In honour of our founders: Let’s kill corruption before it kills us

Togbe Afede Jhjff.png Togbe Afede XIV , National House of Chiefs President

Sat, 10 Aug 2019 Source: Togbe Afede XIV

We have just celebrated August 4 (2019), our Founders’ Day. In commemoration of our founders, we humbly ask for sober reflection, an honest evaluation of our progress over the past 62 years, and a re-commitment by all Ghanaians to the ideals that inspired our founding fathers.

The Ghana we have today is not what our founding fathers, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Dr. J. B. Danquah and their colleagues, toiled for. The truth must be told – relative to the rest of the world, at least outside of sub-Saharan Africa, our country has retrogressed over the years since independence. We have yet to prove that the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.

Our country has suffered the fate of the helpless, orphaned girl-child, raped in turns, and freely, by the very people who had promised to take care of her. Our leaders invoked and exploited the names of our patriotic founding fathers while they waited for or took their turn.

The constitutional requirement that chiefs should not engage in partisan politics confers on chiefs the responsibility, and the duty, to speak objectively on national issues, and in defense of the national interest. So at this crucial time, we owe a sacred duty to the people of this country, as custodians of the land, and of our traditions, to remind all of us of our “pledge to be faithful and loyal to Ghana, our motherland”.

Lack of real development

Our constitution provides, among others, that, “The State shall take all necessary action to ensure that the national economy is managed in such a manner as to maximize the rate of economic development and to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every person in Ghana and to provide adequate means of livelihood and suitable employment and public assistance to the needy.”

Sadly, after 62 years of nationhood, poverty is still the lot of the average Ghanaian. As we have observed many times, leadership, be it traditional or political, cannot be an end in itself. It is our duty as leaders, to bring development to our people, development that provides them with the basic necessities of shelter, food, water, health, education, electricity, roads and good drainage, jobs and incomes, enhanced living standards, and ultimately, happiness.

We still lack adequate supply of most social amenities. When one drives through many of our communities, one would notice, with shock, that the choked, open gutters that were there, three to four decades ago, are still with us – very little has changed. It’s frightening to imagine how these communities would look like after another 30 or 40 years.

This is the sad state of the development of our country, whose landscape is dotted with wasteful investments in uncompleted roads, gutters, buildings and other government projects, begging for completion, while the elite have replaced our colonial masters in the scramble for our wealth.

Happiness is essential for the maintenance of unity, peace and stability, and for continuing development. So poverty and suffering are threats to our unity, peace, stability and development.

Resort to suicide or migration

Stories about people, including even children, taking their own lives are too common these days. Many of these unfortunate victims have blamed their unbearable living conditions.

Poverty is also the reason why the youth, our young compatriots, think everywhere else is better than home, and so are willing to risk their lives through deserts and across rough seas, to escape from the difficulties at home, and in search of the unknown.

We recall, very sadly, the fate that befell our 44 compatriots who were murdered in cold blood in the Gambia in 2005. What was their crime? They were only exercising their right to pursue happiness, happiness that they could not find at home. May their souls rest in perfect peace.

Poverty should not be our lot

Poverty and suffering in our land is a contradiction. The Lord Almighty has endowed us with a lot of fertile land. The Lord Almighty has endowed us with a lot of other natural resources – bauxite, diamonds, gold, iron ore and oil and gas, among many others. Add to these our vibrant, energetic, educated and peace-loving people, and you will come to the familiar conclusion, “our country is not poor”, or at least, does not have to be.

Given the peace this country has enjoyed over the past three decades, thanks to the tolerance and patience of Ghanaians, and the patriotism of our men and women in uniform, there is no reason why this beautiful small country of ours cannot be a paradise that we all can be proud of.

Corruption, the cause of our woes

A corruption-infested country cannot prosper. Over the past years, we have moved from one crisis to another, one controversy to another, and one scandal to another, leaving in their wake, uncompleted projects, shattered dreams, joblessness, broken homes, …. poverty and suffering.

The list of scandals and controversies is endless: Guinea fowl scandal; SSNIT software scandal; NHIS scandal; GYEEDA saga; BOST contaminated fuel scandal; GFA 2018 scandal; Ghana Judiciary scandal; Ghana Electoral Commission scandal; Tema Port scandal; Cocoa Board scandal; Eurobond scandal; NCA scandal; National Cathedral; Ameri scandal; new 450 Chamber Parliament Complex; PDS scandal, etc. The list is indeed endless.

Corruption has benefitted a tiny minority, but has hurt our country in many ways. Among others, it has diverted resources from urgently needed development projects; increased the government debt; caused leakages that create distortions and make management of the economy difficult; and undermined price and exchange rate stability.

Corruption has also undermined productivity and the ability of the economy to create jobs and incomes; discouraged hard work, and stifled innovation and initiative, as people look for short cuts to wealth; contributed to the increasing crime rate; brought acrimony into our politics, and bred indiscipline and vigilantism; harmed the image of our nation; and led to mass poverty and suffering.

Given the humiliation and inhumane treatment that black Africans are subjected to all over the world, one would have expected our leaders to commit themselves to working for the advancement of their countrymen, and the restoration of their dignity and pride.

Abuse of our democracy

Our leaders have abused our democracy, and the trust of the people, for far too long. When voted, elected or appointed into positions of trust, they suddenly become the kind of leaders they claimed to despise. They become indifferent to the suffering of the people, and even argue that such suffering is self-inflicted.

Some of our leaders have become so conditioned by privilege and so blinded by greed that they consider exclusivity a crime only when they don’t receive the benefits. So, selfishly, they think only about themselves and create opportunities only for themselves, as alleged, for example, in the case of the latest national disgrace, the PDS scandal.

Not only do these behaviours and tendencies jeopardize our democracy, but they also confirm our fears that the fight against corruption, that this country so desperately needs to wage, cannot be left to our leaders, particularly those who are quick to remind us arrogantly that democracy is expensive.

We call on everybody to join the fight

Corruption is evil, no matter who is involved. And it hurts all of us. So we all need to join the fight against this evil cancer. All of us – the politicians, the judiciary, our chiefs, Ghanaians in the diaspora, our workers, our students and the youth, in general – need to change our attitudes and get involved.

The executive, backed by parliament and the judiciary, should commit to strengthening our institutions and the rule of law, and the enforcement of accountability. Asset declaration by public officials is a must – no excuses, because nobody is forced to enter public service.

Also, we need to impose limits on individual donations to political parties as part of the fight. Given that these donations may be difficult to monitor, complementary restrictions on the legally permissible forms of campaign and their duration might also help reduce the incentive to steal to fund political party activities.

Additionally, it is about time we recognize influence peddling as a harmful crime, and treat conflict of interest the way it is treated in modern democracies. Corrupt officials are enemies of development, period!

Our traditional leaders, the chiefs, must also play their role. We can help by monitoring the execution of projects in our communities to ensure value for money. We should also exercise fairly, our right to comment on matters of national concern, and issues affecting our people and the nation at large.

But it would require that we set the highest standards in leadership and in the management of community assets over which we hold custody. It would also require that we stay away from partisan politics, so that we can play our role as independent arbiters and commentators.

Our leaders, traditional and political, should be grateful that out of all the individuals who could, we have been selected to lead. So we must commit ourselves to providing the best leadership that our people can ever hope for.

Ghanaians in the diaspora must join the fight. Sadly, many of our foreign-resident compatriots who are active members of foreign branches of our political parties also aspire to enter government, when their parties win power, to create wealth for themselves and their families.

As people who have experienced better living conditions abroad, returning Ghanaians should think about how they can contribute, instead of what they can come and take from the people.

Our workers also have a role to play in leading the fight against corruption at the workplace. They should focus on ensuring efficiency, high productivity and accountability, which are essential to receiving the higher rewards that they deserve.

Our students and our youth are crucial in this fight. It will serve our younger compatriots, particularly our students, well if they replace agitation over trivial matters, like whether a residence hall remains unisex or not, with a focus on matters that affect their future, their job opportunities, etc.

We wish to remind them that corruption, and everything that stands between us and our unity, peace and development, are the common enemy. Our future leaders must not allow themselves to be used by self-seekers, as serial callers, let alone vigilantes, to attack the few people who dare to speak for them. And they certainly must not aspire to entering politics for the purpose of enriching themselves.

Fellow Ghanaians, it is time we insist that our leaders, traditional, political, etc., use our resources prudently for the sole benefit of the people and in pursuance of their development needs. Leadership is an opportunity to serve, not to exploit. We must hold our leaders to account. Enough of the politricks!

God bless our homeland, Ghana.

Togbe Afede XIV Daasebre Nana Kwebu Ewusi VII President Vice President National House of Chiefs National House of Chiefs National House of Chiefs National House of Chiefs

Columnist: Togbe Afede XIV
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