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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Manasseh must take all the credit, not Mahama and NDC

Some of us cannot get our heads around how and why the NDC faithful should attempt to claim any credit over the exposure, the investigations, the prosecution and the conviction of two of the several suspects in the infamous GYEEDA corruption scandal.

Needless to stress that if anything at all, discerning Ghanaians must rather be thankful to the intrepid Manasseh Azure Awuni for deftly and audaciously probing into NDC government’s villainous praxes which were obviously sinking the economy deeper and deeper into the mire.

And we must further express our heartfelt gratitude to the hardworking prosecutors and the fearless court officials for diligently seeing the case through to its logical conclusion. We are indeed obliged to the hardworking men and women for their gracious efforts, and not Mahama and his NDC government, whose approach towards the fight against corruption was nothing to write home about.

And to echo the sentiments of a concerned observer, the sins of the two convicts are indeed meagre in comparison with the other scandalous corruption cases which took place in the erstwhile Mahama administration.

Believe it or not, a large portion of Ghana’s scarce resources, regrettably, went down the drain due to the listless mismanagement and the wanton sleazes and corruption perpetrated by the officials of the erstwhile Mahama administration. So, it is somewhat laughable for the NDC loyalists to attempt to attach themselves to the good work of other patriotic Ghanaians in convicting only two of the many political criminals.

After all, what did Mahama and his government do when discerning Ghanaians complained bitterly and relentlessly about many bribery and corruption cases involving SSNIT, SUBA, SADA, Woyome, Bus branding, Brazil World Cup, NCA amongst others which invariably distorted Ghana’s economy , threatened the fundamental human rights and subverted the institutions that guarantee stability?

Didn’t Ex-President Mahama and his NDC government apathetically and unpatriotically protect the corrupt public officials, including the crocodile tears shedding Brazil World Cup cabal who revoltingly bought a ball of ‘nkran dokono’ at an amazing price of $20.00, a whole coconut for $200.00 and paid the Brazilian escort an incredible $4000.00 per journey to a local market?

But in all these, the loyalists NDC Party supporters would want discerning Ghanaians to believing that the erstwhile NDC government provided exceptional governance. Indeed, vague apprehension of patriotism exists in the minds of many Ghanaians, who prefer narrow party coloration to defending the national interests. How pathetic?

Well, whichever way you may place the argument, it is absolutely true that if discerning Ghanaians had not graciously intervened by showing the ravenous and phlegmatic NDC government the exit during the 2016 election, the dreadful errors in decision-making and the rampant sleazes and corruption would have wiped out Ghana off the world map without a trace.

There is no gainsaying the fact that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to nation building. So, it is of the heightened importance that the corrupt officials are held accountable at all times without fear or favour.

The canker called corruption, so to speak, is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor, but it is in the developing world such as Ghana that its effects are most destructive.

And considering the corrosive effect of corruption, no patriotic Ghanaian should ever shrill and thrill over the spate of sleazes and corruption in the country.

I am afraid, it would appear that in Ghana, the justice system more often than not, descends heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the remorseless criminals who hide behind the narrow political lines.

I must, however, confess that I was over the moon when the Supreme Court of Ghana once returned a favourable verdict in the case of Occupy Ghana versus the Auditor General. The Supreme Court made it clear that the Auditor General is obliged to retrieve the embezzled or stolen funds from the culprits without fear or favour.

Disappointingly, however, , my excitement became ephemeral, like the life span of a fly, when the Auditor General later claimed that some culprits have already returned their loots, albeit without the all essential prosecutions.

Obviously, the benign and somewhat ineffective approach would not circumscribe the widespread sleazes and corruption which have been retrogressing Ghana’s advancement thus far.

How on earth would individuals turn away from their misdeeds if the only available punishment for stealing public funds is a mere plea to return the loot?

Let us be honest , much as the paradox of exposure is somewhat relevant in the fight against corruption, it is never an isolated tool, it goes hand in hand with prevention and deterrence.

Regrettably, though, the justice system tends to clampdown heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and more often than not, let go the obdurate criminals who hide behind narrow political colorations.

Well, if we are ever prepared to beseech the fantastically corrupt public officials to only pay back their loots without any further comeuppance, 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.

Truly, reported cases of political criminals misdeeds often leave concerned Ghanaians with a glint of incredulity.

And what is more, 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 delineate a lot of unresolved alleged criminal cases involving political personalities and other civil servants.

So where is the fairness when the political thieves could dip their hands into the national purse as if tomorrow will never come, and, go scot free, while the goat, cassava and plantain thieves are often locked up?

Indeed, 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.

Well, I will venture to state that the deterrence for political criminals has been extremely disappointing. And, 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, some of us cannot comprehend why the people we have entrusted with the national coffers could team up with shifty individuals and steal gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation without facing any stiff punishments.

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

“Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish” (UN 2003).

“For the poor, women and minorities, corruption means even less access to jobs, justice or any fair and equal opportunity” (UNDP 2016).

Let us however keep our fingers cross and pray that the indefatigable Martin Amidu will bring the corrupt public officials to book without fear or favour.

Indeed, it will be gratifying to witness Mr Amidu exerting dint of effort and retrieving most of the stolen monies which have obviously collapsed Ghana’s economy.

Make no mistake, the right antidote to curbing the unbridled sleazes and wanton corruption is through stiff punishments, including the retrieval of all stolen monies, sale of properties and harsh prison sentences.

It is, therefore, our fervent hope that the unwearied Mr Amidu will exert dint of effort and work assertively so as to put tabs on the almost insurmountable battle against the wanton sleazes and corruption that have delayed our development thus far.