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Opinions of Saturday, 17 October 2015

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Kufuor Misspoke on Corruption

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Oct. 12, 2015

Most communications experts agree that one’s style of communication is as important as the contents of the message imparted by the speaker / communicator. I have touched on this subject before; nevertheless, it is worthwhile to reprise the same once awhile. What makes Nana Akufo-Addo’s recent assertion that “No society in the world has [thoroughly] uprooted corruption; what they have done is to minimize it” more morally acceptable than former President John Agyekum-Kufuor’s rather cavalier retort to a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reporter who had questioned him about his seriousness in fighting corruption in his government, was the way and manner in which the 2016 New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate answered the question, this time posed to him by the host of a Ghanaian radio-program host.

For those of our readers who may not readily recall it, then-President Kufuor smugly observed that “corruption has been a part of human nature and existence since the time of Adam and Eve.” This was right about the time that Dr. Winfred Anane and several other cabinet appointees were being dogged by the media for corrupting the integrity of their offices. If he had pondered the matter more carefully, Mr. Kufuor could have fine-tuned his response to reflect the fact that he was working assiduously to reduce the perceived high spate of corruption in his government and in the nation at large. In all likelihood, Nana Akufo-Addo has been learning quite a bit from the playbook of his former boss, both from Mr. Kufuor’s widely acclaimed strength in the art of public relations and diplomacy, as well as the imperative need for him not to repeat such serious flaws as the example cited above.

Not only did he demonstrate a remarkable level of maturity and pragmatism in promptly acknowledging that, indeed, corruption was very difficult to uproot, the three-time flagbearer of Ghana’s largest party went further to insightfully observe the need for appropriate disciplinary measures to be put in place so as to ensure that this bane of our national development was reduced to the barest minimum. Actually, Ghana’s former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice noted the need for progressive governments to ensure that no fertile ground was created for corruption to thrive. “We must enforce the legal regime in dealing with corruption,” Akufo-Addo was reported to have added (See “No Country Can Uproot Corruption – Akufo-Addo” / 10/12/15).

Among the measures suggested by Ghana’s foremost opposition leader, was the establishment of the Office of an Independent Prosecutor. Indeed, some politicians and critics have even called for the decoupling of the Attorney-General’s Office from that of the Minister/Ministry of Justice. I don’t know how feasible such a cabinet reconfiguration would be, short of creating more bureaucratic red-tape and, in effect, ballooning government spending. And just how precisely discrete would the functions of the Attorney-General be from those of the Justice Minister? All that needs to happen is for the present Office of the Attorney-General to be made more efficient by appointing the most competent and best qualified legal lights in the country to the job. I can also agree with the occasional appointments of a Special or an Independent Prosecutor as and when the need arises. Creating a permanent Office of an Independent Prosecutor would result in such an office quickly lapsing into decadence within a short span of time, as the occupant becomes comfortable and blasé on the job.

Rather, the appointment of an Independent Prosecutor must be for a short term, after which completion of a terms of reference the occupant vacates his / her post after duly submitting his/her report and/or recommendations. The operations of our national security agencies also need to be reviewed and the requisite changes made. In other words, we do not need to reinvent the proverbial wheel; what we need to do is make the wheel that we already have work more efficiently than before. And all that may be required here is to rethread it, not buy a new one whose practical utility has yet to be tested.

And he is right, Nana Akufo-Addo ought not to be afraid to widely publicize his policy and/or development agenda, for fear that a cognitively and creatively challenged National Democratic Congress leadership would pirate the same. Trust me, the Ghanaian people are sophisticated enough to figure out which politically bankrupt leader has made a shameless habit of cavalierly stealing the plans and agenda of his political opponent and flagrantly passing them off as his own. Boldly and widely publicizing one’s progressive ideas would enable the people to make the right decisions in the polling booth.