and promoters. As of now, the AG’s office has limited credibility. And, it is a shame. That is not to say there may not be some good people there, even now, who may have respect and regard for our country without taking any monies from people they are supposed to be prosecuting. I recommend a special liaison with the Economic Crimes Organization. Parliament should create this Special Prosecuting Commission to be called “Commission for the Recovery of Public Funds,” stolen by public officers engaged in brazen “irregularities.”

Next year, the Auditor General’s Report is going to say: Irregularities have ended in the MDA’s. Am I dreaming? Happy dreams. Our nation is worth it. We can do this. We can redirect our energies to this recovery enterprise. If we continue to let them get away with this continuing culture of irregularities, we shall remain “as is” – and that my brothers and sisters, is sad as it is.

Dennis Adjei-Brenyah Esq.