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Opinions of Sunday, 23 May 2021

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

More roads and hospitals would have been fixed but for the NDC MPs double salaries

Some NDC MPs Some NDC MPs

I must confess that I had mixed feelings when I read some time ago that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service had submitted the dockets on the investigations of the alleged double salary grabbing NDC Members of Parliament to the Attorney General’s Office for advice.

In fact, my ambivalence stemmed 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 colorations.

I have always maintained that 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.

To be quite honest, it is quite nauseating to see some public officials who prefer to be called ‘honourables’ behaving somewhat dishonourably.

Truly, Ghanaian politics has become a scorned profession, not a noble profession it used to be.

Suffice it to stress that it takes good people—good citizens and leaders to build a prosperous nation. Yet a lot of good people would never go into politics. They dislike the toxic levels of partisanship. They hate the intrusive media scrutiny and they won’t pay the high personal costs of the political life.

Once upon a time, anyone who gained a seat in parliament was looked up to and respected by all, but alas, this is not the case anymore.

Of course, the recipients of the alleged double salaries have an inherent right to the presumption of innocence. Suffice it to emphasise that it is the job of the Police to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or to establish a prima facie case, and not a job for the suspects to prove their innocence.

Besides, there is nothing out of the ordinary for an employee to receive double salary as the pay roll managers are not immune from human foibles.

The pay roll managers are indeed susceptible to human errors and can therefore make unpardonable mistakes on the payroll.

However, it is up to the recipient of such irregular payments to come out clean and notify the appropriate quarters.

Needless to stress that if the alleged recipients of the double salaries refused or declined to disclose such anomalies as being alleged in the case of the NDC Members of Parliament, then such persons have questions to answer.

The vast majority of Ghanaians, as a matter of fact, have a deferential regard for people who have the heart and the abilities to make sacrifices.

Ghanaians, more often than not, hold people who have the seriousness and commitment to do the right thing in high esteem.

Indeed, we are often inclined towards people who have the courage of their aspirations, and yet some politicians would betray the trust we repose in them. Why?

Ghanaians cannot afford to do away with serious and forward-thinking politicians, in spite of the persistent disappointments.

We, (the electorates), are prepared to give our votes to the politicians, who in turn, are obliged to implement expedient policies that would move the nation to the right direction.

Thus, in contrast to our expectations, it will, be devilishly difficult to do away with politicians, in spite of the disappointments.

Given the circumstances, therefore, we should not, and cannot stand accused of exhibiting risible and inborn proclivity towards the irresponsible public officials who prefer to dip their hands into the national purse as if tomorrow will never come.

In most democratic and enlightened societies, the acceptable word is reasoning, unlike Ghana, where respect has always been the norm.

Unfortunately, however, in Ghana, one must always seek to discharge his/her emotional intelligence and show deference for fear of being upbraided for upsetting the antiquated and the crude majoritarian Africa culture of respect.

Obviously, it is that ‘musty’ and dowdy word respect that has given the grown up people in Africa as a whole the licence to misbehave over the years.

If that was not the case, how come our shameless, incompetent and corrupt public officials continue to sink the economy deeper and deeper into the mire, create loot and share our resources, and, often go scot free?

Mind you, you would be tagged disrespectful for criticising for instance, the Members of Parliament who shamefully choose to grab double salaries as if tomorrow will never come. For God sake, how could it be disrespectful for calling a spade a spade?

In fact, our Members of Parliament must earn the honourable prefix/suffix by living exemplary lives and desist from desecrating our honourable parliament.

How can honourable Members of Parliament knowingly keep double salaries to the detriment of the poor and disadvantaged Ghanaians?

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.

For argument sake, if the law can excuse a suspected double salary grabbing Member of Parliament from prosecution, the law might as well make room for the equally important contributors such as farmers, teachers, and doctors, among others.

Why must we allow a section of the population to perpetrate alleged criminalities and then hide behind the law?

I am afraid, 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.

It may sound somewhat hackneyed in the ears of some observers, but the fact remains that we began life with the likes of South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, and, look at where they are today.

They are diligently making cars, Mobile phones, electronics, good roads and good housing. And, they 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.

Apparently, the unresolved cases of political criminals unscrupulous activities often leave concerned Ghanaians with a gleam of bewilderment.

Indeed, 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.”

And yet we can disappointingly recall a lot of unresolved alleged criminal cases involving political personalities and other public servants.

Where is the fairness when the political thieves could shamefully 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 have always insisted that there is no deterrent for political criminals. For, if that was not the case, how come political criminals more often than not, go through the justice net, despite incontrovertible evidence of wrong doing?

We hereby plead with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice that the law is not a respecter of persons, and therefore the alleged double salary NDC Members of Parliament must be investigated thoroughly and prosecute those who are found culpable of wrong doing.

After all, 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.

K. Badu, UK.