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Opinions of Sunday, 1 September 2013

Columnist: Anlima, Nyamike

Tentacles of evil

I wish I could come up with the name of a region in this world that has developed immunity to bribery and corruption. Corruption can be seen as “an indictment of mankind, illustrating our fallibility.” Does it mean that because of our sinful nature, we Ghanaians cannot resist the temptation of bribery and corruption? Does it mean that bribery and corruption should become a daily routine among us and that it should be practised with impunity? This article will focus on the three Branches of government which are the root causes of corruption in Ghana-Executive, Judiciary, and Legislature.

This branch comprises the president and all the individuals, agencies, and departments that report to the president. Allow me to use the loose term “government officials” as commonly known in Ghana. These are the people that Ghanaians have put in positions of authority with the hope that our lives, our livelihood, and our happiness would depend on their integrity. What do Ghanaians see? We see the abuse of the power entrusted in them! They disrespect their education; they pre-occupy themselves with bribery and corruption with impunity. Their order of the day is to design the intricacies of how to siphon government funds into their pockets. In an environment of greed and selfishness, they develop a strong desire to steal more money and material things-they even become power drunk. The well-intentioned few among these government officials who try to desist from the acts of bribery and corruption are constantly foiled, ridiculed and circumvented by those ones who are shameless, greedy, and corrupt; these are the characteristics of the officials of the government in power-be it the NPP or the NDC. The question of the code of ethics and decency which should underlie the execution of their honourable and faithful services to the nation is meaningless to them!

How do the interpretations and applications function under our system in Ghana? Ghanaians have every reason to emphatically say that this system is nothing but a travesty of justice in the course of interpretations and applications. In terms of generalization, this Branch of government in Ghana is a disgrace and a shame to the honourable and enviable law profession. Rather than interpreting and applying the law on behalf of Ghanaians, they become influenced by the love of money. They see Ghanaians as mere puppets in their hands!
A civil case can drag on for years and years. The judge or magistrate who handles the case is tactful in the sense that it is handled at a slow pace for him to be able to continue enjoying bribes from both sides to fill his pocket. It is common practice in Ghana that corrupt judges do not base their ruling on the evidence of the case; whoever pays more bribes emerges the winner. How can the big disparity in sentencing by judges and magistrates in our law courts be explained? If you are able to bribe any of them handling your case, there’s the likelihood that your sentence will be just a slap on your wrist.

Why is it that it is common for the government of Ghana to lose high profile cases which involve disputes over government land property or huge sums of money? Because of anticipated stakes, judge become inimical to the state and rule against the government when a dispute arises between the state and some Ga chiefs over a piece of land-this is just a classic example of their nefarious acts.
These judges adopt this unwholesome attitude without fear of being indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and removed from the bench. There are lots of judges in Ghana who act in violation of their code of ethics; there are lots of unscrupulous lawyers who act disgracefully to the law profession. When was the last time you heard of a judge or a magistrate being subpoenaed or removed from the bench? When was the last time you heard of a lawyer being barred? It is a system which has been overcome by corruption! It is a system in Ghana where the interpretations and applications are followed in the interest of the strong and powerful. Our courts of law are filled with corrupt judges and magistrates who ignore the correct interpretations and applications of the laws of the land.

The Legislature Branch writes bills into law or creates new laws in Parliament. Do parliamentarians in Ghana obey the laws that they themselves have written or created? There is not a better way to expose the hypocrisy of parliamentarians who override their own laws than what Kwesi Pratt expressed: “The very people who have an interest in concealing assets are the people making the law and I find it problematic.” They are just like their counterparts of the other two branches (the executive and the judiciary) –champions of bribery and corruption.

“…justice is nothing more than whatever is advantageous to the stronger.” This is Thrasymachus’ view of Justice. He adds that “whoever rules-the ruling party is the stronger in each nation.” Should this be a licence for the ruling party or the stronger and powerful to disobey or break the law? Listen to the answer the Moral Realist and a Sophist of Ancient Greece gives: “Whoever fails to keep the law is punished as unjust and a lawbreaker.” It is a common practice in Ghana where the rich, stronger, and powerful lawbreakers see bribery as convenient means of avoiding being punished. They know that an indictment against them, should there be one at all, will come to nothingness.

The processes of checks and balances for the betterment and progress of the country are non-existent. All the three branches pledge allegiance among themselves to connive and conspire to commit the evils of bribery and corruption to the detriment of our beloved Ghana. Their evil deeds and machinations stretch like tentacles and entangle all sectors of the Ghanaian populace. Ghanaians observe that politicians, law enforcement agencies (e.g. policemen), and judges turn blind eyes to bribery and corruption and therefore practice them ourselves-we have to follow them and become participants-bribery and corruption have become a way of life in Ghana.

These corrupt practices have led to a moral decay in the Ghanaian society. The composition of each of the separate branches lacks Worthiness, Trustworthiness, Empathy and Conscientiousness. They are not role models for our children to emulate. Our children who are our most precious assets have been wrapped by these vicious tentacles of bribery and corruption so much so that they are tempted to follow the same path. These evil tentacles have led to the gradual disappearance of the Spirit of Patriotism as well as Philanthropy.

Can bribery and corruption ever be done away with in Ghana? If you have a “yes” for an answer, it is a wishful thinking. The whole world is corrupt; thus, corruption will ever persist! However, it can be curtailed or discouraged instead of being encouraged or allowed through our own unrepentant practices of bribery and corruption, and sophisticated kick-back schemes. As long as the syndrome of “3y3 aban sika, di bi ma mini bi”, “do you know who I am?”, and “do you know whom you are talking to?” remain the motto among our strong and powerful government officials, judges, and lawmakers, bribery and corruption will continue unabated! As long as our judges and magistrates allow scot-free judgment for the culprits because of the bribery they may have received clandestinely, bribery and corruption will ever be practised with impunity in Ghana! Leaders such as Kufuor (corruption, cronyism, nepotism, womanizing), Atta –Mills (cowardice, excessive gullibility), and Mahama (Corruption, womanizing) are not the kind of leaders that we need to be able to reduce drastically the high rate of bribery and corruption that we are confronted with.

“If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas on your body.” So goes the Akan adage. A leader who surrounds himself with thieves and men of corrupt practices will eventually become infected by these evil practices and follow suit. What is the antidote for the predicament in which we find ourselves? We need a leader who is endowed with the best leadership style-Challenger, Visionary, Coach, Role Model, and Team Builder. Our experiences have shown that we can neither have a leader of this caliber from the NDC nor the NPP. Each party comprises thieves, a whole bunch of corrupt officials, and high level schemers for kick-backs. They operate to enrich themselves at the expense of poor Ghanaians. Bringing them to power alternatively is analogous to “putting old wine in a new bottle.” And we Ghanaians will always be drinking the same bitter wine under these two political parties-the NPP and the NDC!


May our country be redirected on the right course and be blessed through Divine Power Intervention!