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Akufo-Addo may have innate foibles, I bet corruption isn’t one!

Tue, 25 Aug 2020 Source: K. Badu, UK

Indeed, I was quite astonished when I recently heard former President John Dramani Mahama unabashedly upbraiding President Akufo-Addo for allegedly refusing to clampdown on sleazes and corruption.

But that being said, despite the harsh economic conditions amidst corruption allegations (Bus branding, Brazil World Cup, SADA, SUBA, GYEEDA, SSNIT, NCA, Ford Expedition Vehicle, MASLOC amongst others), which Mahama failed to act and resulted in his humiliating defeat, he can still muster the courage and accuse his successor of not doing enough to curb the menace of corruption.

In fact, it would be somewhat unconscionable for anybody to infer that President Akufo-Addo has done nothing to curb the canker of corruption since assuming power.

In as much as discerning Ghanaians have every right to bemoan the lack of prosecutions in the alleged bribery and corruption scandals, it is unfair for anyone to blame Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and side-line the institutions which have the mandate to investigate and prosecute corruption suspects.

More so, it would only take an inveterate propagandist or a disputatious character to suggest somewhat anecdotally that Akufo-Addo is not doing enough towards the insuperable battle against corruption.

Let us be honest, President Akufo-Addo’s actions and inactions towards the fight against the menace of corruption cannot be underestimated.

How could anyone point a finger at a man who has created the Office of the Special Prosecutor with the view to combating the corrosive effects of corruption?

How would you accuse someone who can even report his own right-hand men to the investigative body such as the Criminal Investigation Department?

In fact, it would be unreasonable for anybody to suggest that a politician who can even reject the juicy trappings of a ministerial post can be corrupt.

You may believe it or not, the man Akufo-Addo has been in active politics for well over forty years and there hasn’t been a single corruption case against him, either directly or indirectly.

So, why must anybody with a reflective mind think that the septuagenarian president will now indulge in malfeasance?

To be quite honest, it is only the nemesis of Akufo-Addo who would aim accusing fingers when it comes to corruption.

To be quite honest, the appointment of the Special Prosecutor and the subsequent inauguration of the Special Prosecutor’s Board by His Excellency President Akufo-Addo on Thursday 12th July 2018 was a clear manifestation of the president’s unfailing commitment and willingness towards the fight against the corruption menace.

Let us face it, much as the paradox of exposure is somewhat relevant in the fight against corruption, it is not an isolated tool, it goes hand in hand with the prevention and deterrence.

Thus, the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, arguably, remains the single most important accomplishment of President Akufo-Addo’s administration thus far.

I have always held a firm conviction that Westerners are not less corrupt than their African counterparts. However, what makes the people elsewhere much more responsible than a Ghanaian and Africans as a whole is the rigidity of the state institutions and the effective laws and regulations.

There is no doubt whatsoever that elsewhere, the laws and regulations are strictly enforced, and as such the vast majority of the citizens and denizens prefer the observance to the stringent fines and the harsh punishments.

It must, however, be emphasised that inasmuch as the followers have a duty of obligation, it is up to the leadership to bring sanity into the system by strictly ensuring that all laws and regulations are enforced without fear or favour.

So to me, the introduction of a Special Prosecutor is a pragmatic way of tackling the rampant bribery and corruption cases head-on.

My dearest readers would bear with me that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to nation building, and therefore it is expected that corrupt officials will be held accountable at all times without fear or favour.

Corruption, as a matter of fact and observation, is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor—but it is in the developing world such as Ghana that its effects are most destructive.

Unfortunately, however, it would appear that in Ghana, the justice system more often than not, descends heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the remorseless criminals who hide behind the narrow political colorations.

We have, therefore, been hoping somewhat fervently that with the arrival of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the justice system is going to descend heavily not only on the goat, cassava and plantain thieves, but as well as the hardened criminals who hide behind narrow political colorations.

Indeed, it would be a great news if the Special Prosecutor managed to claw-back all the embezzled monies in the scandalous corruption cases involving the infamous Bus Branding, SSNIT, Brazil World Cup, GYEEDA, AZONTABA, SADA, MASLOC, SUBAH, the purported $300million debt incurred on the faded STS housing deal, the dubious Embraer 190 Aircrafts and hanger for the Ghana Armed Forces and over a US$100 million oil revenue loss between 2011 and 2013 as reported by the Public Interest& Accountability Committee.

Let us admit though, the benign and somewhat lenient approach towards the fight against the canker of corruption would not curb the widespread sleazes and corruption which have been retrogressing Ghana’s advancement so far.

How on earth would individuals turn away from their crimes if the only available punishment for stealing the public funds is a mere plea to return the loot?

If we are ever prepared to beseech the fantastically corrupt public officials to only return their loot without any further punishment, we might as well treat the goat, plantain and cassava thieves the same. For after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

In fact, some of us, as a matter of principle, cannot comprehend how and why the people we choose to entrust with the national coffers could team up with shifty individuals and steal gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation without facing any stiff punishment.

Dearest reader, do you remember the ‘create, loot and share’ GH51.2 million dubious judgement debt to Woyome?

In spite of the fact that the late Mills, the then president, warned the conspiratorial plotters not to effect payment, the cabal disobeyed orders and doled out the staggering amount to Woyome, who had no contract with the Government of Ghana.

In theory, the prevention and eradication of corruption should be a collaborative effort amongst governments and other interested parties to cooperate with one another with the support and involvement of groups outside the government such as civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations.

If, indeed, the prevention and eradication of corruption is a collaborative venture, why did the previous governments and their Attorney Generals woefully fail to cooperate with other interested parties to investigate, prosecute and retrieve the stolen monies from the impenitent nation wreckers?

"When public money is stolen for private gain, it means fewer resources to build schools, hospitals, roads and water treatment facilities.

“When foreign aid is diverted into private bank accounts, major infrastructure projects come to a halt. Corruption enables fake or substandard medicines to be dumped on the market, and hazardous waste to be dumped in landfill sites and in oceans. The vulnerable suffer first and worst (Ban Ki-moon, 2009)."

Corruption, to be quite honest, impedes economic development by distorting markets and collapsing private sector integrity.

“Corruption also strikes at the heart of democracy by corroding rule of law, democratic institutions and public trust in leaders. For the poor, women and minorities, corruption means even less access to jobs, justice or any fair and equal opportunity” (UNDP 2016).

In practice, therefore, corruption is a global phenomenon which requires a collaborative effort to prevent and eradicate.

However, in Ghana, in spite of the fact that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to nation building, some corrupt officials are bent on siphoning our scarce resources to the detriment of the poor and disadvantaged Ghanaians.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Ghana’s transgressed and incompliant politicians and other public officials often get away with murder.

But despite the widely held notion that Ghanaian politics is full of extremely corrupt public officials, we have many selfless, morally upright and forward-thinking politicians like His Excellency President Akufo-Addo in our midst.

Truly, despite the unrepentant critics unsubstantiated claims of corruption, some of us are yet to sight, read, or hear a single act of corruption that has ever levelled against President Akufo-Addo.

On the other hand, there are more alleged bribery and corruption scandals hanging on the neck of Ex-President Mahama than any other president in the history of Ghanaian politics.

A typical example of alleged bribery allegation hanging on the neck of former President Mahama is the furtive gift of a brand new Ford Expedition vehicle worth over $100,000 from the Burkinabe Contractor, Djibril Kanazoe.

If you may remember, dearest reader, a few years ago, we read that four courageous Ghanaians had petitioned the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu to probe into the alleged E.O. Group’s $13 million corporate social responsibility fund towards the development of the Western Region which the petitioners claimed to have been diverted by Ex-President Mahama (See: ‘Mahama diverted $13m E.O. Group money; probe him – Four citizens petition Amidu’-todaygh.com/ghanaweb.com, 18/06/2018).

I also recall somewhere last year, we were greeted by yet another news of corruption scandal in the erstwhile Mahama administration, on this occasion, an alleged oil money of GH40.5 million secret transfers to the presidency, via the then Chief of Staff (See: ‘Group explains why Amidu must probe Mahama, Debrah in GH¢40.5m BOST payment’; myjoyonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 19/09/2018).

Somewhere last year, I thought I was dreaming when I chanced on the unfortunate news about the misappropriation of a $175 million loan facility secured in 2012 which was meant to provide seven district hospitals. But I was not. I was wide awake. The NDC hierarchy indeed misapplied the loan facility on the blind side of Ghanaians.

