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Opinions of Sunday, 19 August 2018

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Martin and Gloria may well send Akufo-Addo back to opposition

We should not lose sight of the fact that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to the nation building and as such the fantastically corrupt public officials must be held accountable at all times without fear or favour.

I must confess, my excitement disappeared fugaciously, like the life span of a fly, when the Auditor General claimed that some culprits had already returned their loots, albeit without the essential prosecutions.

Obviously, the benign and somewhat lenient 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 crimes if the only available punishment for stealing the public funds is a mere plea to return the loot?

Let us however be honest, much as the paradox of exposure is somewhat relevant in the fight against the canker of corruption, it is not an isolated tool, it goes hand in hand with prevention and deterrence.

To be quite honest, I had mixed feelings when I read 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 Office for advice.

My incertitude however 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 lines.

Well, 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 bet, 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 and would often go scot free.

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, good housing, and 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 reported cases of political criminals misdeeds often leave concerned Ghanaians with a glint of bewilderment.

However, 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 ignobly 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 will dare state 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?

The Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, hit the nail on the head when he 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.

In fact, some of us cannot comprehend why the people we choose to entrust with the national coffers could team up with shifty individuals and steal gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation without facing any stiff punishment.

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.

“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).

Of course, the suspects and their apologists will grumble and squall over the Special Prosecutor’s lawful interrogations. Nevertheless, there should be no mercy for the wrong doers. We must claw-back all the stolen monies which were meant for various developmental projects.

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.