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Opinions of Thursday, 26 July 2012

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Judgment Debt Crisis: A Gathering Storm that Calls for Action!!

Ghana’s Judgment Debt Crisis: A Gathering Storm that Calls for Action!!

Our toddler democrat experiment has been hijacked by a gaggle of greedy and corrupt elite. Not only are they greedy and corrupt, they are overall incompetent as well. Not a single day goes by without reading about judgment debt corruption. How did we get here and what can we do to put a permanent end to this blight? The situation is so dire as to make some wax nostalgic about the pale and harsh days of military dictatorship. We opted for democracy because we were made to believe that it is a better form of government. However, if democracy means voting every fours years and watching a few corrupt elite, rob the country dry in-between voting, I surely don't want any part of it.

I think it is abundantly clear that both the NPP and NDC are not the solution but rather the problem. Add the bureaucrats to this conundrum and you have a putrid mess. I am convinced now, more than ever, that, a civil revolution is the way to bring this rot to a screeching halt. The people of Ghana have to rise and demand an end to this rubbish or risk mayhem from a small section of the population. Some in Ghana realize the problem and are beginning to warn these politicians of dire consequences if they don't cut out the tripe. Ghanaians must own this problem before it becomes an international one.

Of course you know why these criminals terminate these contracts right? They don't do it because they care about you. Not at all!!! They do it because it allows them to collect kickbacks from the new partners they sign on. The Ghanaian politician or bureaucrat, sees any opportunity to act, as an opportunity to steal from the people. This is why public lands are being sold to party cronies and judgment debt is being paid to criminals. So and quite plainly, the task at hand is to stop these crooks from putting a kibosh on any contract without public knowledge of what they are doing. A government acts on behalf of its people. If the latter holds true, and I believe it does, then the people have a right to vet any agreement that the government enters into. In a functioning democracy, the people can question such agreements by contacting their representative in parliament. In Ghana, parliament is totally feckless and represents a huge problem.

Take the case of Mpiani, the former chief of staff for Kufour. How did this scumbag worm his way into being a chief of staff? I guess it says a lot about the person that appointed him to the position. Yet in Ghana, anything is possible. Not only was he not qualified, he abused his power at the least opportunity. First, I would like someone to school me on what the duties and responsibilities of a chief of staff are. What expertise does Mpiani have to review any contract? What criteria did he/they use? The last I checked, Mpiani is not a lawyer or a trained procurement professional! There is a good reason why people go to school to study law and procurement. One of our biggest problems in Ghana is that any twit can jump into a role for which he or she is not qualified and start screwing the country up without any consequences whatsoever. For some reason, nobody is ever responsible for the rubbish that we continue accruing from these corrupt politicians. Until we start punishing severely, those who waste our resources for their personal gain, nothing will change.

To solve this festering cancer, a root cause analysis ought to be done by those in charge. Will they do it? I seriously doubt it!! We must know the what and why of these judgment debts! In addition, we have to come up with effective and creative solutions aimed at preventing such blatant malfeasance. It is not ok to continue this way! No!

The starting point for solving this cancer is to insist that parliament pass the freedom of information act (FOIA). There is a dire need to confront these corrupt actors just when they are about to or immediately after they commit these criminal acts. Sunlight is definitely necessary in solving this problem. The average Ghanaian must have an enforceable right to question anyone who acts on their behalf. Without information, one cannot tell what is going on! The people need actionable information now!

Secondly, we should make abrogating government contracts a public event. The government must gazette and also publicly announce all contracts it intends to terminate. Indeed, even impending new contract must be made public. Government must explain why it intends to stop or start a contract and invite public comment before such termination or assumption can take place. Of course, this will slow the process down but it will surely save us the headache of losing millions at a time when kids study under trees and teachers are not paid for years. These politicians should be reminded constantly about who they work for. If they truly work for the people, then there is no need hiding their business from them.

The third step is to punish severely any public official who terminates a contract without following agreed to procurement processes and procedures. Now, in saying the latter, I assume there are clear cut procurement processes and procedures. If we don't have them, we need to put them in place. If we have them but are not effective, we need to strengthen clarify and bring awareness to them. In addition, this suggesting assumes that the organs of government will work as designed. Unfortunately, that is not the case!

Parliament must perform its oversight role concurrently instead of always missing in action. Until we get to a point where parliament can hold live, meaningful and no-partisan hearings to uncover information that will help avert mass corruption, we will continue to lag behind these thugs. Our parliament has not performed to its potential at all. Of course the bigger and more difficult problem is the warped constitution that posits a suffocating executive on the neck of the legislature. That said, the legislature still must do it job. It members must stop genuflecting to the President and partisan politics.

Lastly, we can all agree that both NDC and NPP harbor corrupt politicians who are risking our nascent democracy for personal gain. These bad apples get away with murder because the very people who can stop them within their party, watch on or join the filth. Some even avow that they will not testify but are willing to accept that criminals like Mpiani are wrong in doing what they did. I will like to see both parties, NDC and NPP voted out. Until we get to that day and age, party members must put country first and stop these criminals from continuing to risk our country's future for public gain. Ghana first should be our guide. For the sake of posterity, stand up for mother Ghana!!!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (hatingly known as the double edge sword) I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell—Harry Truman