You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2007 07 04Article 126499

Opinions of Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Columnist: Appeadu, Charles E.

Ghana's Development and Corruption

I wish to provoke a discussion on the development of our dear nation from a simple, realistic viewpoint. We have read many articles on this site about the contributions to our impoverished state. There seem to be unequivocal agreement that Corruption, Lack of Respect for our Own People, Lack of Adequate Education/Skills, and Disorderliness (Non-adherence to the Rule of Law) are some of the greatest contributors to our predicament.

There are certainly other factors but I will like to start with one of the above factors – CORRUPTION.

I have corruption at the top of my list, hands down! Corruption takes away motivation and innovation from the population. Take two people, persons A and B, working in Ghana earning the same amount of money, say 5 million cedis per month, doing equivalent jobs. Assume one of them, person A, can steal a large sum of money (say 500 million cedis) to put up a house and/or satisfy some desires common to both A and B, without any punishment. If person B observes person A’s behavior, person B will become discouraged because it will take him 250 months or over 20 years to save the 500 million cedis (even at a high 40% savings rate) that person A stole in an instant. There is a very high likelihood that Person B will copy Person A and also seek to steal, unless he, Person B, is restrained from doing so by some value system he has acquired. Person B may not take to stealing due to his values but his motivation to work hard will certainly be affected.

A corrupt society will negatively affect motivation, innovation, and hard work! Now, what should we do about this? This is one of those areas that I classify as mainly the leadership’s part. I refuse to believe that in a country of over 20 million, we cannot find intelligent, wise leaders, who are also people of integrity. We need to have political debates to find out where the candidates stand with respect to dealing with corruption. My suggestion to the next President is to tackle this problem department by department, ministry by ministry, and agency by agency.

First, the President must genuinely be committed to dealing with corruption. Then, he should search for Ghanaians both home and abroad who are true leaders (individuals who have demonstrated the passion to work to improve their domain of influence for those they serve) to head the ministries/departments/agencies. These true leaders of integrity should be given the mandate to hire and fire staff and some goals to meet within a specified time period. Their achievements should be chronicled from time to time, discussed in the public media, and lauded to the ears of all Ghanaians. Those that fail and get corrupt should be exposed and punished with fines and jail terms. Of course, I am assuming that the President is subjecting himself to the same (or higher) standards of professional and ethical excellence he expects of his ministers and agency heads. This should be a chief priority of the next President and he should not pay lip service to this. It is that important. Some may be saying, as they read this, that we don’t have people like that. This is not true! I do not espouse to be the best person out there or the only person out there with integrity but I must say that if I am put in charge of a department/ministry, I know many people with the qualifications, passion to serve, and the integrity to get the job done! And I believe that there are many other Ghanaians reading this piece who can make similar statements.

Many people are surprised that Ghanaian immigrants to the US work so hard – some work 2 or 3 jobs. The only reason why you see that happening is that in the US system, the only way the Person A we talked about above can get more money than person B is to work harder and more hours. The system is not perfect but 99 percent or so of the time, it is free of corruption. I have been here for almost 20 years and I can say that I have not encountered any situation where I had to give a bribe to, or have been offered a bribe by, anybody in all my dealings/transactions in the society. Folks, do we really want our country to progress? If so we need to stamp out this evil. I will be back with more.

Charles E. Appeadu, Ph.D., CFA

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.