Ghana Should Be Formally Renamed Republic Of Corruption

Thu, 22 Aug 2013 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina


As a constitutional optimist, I instinctively gravitate towards the brighter side of even the worst kind of situations. Though, the dark clouds of mismanagement, corruption and ineptitude, unquestionably, cast a long shadow over our lives as a nation, I have always managed to see a silver lining in this dreadful triad. The GYEEDA report has shattered this romantic personal perception about our country. It has succeeded in destroying the last vestiges of hope I have for the future prospects of mother Ghana.

The first piece I posted on ghanaweb was about the eternal problem of leadership. Those who didn't like what I wrote called me all sorts of names. Someone even accused me of rewriting the history of Ghana simply for drawing their attention to the obvious. In the article, I contended that there is an obvious problem with leadership and we all seem not to have enough of pointing a finger. And those who appear to make the most noise are the very people who fall at the first hurdle when given the chance to pull us out of the doldrums. The most blood stained part of our short post independence history was preceded by such roof top antics of ear deafening shouts of corruption.

As a result, the lives of Acheampong et al were snuffed out like dogs with bullets at the Teshie Military range. That infamous period was a short blip on our political radar. However, the so called saints of remoralising Ghana had tasted the forbidden fruit, and they had to come back for more. Years down the line the High Priest of that shabby epoch was shocked by the excesses of one of his lieutenant when he was invited to witness the inauguration of his mansion. The opulence he saw was a direct indictment of his brutalities in 1979. His animated shock expressed in the Ga dialect in which it was alleged to have been spoken captured the raw emotions and the rare spirit of disappointment. To paraphrase in the English language he said ‘so ET is this your house?’ was all his shell shocked mind could allow. He knew that with his take home salary there was no way he could build that mansion. Yet, E.T. Mensah is still celebrated as a valuable member of the ruling party.

You would think that as the bogeymen of SMC I and II were used as target practice, perhaps, to serve as a deterrent, corruption would have been buried in Ghana for good. On the other hand, it has rather become, rightfully, a pandemic with unashamed brazenness. Even low key Ghanaian institutions are beyond redemption. The cancer has metastasised and infested lesser organs and the chances of survival is approaching zero. We have to let go the concept that it is some few bad apples that is compromising the integrity of the whole barrel. The problem is such that the entire content of the barrel needs a makeover. This is the problem that led some of the hot heads in the December 31st crime against the people of Ghana wanting to cull, like animals, all those above the age of forty and start afresh, according to them, with uncorrupted human material. I have often asked myself why 40 and not 30 or 20? The fact is most characters are set in stone by the age of 18. So was that arbitrary number chosen out of self preservation? Think about it.

Stamping out corruption can be likened to curing cancer. It is painful and difficult. And you don’t deal with it by getting rid of people, but through leadership by example. The presidency is a constitutionally protected institution with its immunity and indemnity clauses besides its remarkable pension and perks to equip it with the necessary latitude to discharge the duties of the office. I am certain without a shred of a doubt that the success of America during its formative years hinged on one character. The American experiment, which was a novelty, would have failed had it not been for the exceptional leadership qualities of George Washington. There is one classic example close to home – Nelson Mandela. South Africa would have disintegrated had it not been for his exceptional leadership after apartheid. So leadership is everything. Leading by action and implementing policies that might not be popular in the interim while the long term interest of the nation becomes the source of your heartbeat.

As far as I am concerned I don’t expect any sterling performance from a government that is the brain child of PNDC. However, singling them out as a paradigm of corruption was, questionably, a bit difficult. As I was ploughing through the report I thought I d had laid my hands on that illusive smoking gun to formally paint NDC as a specimen of corruption. Then I came to the unexpected. My shock and disappointment came to a full circle when I realised that the seed for this shameful practice was planted during the twilight years of Kufuor's administration and the cronies of the Mills and Mahama’s led administration feasted like jackals.

Now, tell me, if the national youth unemployment rate is creeping towards a security threat and needs reversing why use national resources to train people on how to drive when there are lots of qualified drivers without cars to drive, and dress makers struggling to survive. Is it not the wasting of national resources? Let us look at it from this angle. Such expenditure will make a lot of sense if there is acute shortage of craftsmen in certain industries, which needs to be filled. It’s not that there is a shortage of taxi drivers or dress makers that is crippling the growth of the national economy. This is just for them to be seen to be doing something; it is sign of ineptitude. I will avoid the use of the word waste. Nevertheless, think about those fortunate ones who have gone through the programme and never found jobs after their training. The reality is that you have locked up resources, which could have had an alternative application. Now, visualise the countless number of capital investment we need in the country: roads pipe borne water schools etc. Investing in any of these projects will provide direct jobs and when all is said and done there will be a tangible asset that we can all be proud of.

Manmohan Singh, the current Prime Minister of India, who used to be the Finance and Economic Minister in the early 90s, implemented the policies, which drastically transformed their sick economy to its current excellent productivity level. However, when he opted for it, it wasn’t popular and his party lost the subsequent election. He knew the political impact of his actions, but he had the long term interest of his country at heart. He went ahead with it and now they are benefiting from those changes he instituted at a punishing price to his party. But what do we see in our backyard? And your guess is as good as mine. This is an uninspiring party of seasoned lawyers and intellectuals cobbling together this leaking GYEEDA vessel as a lifeboat to salvage an already sinking ship. For my life, I can’t believe that a party that believes in small government will implement such a flawed suspicious programme.

This is to my fellow Ghanaians. We will have to understand that the government cannot run anything. The only thing they know how to manage is security. And even that it’s not because private enterprise cannot provide efficient service, but due to the complexity of having to deal with multiple firms upholding the law for their individual clients. For example, our primary schools are shambolic. The resources available for their operations are at par if not more than what pertains at the private schools. Can anybody in his right mind compare a government primary to a private primary school? Not a chance in hell.

The reason why private businesses flourish much better than government enterprises is that government employee’s salary is not dependent on the success of the enterprise. When a programmed is not being manage properly all that they say is there is not enough resource, hence the need for more funds, which further drains away like pouring water into a colander. The government is there to provide law and order at a minimum cost to society; any other thing is superfluous. Whenever they pick up these ridiculous programmes like GYEEDA so long as the problem they were commissioned to solve lingers on they have a job. So what incentive is there for them to solve the problem in the first place? Not a single shred.

My sense of disappointment cannot be quantified. Corruption has taken a pathological root in our society, and even our conscience can be bought for peanut. All our leaders have been marinated and stewed in it and no one can claim any higher moral ground. No Ghanaian with conscience should lift a voice of protest for any political party when the verdict is announced. They run the government for their selfish interest, and they are not worth dying for.

The framers of the constitution knew the indispensability and the essence of leadership. They therefore provided the requisite powers and perks to make the position worthwhile. But all that we get for that expensive process is not worth writing home about. The worse is when their flawed character is seasoned with weakness where they cannot tell their own colleagues that this is wrong. Better still, to fire them when their impropriety goes beyond normal human sensibilities. Until our leaders, especially the presidents we elect who are a reflection of the general society shy away from corruption Ghana should be formally rechristened as Republic of Corruption.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr.



Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina