How will Akufo-Addo fight corruption?

Fri, 24 Aug 2012 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

(Part I)

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The NPP’s Akufo-Addo made an emphatic statement during his encounter at the IEA’s Presidential Debate that he is not corrupt, has never been corrupt, and will never bow to corruption. Let’s hear him:

“I am determined to fight corruption aggressively, and I can do so, because I am not corrupt, have never been corrupt, and will demand the same of my team. Accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of good governance. Ghana needs this, Ghana deserves this and I, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, pledge to deliver this to the good people of Ghana.”

Some NPP-oriented political zealots fawning over this pronouncement have been quick to regard it as “The 60 Words that Forever Altered our Political Landscape” (Reference: Stephen Kwaku Asare, Ghanaweb article, 8/23/12).

I cringe!! And for good reasons. Open declarations of this sort by politicians put me on the quivive; they don’t evoke relief. I don’t appreciate them because they mean nothing concrete to me. They are clear instances of the hot-headed rhetoric that has continued to mislead the citizens into dining with the devil at the helm of affairs.

Anytime a politician indulges in self-glorification of this sort, I become very much wary. Corruption is endemic in Ghana and cannot be eradicated on the account of one person’s so-called claim of incorruptibility. Unfortunately for us in Ghana, several factors—the most disturbing of which is the failure of those in authority to tackle corruption head-on—nurture corruption.

It is no exaggeration to say that post-independence Ghana is rife with corruption, not necessarily because we’ve had corrupt leaders but because of the weaknesses of the system that people exploit with impunity. It takes more than mere public posturing to solve the problem. That is why I am not impressed by Akufo-Addo’s stance on corruption. He must come again!

From Nkrumah to Mills, tackling corruption has been more of such voter-baiting rhetoric than the practical action to stem the tide. No amount of draconian measures of the sort implemented by Rawlings could solve the problem.

Neither did Kufuor’s “Zero Tolerance for Corruption,” which ended in smoke because Kufuor himself was part of the problem of corruption that he sought to solve. To him, corruption has been with humanity since the days of Adam. And Akufo-Addo was part of that government.

Although he might claim not to have grabbed property as his colleagues were doing, he did nothing to help solve the problem. Turning a blind eye to the spate of corruption is itself an act of corruption.

I don’t know the kind of definition that informs Akufo-Addo’s public posturing of incorruptibility. If he perceives corruption only in terms of the acquisition of material wealth in dubious circumstances, he is dead wrong.

Corruption takes several forms—and Akufo-Addo’s role in the Kufuor government alone persuades me that he is not incorruptible as he self-glorifies. Many instances abound to prove to him that he is part of the problem and can’t whitewash himself easily.

Why did he cause the three Dzorwulu NPP female activists arrested at the Kotoka International Airport for attempting to export cocaine to be released (freeing them from prosecution)? Is there anything clean about Raymond Amankwah and all those dubious characters supporting his campaign that makes him flock with them (being birds of a feather in this sense)? How about the “uncustomed” vehicle he was using that had to be forcibly retrieved from him for tax evasion, etc.? How about the “backside” of the late Amerley Tagoe?

Of all forms of corruption, the moral one is subtle but harmful, which is missing from the equation for Akufo-Addo. How does he come across as such? The negative impressions that some segments of the society have about him stem from such an angle, if he cares to know. And there are many of those issues to dog him at Election 2012.

His claim that he would be “determined to fight corruption aggressively” is as hollow as Kufuor’s declaration of “Zero Tolerance for Corruption” on Day One in office; and also like the vain attempt by the late President Mills to solve corruption on the basis of his own uprightness, rejection of per diem allowances, and modest life style.

The Ghanaian psyche turns out to be a different thing. Who cares whether the leader is a paragon of morality or self-denial? The scramble for ill-gotten wealth will go on for as long as the avenues engendering corruption exist. Eliminating these avenues and punishing deviants are the main challenges, which successive governments haven’t been able to handle to our satisfaction!

Unfortunately, the spate of corruption is catalyzed by the goings-on in the corridors of power. That is why everybody looking for opportunities “to make it” seeks to establish political connections. None of our politicians can claim to be a saint. Akufo-Addo isn’t one and shouldn’t attempt bloating his nauseating arrogance any further with this holier-than-thou public posturing.

It is one thing making such a glib pronouncement to catch the headlines and another doing practical deeds to tackle corruption. Akufo-Addo didn’t touch on what he would do to transform the institutions of state into corruption-fighting instruments. Corruption in Ghana cannot be rooted out without institutional reforms. Does Akufo-Addo think that his being incorruptible is the potent tool with which to fight corruption?

And he was the very person boasting the other day that under a government to be led by him, there would be no “Woyome deal” of the sort that has necessitated the judgement debt syndrome.

Without doubt, Akufo-Addo’s stance on fighting corruption is not only bogus but it is also disappointing. It won’t help us solve the problem, which worsens his credibility problem. How does he think he can make any difference?

The institutional weaknesses are responsible for our inability to solve the problem; and one would expect him to tell us how he would make the difference, not drawing attention to his incorruptibility. After all, he must count himself lucky to have inherited assets amassed by his parents to cushion him in life. But he has already begun selling off those assets, making room for new ones to be acquired by him. My disdain is deepened on that score.

Akufo-Addo doesn’t know how to deal with the problem. He may be quick to find fault with those now in power, but he hasn’t persuaded me that he will do better if given the mantle. His theories may be high-sounding but his solutions lack substance.

We are particularly concerned about this problem of corruption because it is the canker destroying our system. Corruption in the public sector is the Ghanaian jinx, which cannot be eradicated with mere references to the self. What will Akufo-Addo put in place to fight it?

Ours is a systemic problem. How will Akufo-Addo fight corruption? Is it that he expects those in his government to emulate him as such—and that the problem will be solved thereby? Surely, a hard road to travel.

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.