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Opinions of Monday, 19 November 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Ghana must not abandon the double salary NDC MPs investigations!

Paradoxically, all politicians would want us to believe they want what is best for the nation. The fact however remains that no politician would ever admit that he/she only wants power to better his/her live.

Arguably, though, discerning Ghanaians would never vote for a politician who would honestly admit: “I want to be elected because I like the salary, pensions (ex gratia) the accompanied benefits, the opportunities to travel and meet interesting people, and the trappings of power.”

Perhaps more than anything else, our negative thinking towards some politicians stems from the shenanigans and hypocrisy that accompany a job in which, in the cut and thrust of the day-to-day political encounters, one must always be right and the adversary must always be wrong.

Thus, the debatable worldview is that, one side is always motivated by the public interest, while the adversary is motivated by base and unworthy aims.

There is no denying or hiding the fact that the vast majority of Ghanaians have a deferential regard for people who have the heart and the abilities to make sacrifices.

Of course, a large number of Ghanaians do hold in high esteem people who have the wherewithal to do the right thing. And we are often inclined towards people who have the courage of their aspirations. Yet some politicians would betray the trust we repose in them. Why?

It is, however, true that Ghanaians cannot do away with the politicians, despite their persistent relaxation and indulgence. It is indeed regrettable that discerning Ghanaians have to endure such shenanigans from a section of our politicians.

Somehow, we, the electorates, are resigned to give our votes to the politicians, who are in turn, obliged to implement expedient policies that would move the nation forward. Thus, in contrast to our expectations, it will, be devilishly difficult to do away with politicians, in spite of the persistent disappointments.

Given the circumstances, we should not and cannot stand accused of exhibiting risible and inborn proclivity towards the irresponsible public officials who prefer to dip their hands into the national purse as if tomorrow will never come.

Indeed, it is quite nauseating to see some public officials who prefer to be called honourable behaving somewhat dishonourably.

Ghanaian politics has indeed become a scorned profession, not a noble profession it used to be. Suffice it to stress that it takes good people—good citizens and leaders to build a prosperous nation. Yet a lot of good people would never go into politics. They dislike the toxic levels of partisanship. They hate the intrusive media scrutiny and they won’t pay the high personal costs of the political life.

Yes, once upon a time, anyone who gained a seat in parliament was looked up to and respected by all; alas, this is not the case anymore.

In most democratic and enlightened societies, the acceptable word is reasoning, unlike Ghana, where respect has always been the norm.

Unfortunately, however, in Ghana, one must always seek to discharge his/her emotional intelligence and show deference for fear of being castigated for upsetting the antiquated and the crude majoritarian Africa culture of respect.

Obviously, it is that hackneyed and dowdy word respect that has given the grown up people in Africa as a whole the licence to misbehave over the years.

For, if that was not the case, how come our shameless, incompetent and corrupt public officials continue to sink the economy deeper and deeper into the mire, create, loot and share our resources and often go scot free?

Make no mistake, you would be tagged disrespectful for criticising for instance, the Members of Parliament who shamefully choose to grab double salaries as if tomorrow will never come. For God sake, how could it be disrespectful for calling a spade a spade?

In all honesty, our Members of Parliament must earn the honourable prefix/suffix by living exemplary lives and desist from desecrating our honourable parliament.

How could honourable Members of Parliament knowingly keep double salaries to the detriment of the poor and the disadvantaged Ghanaians?

It beggars belief that individuals could form an alliance, create, loot and share gargantuan sums of money belonging to the state and would eventually slip through the justice net.

For argument sake, if the law can excuse a suspected double salary grabbing parliamentarian from prosecution, the law might as well make room for the equally important contributors such as farmers, teachers, doctors among others.

Why must we allow a section of the population to perpetrate criminalities and then hide behind the law?

I must confess, though, I had mixed feelings when I read some time ago that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service had submitted the dockets on the investigations of the double salary grabbing NDC Members of Parliament to the Attorney General’s Office for advice.

Obviously, my incertitude stems from the fact that Ghana’s justice system tends to clampdown heavily on the goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and more often than not, let go the impenitent criminals who hide behind the narrow political colorations.

I have always maintained that if we are ever prepared to beseech the fantastically corrupt public officials to only return their loots without any further punishment, we might as well treat the goat, plantain and cassava thieves same. For after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

I am afraid, the democratic country called Ghana may not see any meaningful development, so long as we have public officials who are extremely greedy, corrupt, and insensitive to the plight of the impoverished Ghanaians.

Regrettably, we began life with the likes of South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, and, look at where they are. They are diligently making cars, Mobile phones, electronics, good roads and good housing. And, they have put in place pragmatic policies and programmes to developed their respective countries and just look at where we are today.

Disappointingly, however, we now go to those countries we started life with, and beg for donations, or borrow money--do you recall the STX housing deal which was unsuccessfully pursued by Mills/Mahama administration, and yet cost us a staggering $300 million ? I weep for my beloved Ghana.

Obviously, we need a true leadership with vision and ideas, altruistic and charismatic leadership devoid of corruption, greed, Incompetence and capable of transforming us into an industrialized and robust economy.

It is absolutely true that the unresolved cases of political criminals unscrupulous activities often leave concerned Ghanaians with a glint of bewilderment.

Indeed, when it comes to the prosecutions of the political criminals, we are often made to believe: “the wheels of justice turn slowly, but it will grind exceedingly fine.”

Yet we can disappointingly recount a lot of unresolved alleged criminal cases involving political personalities and other public servants.

Where is the fairness when the political thieves could shamefully dip their hands into the national purse as if there is no tomorrow and go scot free, while the goat, cassava and plantain thieves are incarcerated?

I have always insisted that there is no deterrence for political criminals. For, if that was not the case, how come political criminals more often than not, go through the justice net, despite unobjectionable evidence of wrong doing?

In fact, the Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, hit the nail on the head when he once aptly beseeched the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Ghana Police to investigate the NDC MPs alleged double salaries to its logical conclusion and those who are found to have indulged in any criminalities prosecuted accordingly (See: ‘Double salary’ probe: MPs must face the law – Amidu; citinewsroom.com/ghanaweb.com, 19/04/2018).

As a matter of fact, corruption is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive.

Regrettably, despite the fact that corruption slows down the nation building, some corrupt officials are bent on siphoning our scarce resources to the detriment of the poor and disadvantaged.

Going forward, we must not and cannot use the justice net to catch only the plantain, goat and cassava thieves, but we must rather spread the justice net wide to cover the hard criminals who are often disguised in political attire.

Let us therefore humbly remind the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu and the Attorney General, Gloria Akufu that the right antidote to curbing the unbridled sleazes and corruption is through stiff punishments, including the retrieval of all stolen monies, sale of properties and harsh prison sentences.