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Opinions of Monday, 27 April 2015

Columnist: Gyesi-Appiah, Alexander

Re – I Can’t Fight Corruption Alone –John Mahama

There we go again. It is the same old story once again. Kuffour came to power promising “zero tolerance to corruption” and left justifying corruption with biblical references to how the problem had existed since the days of Adam. Mahama comes to power all guns blazing to fight the canker. 52 million dollars, GYEEDA and SADA later, he finally makes a rather pathetic admission, that he has neither the desire nor the wherewithal to fight it. And so the cycle continues.
And in his usual rather patronizing style, (remember the beating of the chest and “I, John Mahama, will fix dumsor” during the State of the Nation address) he deigns to educate the poor ignorant rest of us, how impossible it is for him to know how much money is going down the drain in every government department. I despair with President Mahama, nice chap though he appears to be, and let’s face it, a good ambassador for Ghana in the West African sub region and beyond, yet woefully incapable of dealing with the pertinent problems his own countrymen have to grapple with daily.
And perhaps, this is a lesson to all of us. Perhaps, we should learn not to ever again vote into power, people who happen to find themselves in positions merely through the goodwill of others, as was the case with President Mills; through a feeling of entitlement as is the case of Akuffo Addo or through the misfortune of others as was the case with President Mahama. Maybe, it’s time for us, as a people, to start looking at people like Paa Kwasi Nduom, who have chalked remarkable successes in life and in business; who are on a daily basis providing work for Ghanaians and who has fought from an Assemblyman all the way to forming his own party with the sole aim of serving his people. We are talking here of a high achiever with a proven track record. Enough is enough.
Whoever, ever, told President Mahama Ghanaians expect him to go round with magnifying glasses, scrutinizing every page of accounts figures in every government department. All we ask for is strong leadership and commitment to the course. All we demand of our president is to hold people accountable for their actions or inactions, and rather than reshuffling his party cronies to nonsensical ministerial positions at the presidency at the taxpayers’ expense, to exhibit some presidential authority, crack the whip and boot them out. Is that too much to ask?
Fighting corruption has to start from the very top and only then would it trickle down to all government departments and agencies. So for instance, if the Metro transport lost millions through the incompetence and corruption of managers, then not only would the said managers have to be dismissed and face appropriate court actions, but the minister under whose watch this occurred, whether they benefitted from the scam or not; if they were not seen to have acted properly in discovering the loot and dealing with it, would have to take responsibility and resign or be dismissed.
If this culture was encouraged, every minister would keep a close eye on their departmental heads, who would keep a close eye on the finance department, who would also watch the accountants and so on, all in a self-propagating security network. In a culture where ministerial appointees become rich overnight, however, there is no moral authority for anyone to address misdemeanours under their watch. So rather than pleading with departmental heads Mr President, deal with your ministers!
But even more depressing is the President’s claim that he felt sorry for departmental heads that had to appear before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament to answer questions for not dealing with issues raised in Auditor General Reports pertaining to corruption. I’m sorry Mr President, but we need to get serious here. Who is in charge of this country? Are there any laws in the country at all? Being president is no laughing matter and it’s about time the president, and perhaps the electorate, realized that. If departmental heads are not acting appropriately, why are they still at post? What about their ministers? Have they been summoned for questioning? Has any minister been made to take responsibility for not doing their work in this regard? This is one big joke! Ghana deserves better.
And what happened to governmental agencies like CHRAG? What happened to the National Anti-Corruption plan? What about the Economic and Organised Crime Unit? What is the role of the BNI? Do we have police at all in the country? If these organisations are not performing, then why are their heads still at post? So you see, Mr President, we are not asking you to do it all alone, we are only demanding, that you do your work well and lead your people to battle!
Experiences of other countries have taught us, that the war on corruption can be fought and won. Barbados, once considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world is now placed higher on the anti-corruption list than the USA, at fifteenth. Singapore achieved it through effective administration and good governance. Even in Sierra Leone, two government ministers have been convicted following the introduction of an anti-corruption act. Rwanda’s economic success story has been in part due to the strong clampdown on corruption. What business has President Mahama going round pretending it’s too much of a job for him to do? To quote his former security advisor, if the kitchen is too hot for you Mr President, then please get out!!
Papa Appiah
www.ghanansemsem.blogspot.com