What is more, the then vice president under Mills administration, Mahama’s dreadful handling of the STX Housing deal which was supposed to provide affordable housing units to the security agencies leaves much to be desired.

It was reported that although the deal did not materialise, the then Vice President Mahama allegedly gave us a bill of an excess of $300 million.

After the failed deal with STX to build 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 spearheaded by the then Vice 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.

In fact, little did some doubtful Ghanaians believe former Attorney General, Mr Martin Amidu, when he told Ghanaians that our late President, Mills, set up a committee to Investigate then Vice President John Mahama regarding the Processes of the Acquisition of Five Aircrafts (5) including Embraer 190 Aircraft and hangar for the Ghana Armed Forces.

But if we are to mull over Mr Amidu’s exposition, we can infer that the late Mills lost trust in his then vice president Mahama because of the dubious handling of the deal.

Truly, if the late Mills set up a committee to investigate his vice Mahama, then he had a gleam of suspicion on his mind . In other words, he felt Mahama was trying to rip off the nation, hence setting up a committee to unravel the furtive deal.

Upon a carefully considered deliberation, reflective thinkers may conclude that the late Mills was not happy with the deal.

Tell me, dearest reader, if that was not the case, why would he set up a committee to investigate Mahama, the architect of the whole deal?

We should, however, take solace in the fact that a few years ago, under the Akufo-Addo’s administration, a competent court of jurisdiction convicted two of the numerous corruption suspects in the erstwhile NDC administration and sentenced them to six and twelve years respectively.

More recently, a competent court of jurisdiction again sentenced a couple of people into prison for corrupt practices in NCA during the erstwhile Mahama’s administration.

In fact, I share in the sentiments of the concerned Ghanaians, who have been maintaining all along that the sins of the two convicts are meagre in comparison with the other scandalous corruption cases which took place in the erstwhile Mahama administration.

In a related development, on 14th March 2018, the State filed a case of causing financial loss against the former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD and the CEO of Zeera Group of Companies and Agricult Ghana Limited, who have been accused of embezzling over GH260 million under the watch of former President Mahama.

As I write, more than 22 individuals from the previous NDC administration are being tried over corrupt practices under the Mahama’s administration.

But in spite of the admissible evidence of Mahama’s government’s unbridled corruption and incompetence, the loyalists NDC supporters would want discerning Ghanaians to believe that the erstwhile NDC government provided exceptional governance.

The good people of Ghana, regrettably, will attest to wanton corruption, incompetence and frequent abuse of power in the erstwhile NDC government.

Take, for instance, but for the Honourable Agyapong’s whistling blowing prowess, former President Mahama’s sibling, Ibrahim Mahama, would have evaded import taxes to the tune of GH12 million. How pathetic?

Delightfully, the EOCO ordered Ibrahim Mahama to pay the GH12 million as all his previous 44 cheques were dishonoured by the respective banks. How bizarre?

As if that was not enough, the Mahama administration revoltingly sanctioned a 30 year bauxite mining lease of around 58% to Ibrahim Mahama and his partners on 29th December 2016, just a little over one week for his brother’s government to exit power. How pathetic?

As a matter of fact, the traditional exemption of heads of state from prosecution despite the evidence of a case to answer is wrong, so to speak. For if the bribery and corruption; dubious judgment debt payments; stashing of national funds by some greedy opportunists and misappropriation of resources and crude embezzlement by some politicians do not warrant criminal charges, then where are we heading as a nation?

The all-important question discerning Ghanaians should be asking is: will the day come when “Ghana’s political criminals” find they have nowhere to hide?

To me, Ghana’s 1992 Constitution has to be reviewed and the irrational and inexpedient clauses such as the indemnity clauses are expunged and tossed into the dust bin accordingly.

How on earth can individuals commit unpardonable crimes (gargantuan sleazes and corruption) against the state and get away with their misdeeds?

How serious are we as a nation when we can only descend heavily on the goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go hard criminals who persistently dip their hands into the national coffers?

In the end, it is true that Akufo-Addo is a descendant of Biblical Adam with inherent human foibles, but corruption, so to speak, is not one of his weaknesses.

Ghana’s future indeed looks bright under President Akufo-Addo!

Columnist: K. Badu, UK

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