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Opinions of Thursday, 19 November 2020

Columnist: Michael Ofori

Martin and corruption versus Alidu: A retrospection

If the foundations of law and order are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The issue of corruption which has bedevilled our continent and Ghana is a much detestable thing. The more I get interested in the issue of the state, the angrier I feel whenever I hear of reports on government misappropriation of public funds and corruption.

In Wesley Grammar School where I read poems in Literature-in-English class, I came to understand the hardship the ordinary citizen’s experience as a result of corruption.

This feeling of abjectness made me internalize poems like “Ambassadors of Poverty”, “Myopia” and in English class at the University of Cape Coast, prose such as “The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born” and “Animal Farm” made a lot of sense to me on the subject of corruption.

So, in 2017 when it was strongly campaigned that the government of Ghana has plans to institutionalize a state agency to be known as the Office of the Special Prosecutor- that will combat, and not merely fight corruption- I was hopeful that this was what I as well as millions of other citizens have been waiting for. And, this was the most important economic revolution in Ghana.

To cap my joy of this anti-corruption crusade, was the nomination of my role model Mr Martin Alamisi Barnes Kaiser Amidu, the citizen vigilante and anti-corruption crusader as the first to sit in that office.

After the Special Prosecutors Bill was passed, the vetting of the appointee was done and the swearing-in was climaxed, my hopes rose. “Let’s begin taking them down- one by one” was my maxim.

But as the little hopes I had was dashed as the days go by, the sham of the fight against corruption in Ghana took me to the poetic lines of “Myopia”, “If the skeleton of stillborn promises [of fighting against corruption] dry up in the catacombs” will there be any hope for Ghanaians? The feeling of “all hopes was lost” visited me. The reason for this is found in the next three paragraphs.

On the 16th of July, 2019, I chanced on an article written by the Hon. Special Prosecutor titled “Challenges in the office of the Special Prosecutor in fighting corruption in Ghana”. In the article, Mr. Martin Amidu presented stark issues that are acting as a barricade to his mandate in fighting against corruption.

He wrote “The Special prosecutor has been accused of sleeping on the job when he has only three seconded investigators from the Ghana Police Service with no prosecutor employed directly by the Office for obvious bureaucratic and technical reasons. The office has nonetheless managed to investigate and arraigned a number of public officers before the High Court for prosecution, but their heads of institutions have failed or refused to apply the law on interdiction and/or indefinite leave to deter others from following the same corruption path.”

Before that, the Hon. Special Prosecutor had written in a November 09, 2018 article titled “Martin Amidu writes: Stifling Independent Investigative Agencies of Funds” that “Whitaker’s scenario which I have just read reinforces my conviction that the effective way to stifle the fight against corruption is to apply Whitaker’s scenario. It also reminds me of the almost utter hopelessness in which the office of the Special Prosecutor finds itself almost one year after the President caused its establishment as his flagship and vision to fight corruption in Ghana with an overwhelming national consensus and support”.

Need Ghanaians be surprised at the turn of events if the Special Prosecutor has resigned? No!

The story of Hon. Martin Amidu walking out of office should remind us of the basic school fictional story of “Alidu and his goat”.

In that story, Alidu was so convinced that his goat could perform the wonder of talking. With his well-founded conviction, Alidu negotiated for a platform for his goat to display. As the village gathered to watch the performance of the goat, the greater shock of Alidu. There was no show; the goat couldn’t speak. At the disappointment of Alidu, and his “fooling” of the audience, Alidu was subjected to lashes.

Per the story, was it true that the goat could speak, Yes! So, why did it disappoint its owner in public?

Based on this juxtaposed story, the issue of people being disappointed in the Special Prosecutor is utterly out of place. The question is “is Martin Amidu an anti-corruption campaigner and fighter of public corruption”? Yes! If he couldn’t demonstrate his anti-corruption work to our satisfaction, does it make him a failure? No!

The issue we need to rather subject to discussion is whether or not the State or President was committed towards the fight against corruption. What response was given by the Government to Martin Amidu’s 16th July 2019 post which he published on www.modernghana.com?

The culture in Ghana, when it comes to fighting public immorality is one that nurtures between spasm and trance. We make public shows of government commitments to combating some social ills for one month, and we forget about it for decades. This attitude rather seems to cast dim lights on individuals like Martin A. B. K. Amidu, as they appear ineffectual.

The government of Ghana needs to rise above dormancy to activity when it comes to fighting corruption. The act of paying lip-service and outpour of rhetoric in substitution for real commitment rather projects a negative image about the nation, which no “Squealer” in any “Animal Farm” State can reverse.

Fight corruption, we must. But to fight it the way that has been done in the past few decades in Ghana, we must not.

We must rise above the mediocrity of fighting corruption to heighten the brand of a person. Instead, purging the dirt, and patching the loopholes that allow people to steal State funds should have a goal of saving the nation’s wealth.

An actionable long-term anti-corruption plan is needed to save Ghana from now into the future. Lest all the Amidu’s will resign as the goat of Alidu will not speak in public because of State ill-mechanisms that serve as a barrier against any such agenda.

A word to a wise!

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