Feature Article of Friday, 13 October 2017

Columnist: Ebnezer Annang

Fighting corruption in Ghana: The Christian and the integrity value proposition

I chanced on an online item on a Public Lecture being organized by the Christian Service University College (CSUC), slated for the 13th of October 2017 on the theme “Institutional corruption in Ghana, causes and effect”. I checked the speakers of the program and reached contact with the organizers to make input into the discussion. I hope this platform set a stimulating tone for the fight against corruption.

Many including our former president, John Agyekum Kufuor have said corruption is as old as Adam which suggests it is a complex task to tackle. “Corruption” is a word whose definition has been given varied interpretations. To some, it is relative to culture, i.e where you are coming from and how you describe it. However, without referring to any definition from any reference, from daily experience, it is a form of dishonest desire by a person or group for an activity that serves their selfish personal interest other than the general good.

Just as Imani Ghana, a Public Think Tank estimates that over Three Billion dollars of tax payers monies are lost annually through corruption, it is ten months already, and I ask how much more of our tax payers monies gone to corruption?

The president, Nana Akufo-Addo during his inaugural address, inter alia, said he would protect the public purse. He admonished Ghanaians to be citizens and not spectators for national development. As part of his grand strategy, he is establishing the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to fight high crimes to complement other existing structures.

On another platform, he has said he would not “steal” our monies and that he should be trusted. But the question is , will the team he has put in place in the executive - right from the presidency, ministers, leaders in charge of state organizations, administrative heads and the civil servants; the legislature ,the Judiciary and the media fraternity and as well as general Ghanaian populace sing from the same hymn book?

Just open a discussion about bribery and corruption and one is certain of pointing accusing fingers at the politician next door. But in a reverse discussion thrown back, one is certain to say when given the opportunity he will also “chop” as we say in Ghana, Suggesting that the entity called Ghana is not for anyone.

On daily basis Ghanaians employed in the public and private space to provide varied forms of services use their position dishonestly. One is certain to demand money or a brown envelope for a service provided and that is normal. In fact, the recipient of the service is equally willing to part with some money! The intention behind that is a “betrothal” for a tomorrow opportunity! Here you are considered as being smart. If you dare otherwise and question the status quo, you are certain to be branded “too known”.

According to the Ghana 2010 Population censors report, 71% of the Ghanaian population profess to be Christians. Therefore, every seven out of ten (7: 10) people profess to be Christians. By a logical conclusion of this statistics who are the corrupt?

I reiterate what the Koforidua Area Head of the church of Pentecost, Apostle Eric Nyamekye said that corruption is an evil desire and Christians must shun, particularly those in key positions in government

I expect the Lecture will conduct a stimulating post-mortem of the Christian flock as per the theme and proffer a direction that provides a practical demonstration to the teachings of Christ who is our example. The Bible teachings prescribe attitudes modelled on the life of Jesus Christ, one that answers the question as Charles Sheldon wrote “what will Jesus do”. Which is to say, the value proposition of integrity should permeate our interaction with the community, environment, workplace and all humanity for national development and as a service to God? This should be the anchor moral value upon which our national development rides on.

It is time for the church to be active agents of change by partnering with government and other stakeholders such as Islamic community, traditional leaders who are the custodians of culture in the fight against corruption, and other social vices. The indecent acculturation seen on the theatrical stage and media space by some print media houses exposing pornographic images to our unsuspecting children must stop. At 60, we need the right moral values to guide our national developmental path.

It seems to me that the Christian leadership has not taken advantage of the “chance” to bring in orderliness within its fold. Come to think about it, there are Christian church associations like Ghana Pentecostal and charismatic council, the Christian Council of Ghana amongst others but not all churches are under their fold to regulate their activities. It is a fact that that there is no law that hold them bound to any association. So do we throw out our hands in the air for the insanity to prevail on the airwaves and national psyche? Thankfully, the ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs has been established. This offers the church leadership an opportunity to collaborate with the ministry in working out a policy that streamlines their activities.

Another worry trend into the bargain, which perhaps, have not interrogated is the seemingly commercialization of the church by some. It is a fact that there is a huge unemployment amongst the youth and the middle age class. It not farfetched to come to a conclusion judging from what happens on our radio and television space with all manner of pastors rushing for space to advertise their churches and seek members. It is worth quoting a former president Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo that “there is no doubt that all our institutions have been tarnished by the brush of corruption”. He made this statement when giving a speech at a church program. I dare say that, as the Christian flock is the microcosm of the church, we need to be frank and see some truth in that statement.

As we do prognosis of the endemic corruption and seek a holistic solution to the canker, we should also be looking at the whistleblower policy and reward system how effective it has been thou far in the fight against bribery and corruption. There have been one too many complaints of people who have reported corrupt and fraudulent activities and have been often left to the mercy of the system. In such circumstance, one falls into dilemma over whether to report a corrupt issue or not. That certainly is detrimental to the fight against corruption.

I bring readers again to the question “what will Jesus do?” if you are faced with a dishonest situation.

Thank you.

Ebnezer Annang A National Service Personnel

annan_eben@yahoo.com