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Opinions of Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Columnist: Sam, Leo R.

Politicians Are Responsible For Only 20% Of Corruption And Bribery In Ghana

Do you realize that we (ordinary Ghanaian citizens at home and abroad) commit 80% of all the corrupt activities and bribery In the country? I do. What about YOU?
By Leo R. Sam

Most of us have the tendency to point fingers at politicians, who have participated in the following corrupt activities:
1. Selling state property to themselves or relatives at prices far below the market value.
2. Forming dubious companies, which are used in fraudulent ways to steal public funds.
3. Indulging in extreme tribalism and blatant nepotism in public appointments.
4. Buying luxurious mansions abroad ( in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, South Arica etc. ) with ill-acquired funds
5. Hiding proceeds of fraudulent wealth in foreign banks and tax havens.
However, we fail to examine ourselves about the numerous corrupt activities we indulge in regularly in our daily lives.
All patriotic Ghanaians ( at home and abroad) need critical self- examination about bribery and corruption . We must always keep in mind the adage:
“An unexamined life is not worth living”
At the moment it appears that almost 90% of Ghanaians accept bribery and corruption as a normal way of life. The lame excuse given is “EVERYBODY IS DONING IT. IF I DO NOT JOIN THE CROWD THEN I WIILL BE CONSIDERED AS A FOOL.” I and all members of my family will be left behind. I will become the laughing stalk (stock) of my community!!!
Apparently, honesty has no place in Ghanaian society now. Everyone is trying to cheat the other person. Extreme selfishness has now become the norm. The prevalent attitude of most Ghanaians is that wealth is the most important thing to acquire. It does NOT matter what you do to become wealthy. All foul means are O. K.
I am not a Jehovah Witness. I belong to the Roman Catholic Church. However, I strongly recommend that all patriotic Ghanaians (Christians and non-Christians) read the magazine
AWAKE (published January 2012 ). The main theme in that issue is:
“]s It Practical to Be Honest?”
Some of the topics discussed are:
A. The Pressure to Be Dishonest
B. Dishonesty Everywhere!
C. Honesty is Practical
D. Honesty Brings True Success
During a recent visit to Edmonton, an official from the Ghana Embassy in Canada made a very important statement to the Ghanaians, who met in Ghana House ( The Home of the Ghana Friendship Association of Edmonton-G.F.A.E.). He stated: “Many Ghanaians, who have lived overseas know perfectly well how the system works in an orderly and lawful way to make life comfortable and equitable here. However, when these same Ghanaians go back to Ghana, they quickly revert to the CORRUPT Ghanaian way of doing business. They offer bribes everywhere especially at Tema and Takoradi harbours. Custom officials are bribed so that taxes are NOT paid to the proper authorities. Most of the money paid at the ports go to corrupt custom officials and their agents. How can the Government get the resources to maintain the harbours and ports?”
Corruption occurs in countries all over the world but in Ghana the level is so high that majority of the population live in a state of poverty. A very small percentage of the citizens live in affluence while about 70% do NOT have access to decent toilet facilities.
If you happen to be a school teacher, I would like you to consider the following scenario and let us all know what you think of it. Imagine a teacher who does not spend time to prepare her/his lessons properly but just goes to school to deliver useless information to waste the time of students. A teacher of this calibre shows up in school just to be able to collect the salary. How would you classify the action of the teacher? Would you consider this as a form of corruption?
If you happen to be a principal of a secondary school and accept so-called gifts from parents before admitting their children, do you consider that as an act of corruption?
If you happen to be a banker, do you give loans to honest hard working clients, who have the potential to use the loan to establish a genuine business to help the economy or you prefer to give loans to people, who will just give you a big KICKBACK and perhaps never pay back the loan? Do you consider this as a form of corruption?
Whatever you do for a living there are numerous ways in which you can become involved in corruption. Teachers, bankers, nurses, engineers, market women, journalists, diplomats, pharmacist, pastors, plumbers, labourers, doctors, farmers, drivers, lawyers, civil servants, accountants etc. have numerous opportunities to indulge in corrupt practices.
For our motherland, Ghana, to develop properly, we need at least 51% of the citizens to decide to live a corruption-free life. These citizens must determine not to GIVE or ACCEPT bribes. Honesty must prevail in all transactions. This will definitely cause a short term pain but the long term gain will be beneficial to all citizens.
The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) has clearly identified 12 places where corruption and bribery could be found:
1. In priests, ministers, pastors and traditional priests
2. In some traditional rulers
3. In the media
4. In the marketplace
5. At workplaces
6. In educational institutions
7. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority
8. The Customs Divisions of the Ghana Revenue Authority
9. In Sports
10. The Security Agencies
11. The Judiciary
12. Politicians

The bishops have appealed to all Ghanaians to avoid bribery and corruption which is so pervasive in the country.
Legislation can take care of only a very small fraction of the problem of corruption. SELF-DISCIPLINE in citizens is the best solution.
Until YOU and I heed the advice of the bishops, the development of Ghana will be at a standstill.
God Bless Ghana!!!
Edmonton, Alberta