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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Columnist: Ackon, Paa Kow

The shame of recruitment scandals in Ghana

Last week, it was reported that the Ghana Police Service has been hit by a massive scandal after a top official allegedly embarked on a fake recruitment drive which saw over 200 prospective police officers reporting to various Police Training Centres across the country ready to be trained after they fell victim to the scheme. The victims were reportedly tricked into paying amounts ranging from Gh¢2,000 to Gh¢5,000.
Just today, Starr Fm has reported that another recruitment scam has hit the Ghana Armed Forces where job seekers reportedly paid over Gh¢2000 each to facilitate their entry into the military. But is this news at all?
Just to refresh your memory, a Fire Service Officer was arrested last year for allegedly duping more than 40 people on the pretext of getting them recruited into various security services including the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). The fireman who took various sums of money from his victims, mostly unemployed graduates from senior high schools and tertiary institutions, as processing fees, was said to have collected a total of GH¢44,100 from 22 of his victims. We all do not have full knowledge of how this case ended.
We need to investigate why people are able to take undue advantage of others in this country. This is the situation at all levels of our society. We have institutionalized corruption in this country to the extent that some African Americans who have traced their ancestry to Ghana say they are “disgusted” by the “high level” of corruption within government institutions across the country. They accused the Ghana Immigration Service of demanding bribes from them as a prerequisite to granting them a Ghanaian citizenship card. This is shameful.
Last year when the Afrobarometer report cited the Ghana Police Service as the most perceived corrupt public institution in Ghana, there was hue and cry from the rank and file of the service. But is it not public knowledge that the Police take bribe from drivers? Why are some Police Officers interested in going on the road than performing other duties? What at all is on the road? Not too long ago, there was a video of a police officer who was secretly recorded begging for alms from a driver. When the news hit the airwaves, the Director General of the Police Public Affairs Department, DCOP David Ampah Benin said on radio that the service has indentified the officer and would act on the outcome of its investigation into the matter. Mr. DCOP, with all due respect, what did you do to this corrupt officer and the many others you have investigated in the past?
It needs to be emphasized that these are just reported narratives. I recall about 8 years ago, when i used to live at La Palm wine Junction near Trade Fair, there was a so-called powerful woman by name "Davi" who was living at Teshie Tebibiano at the time. That woman was a fraudster who was engaged in recruitment exercise for people who wanted to join the Ghana Armed Forces and other Security Services. The cost of her fee was in the ranges of GH¢2,000.00 to GH¢5,000.00 depending on whether the individual wanted to join as Officer or other ranks. She managed to build close relationship with some of the top Military and Police brass which made it easy for her to dupe the unsuspecting public.
She was operating from an air-condition office well decorated with the Ghana Coat of Arms and other National regalia. Alot of the people in the area knew the kind of work this "Davi" was doing but nobody could raise a finger because she was highly connected. It is interesting to know how she managed to provide her clients with appointment letters and other requisite material for training. I am told she was an illiterate who was simply using commonsense to cheat the so-called educated employed graduates.
From time to time, she had some of the recruits coming to thank her in their uniform for the role she played in getting them the opportunity to become Police, Immigration and Army Officers. Sometimes, some of her accomplices who were mainly uniform men would visit her at her office to give credence to her work. In one of the stories i was following back then, she was finally arrested and put in Police custody at Labadi Police Station. Well, I do not know where and how that case ended.
But if this is how security officers are recruited to protect Ghanaians, then we are not safe at all. If a job seeker has to pay money before he is offered a job, what would he not do to repay the debt carried forward? Some of us are interested in knowing the criteria which is used for selection and how transparent is the selection process? We have complicated simple things in this country for far too long thereby creating rooms for corruption and corrupt behaviour. The youth has a duty to challenge corruption, but unfortunately they have rather become victims of the very act they are supposed to fight.
Mr Abuga Pele, the National Coordinator of GYEEDA, was reported to have facilitated the inclusion of over 3000 personnel into the security agencies under the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA). The question is, how can we trust the potency of such recruitment when Mr. Pele, the incumbent MP for Chiana Paga in the Upper East Region has been mentioned for the 'rot' at GYEEDA and the fact that he paid over $2 million to a local consultant whose proof of work done could not be traced?
In all of this, it is important as a country, we begin to build strong institutions, provide quality education to our people and create more opportunities for all. I am convinced that a welfare state based on liberal principles is what Ghana needs. The state called Ghana should play a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of its citizens otherwise; they will continue to fall prey to such human hyenas. There should be equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. This is what the state must do to strengthen itself.
Additionally, we must build our democracy through an open society where information accessibility and sharing is not a big issue. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate on our airwaves, they come with solutions as well. But when there is no social justice, accountability and probity, there is abuse, corruption, suppression and righteous anger.
But above all, a call for constitutional and electoral reform from the Progressives would go a long way to help our course. The Agenda of the Progressives which is built on four pillars - Stewardship, Education, Healthcare and Jobs is what Ghana needs now. These can be implemented using the spirit of inclusiveness that would enable Ghana to use the best Ghanaians; full participation of women and the youth; and above all a leadership that is INCORRUPTIBLE. Ghana is capable of doubling government revenue to pay for our transformational initiatives in education, healthcare and job creation. A Progressive President can do this within the first term in office.
Awake Ghana!!!

Paa Kow Ackon
ackon.pk@gmail.com