By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Folks, there is much public talk and concern about how bribery and corruption are entrenched in Ghana, eating the country alive. All manner of public figures (be they the clergy, traditional rulers, politicians, public servants, lawyers, ordinary Ghanaians, or just anybody at all at home and abroad) are complaining that corruption is endemic in Ghana and destroying not only the moral fibre but also the national economy and the country’s image.
Politicians talking about the vice(s) have narrowed everything down to the public sector to suggest that this endemic vice isn’t being eradicated because it is pervasive and propped up by the powers-that-be.
Politicians opposed to the Mahama-led administration have been quick to blame it as a major facilitator of corruption, which is their main political weapon.
Every one of them is condemning the government while their supporters are spreading the message everywhere to create the impression that Ghana is doomed under John Dramani Mahama’s watch. Happenings at many places (GYEEDA, SADA, National Service Directorate, etc.) are quick pointers.
True, corruption is endemic in Ghana; but it is not cooked up in government circles alone. It is everywhere. Those accusing the government alone are simply immature, ignorant, or politically mischievous.
Turn the searchlight on Ghanaian journalists and you will see things clearly. Their main lifeline is “SOLI” (short form of “Solidarity” or Item 13), which is undeniably a conscience-buying bait, given to journalists who cover events. Dare you not “grease their palms” at the end of the event and anything intended to be published about your event may either be thrown into the freezer to not see the light of day or nothing will be written about it at all. Soli is the “in-thing”.
Our MPs have also emerged as collecting “Soli” from diverse sources to smooth transactions. In civilized communities, lobbying rakes in such “profits” even if it may land the giver and the taker in trouble one day. That is in such systems where conscience guides national affairs!! Not so in Ghana.
The latest is that the Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, interacted with about 50 Ghanaian editors of news media by way of warming up to them and smoothing the way for a cordial government-media relationship. At the end of the event, he was reported to have given 1,000 Ghana Cedis to each editor. Multiply that amount by the number of editors who attended the event and you should know how the “Soli” matter runs.
What is doing the round now is that the Chief of Staff’s “magnanimity” constitutes bribery and corruption—an attempt to buy the conscience of the editors so they will sing the government’s praise.
Bribing Ghanaian journalists with this kind of cash gift is nothing strange. It has been happening since time-out-of-mind and will continue. Without it, nothing will work well for the giver or the taker, more especially for the latter. Ghanaian journalists aren’t well paid, which leaves room for them to look for any means at all to make it. After all, life must go on!
But I am perturbed by the reaction of Kwaku Baako, the loquacious self-proclaimed spokesman on everything happening in Ghana, who is defending his editor and saying that
"To suggest that those who received the monies were bribed is something I cannot accept. Nobody gives or offers a bribe in the open and before a multitude!" (See http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2015/April-23rd/my-editor-received-500-soli-from-chief-of-staff-it-was-no-bribe-baako.php#sthash.5Co9lfzQ.dpuf)
Just one instance: The Kufuor government funded him and Gaby Otchere Asare Darko to visit Denmark in carrying out their mission of investigating allegations that Ghacem had paid millions of Dollars to former President Rawlings and the late PV Obeng.He discovered nothing with which to ratchet up the anti-Rawlings agenda.
And yet another: At a time that newsprint was in short supply in the media houses, Kwaku Baako was singled out and favoured by the Kufuor administration with consignments to boost his activities while the other media houses (especially those not well disposed toward the NPP, were left out). Isn’t that an instance of corruption of morals? Kwaku Baako knows it himself and should be ashamed.
Kwaku Baako speaks at various forums, condemning bribery and corruption, to create the impression that he knows more than everybody else does about the spate. Now that a clear instance of bribery and corruption has hit his own home, he is defending it and creating the impression that the money given to his editor was justifiable. Is that editor on the payroll of the government? Or, is he not being paid by Kwaku Baako for doing assignments of the sort? So, what is the need for the 500 Ghana Cedis that he accepted from the Chief of Staff?
Yet, Kwaku Baako doesn’t see anything wrong here as he goes ahead to whitewash corruption. Such a self-serving posture is dangerous and must be condemned outright.
Folks, do you see how dangerous characters of Kwaku Baako’s ilk are? With them in our midst, we can’t solve the very problems that we all agree are dragging us down. Shame unto him and those thinking like him!!
I shall return…
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