I have always known that, by and large, the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian businessmen and women who are awarded contracts by the Government – irrespective of which of the two major political parties happens to wield the reins of governance – routinely inflate the actual value of such contracts.
But, of course, this treasonable act of criminality is invariably committed with the earnest complicity of the executive operatives, often cabinet and deputy-cabinet ministers who award and sign off on these contracts, often after the latter have been hurriedly rushed through the legislature or parliament for ratification.
It is also an open-secret that our legislative assembly is equally packed with the thoroughgoing corrupt and criminally minded cronies and associates of these executive operatives.
Hopefully, these perennial and normative acts of fraud will soon come to an auspicious end, with the recent abrogation of the waste-bin supply contract awarded the Jospong Group of Companies by the erstwhile Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in November 2016, barely a month prior to the resounding defeat of the then-incumbent President John Dramani Mahama by the then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the polls (See “Jospong Contract with Gov’t to Provide Waste Bins Canceled” Modernghana.com 1/9/19).
While, indeed, such acts of corruption and theft were widely associated with the Mahama regime and, before the latter, the John Evans Atta-Mills-led regime of the National Democratic Congress, it also did not help matters that a scandalously complacent President John Agyekum-Kufuor, of the very first New Patriotic Party administration of Ghana’s Fourth Republic, was to rather incredibly tell a BBC-TV reporter that corruption was immutably and/or inextricably wired into the DNA fabric of the human psyche, such that it had become integral to human behavior since the time of the Biblical primal pair or Adam and Eve.
In the opinion of former President Kufuor, at least at the time in question, it was simply unnatural to come across any adult human politician who was devoid of the patently natural propensity towards the commission of acts of corruption, official or personal. Some avid observers of the Ghanaian political landscape are convinced that this breathtakingly cavalier attitude and very public “baptism” of corruption by Mr. Kufuor could very well have contributed to the 2008 defeat at the polls of the New Patriotic Party by the National Democratic Congress. Of course, this observation may be open to debate, but it is well beyond debate that such unbelievably cavalier approval of this most insidious bane of good governance in many a Third-World country may very well have considerably devalued whatever positive governance achievements the Kufuor administration may have been aptly envisaged to have contributed to the upgrade of both Ghana’s economy and the country’s political culture.
We learn from news reports that the $ 74 Million (USD) contract awarded the multifaceted company or group of companies owned by Mr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong, by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, for the supply of One-Million waste-bins, as part of the campaign to make our city-, town- and village-streets clean, had been inflated by at least $ 31.1 Million (USD). As of this writing, the media had reported that the Auditor-General, Mr. Daniel Domelevo, had ordered the owner of the Jospong Group and his partners and associates to pay some “Disallowances” and “Surcharges” into the National Treasury, from where such moneys had been illegally squirreled by fraudulent pretenses and practices. It had also been reported that Mr. Siaw Agyepong and his group of sanitation monopolists intended to fiercely battle the Auditor-General in court. I am not good at statistical breakdowns, and so I would leave the disparate costs of the waste-bins and the waste liners or garbage bags for adept at numbers to figure that one out.
What I am primarily interested in at this juncture is the need for the apparently unhealthy monopolizing of the sanitation industry to be effectively and definitively broken like the Nkrumaist Myth by the Akufo-Addo Administration. By its general track-record, so far, the Akufo-Addo Administration, composed of a crackerjack team of determined men and women executive operatives, is the only government that is capable of doing so because it has shown that it has the will and spine to do just that. The equally unsavory culture of “sole sourcing” and “restrictive tendering” may also have to be critically reviewed and possibly amended or even totally expunged from the 1992 Constitution, with an allowance made for only the most unique of circumstances. We also learn to our horror, albeit not to our surprise, that about 150,000 unused waste-bins, either ordered or imported by the Mahama regime, are lying idle and deteriorating because the operatives of the previous government had failed to have these taxpayer-funded waste-bins distributed for use by either the Ministry of Health or the latter’s Sanitation Department where there were most needed.
We solemnly call on Hajia Alima Mahama, the current Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, to quickly get these taxpayer-funded bins where they may be direly needed. We are closely following events in this most significant and critical sector of our national life and will not hesitate to call the shots as we espy the same.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York