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Opinions of Thursday, 10 November 2016

Columnist: Badu, K

Re: I’ll make corruption unattractive in my next term in office-Mahama

I could hardly believe my eyes when I skimmed through President John Dramani Mahama’s pledge to tackle the menace of corruption in his next term in office when given the mandate to govern the country (See: I’ll make corruption unattractive in my next term in office-Mahama; kasapafmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 7/11/2016).

“In a letter to his teeming supporters and Ghanaians in general dated November 7, 2016, the number one gentleman of the land said he will implement measures already proposed by policy makers and civil society organisations to make corruption unattractive in the country”.

“In the coming years, I pledge to implement more robust interventions including the National Anticorruption Action Plan (NACAP) to make corruption unattractive and a higher risk activity,” he noted in his five-page letter that was released in the Ashanti Region”.

“He said although the country has not been able to bring down corruption to an appreciable level, what his government and the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) have achieved over the last couple of years is better than the opposition New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) while in office”.

I am afraid, President Mahama’s hasty pledge to tackle the existential corruption if given the nod in the forthcoming general election is a mere rhetoric and political inebriation designed to lure the unsuspecting voters.

It is well-documented that President Mills, late, set up a Committee to investigate the acquisition of five jets handled by the then Vice President Mahama.

So, President Mahama must do the honest thing by providing further and better particulars and give the green light to the committee set up by late President Mills to resume its work immediately without any interference, if he is really serious about combating corruption.

All the same, let us remind President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks that corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation and development.

Thus, it came as no surprise when the international community came together and adopted the UN Convention against Corruption in 2003, and followed it up with its implementation in 2005.

“In its resolution 55/61 of 4 December 2000, the General Assembly recognized that an effective international legal instrument against corruption, independent of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (resolution 55/25, annex I) was desirable and decided to establish an ad hoc committee for the negotiation of such an instrument in Vienna at the headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime”.

The 2005 UN Convention against Corruption encapsulates: “Countries are obligated to take anti-corruption measures in public and private sectors. These can include establishing anti-corruption bodies and enhancing transparency in political financing.

“States must take measures to ensure public services are subject to safeguards that promote transparency, efficiency and merit-based recruitment. Public servants should be subject to codes of conduct, financial disclosures and disciplinary measures.

“Transparency and accountability in public finance must be promoted, and specific anti-corruption requirements, especially in the judiciary and in public procurement, must be established.

“Countries are called to promote the involvement of civil society, to promote awareness of corruption and to promote practices aimed at preventing corruption.

“Countries are required to establish a wide range of criminal offences, including basic forms of corruption (like bribery and embezzlement), trading in influence and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption.”

Apparently, the UN Convention against Corruption is the first meaningful universal instrument enacted to prevent and combat corruption with a view to networking and building on a broad international consensus.

In fact, one of the most relevant provisions of the UN Convention against Corruption is the procurement clause which most countries have given meaning in their national laws, including Ghana.

This is why we must all extol former President Kufuor and his NPP government for signing the all-important UN Convention against Corruption on 9th December 2004, and ratifying on 27th June 2007.

More importantly, former President Kufuor took pragmatic steps and transposed some of the relevant provisions of the UN Convention against Corruption into our national law.

All the same, the crucial question is: has President Mahama been able to fulfil Ghana’s obligations under the 1969 Vienna Law of Treaties following the ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption?

Disappointingly, however, Ghana’s ratification of the UN Convention against Corruption did not dissuade President Mahama and his NDC government from indulging in gargantuan sleaze and corruptions over the years.

Take, for instance, in recent years, President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks have been under the radar for numerous bribery and corruption allegations, inter alia, ‘the furtive gift (the Ford Expedition)by the Burkinabe Contractor Djabril Kanazoe; the Embraer 190 scandal; Armajaro; Mabey and Johnson; SADA; SUBA Info Solutions scandal’ and many others.

Unfortunately, President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks are bent on embezzling Ghana’s resources to the detriment of the poor. How bizarre?

Regrettably, President Mahama and his NDC government corrupt practices have resulted in excessive public spending, less efficient tax system , needless high public deficit and destabilization of national budgets, heightened capital flight and the creation of perverse incentives that stimulate income-seeking rather than productive activities (‘create, loot and share’-apologies to JSC Dotse).

If you may recall, somewhere in October 2010, the British media brought up sensational reports about how the then Vice President John Dramani Mahama, was lobbied by a British Cabinet Minister to get a reprieve for the ban imposed on Armajaro Holdings, one of the cocoa buying companies who were found guilty for smuggling the commodity out of Ghana.

The fact of the matter is that the Armajaro Company was banned together with a few other companies, when the award winning investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas exposed the smuggling of uncountable bags of cocoa into neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.

Shockingly, however, the British media reported that subsequent to the meeting between the then Vice President John Dramani Mahama and the British Cabinet Minister, Armajaro Company was given a needless reprieve and then started its operations.

Moreover, the manner in which the then Vice President Mahama handled the STX Housing deal leaves much to be desired.

Even though the deal did not materialise, the then Vice President Mahama, gave us a bill of an excess of $250 million. How bizarre?

Besides, after the failed deal with STX to build 30,000 housing units for the nation's security agencies, the NDC government entered into another deal with the GUMA Group, for the construction of 500 housing units.

The deal which was championed by President Mahama was widely criticised by various stakeholders, just as the STX deal, following the decision to side-line local construction firms in favour of the foreign company. The unusually high cost of the project was also a source of concern to many.

What’s more, President Mahama and his NDC apparatchiks handling of dubious judgment debt payments also leaves much to be desired.

To be quite honest, it is only the heartless and uncaring who will shamefully give gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation to people who have no entitlement. Do you remember Wayome scandal?

As a matter of fact, there is nothing wrong to pay genuine judgment debts. However, I strongly believe that if President Mahama’s government had handled the payments parsimoniously, the purported GH850 million judgment and settlement payments would have been brought to the barest minimum.

The all-important question the discerning Ghanaians should ask President Mahama and his selfish and corrupt appointees then is: ‘If just under eight years, you have paid dubious judgment debts in an excess of GH850 million, how much would you pay in twelve years?

It is in the light of these unresolved corruption scandals that I am humbly appealing to discerning Ghanaians to be mindful about President Mahama’s weird pledge to make corruption unattractive if given the nod in the forthcoming general election.

K. Badu, UK.