37
MenuWallOpinions
Articles

Letter from the President: The stench of corruption – again!

Tue, 6 Nov 2007 Source: Daily Dispatch

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents there is a heavy stench pervading the whole of Sikaman. Pardon me if I make you lose appetite for your next meal (that is if you are going to have one). But the stench I speak about is like that of a million rotten eggs. From where I’m sitting it would have been better if this stench which assails my nostrils were produced by spoilt eggs. Alas, it’s the stench of corruption, mismanagement and total disregard for state properties. If you haven’t heard, I’d entreat you to just take a pause and leaf through any newspaper of the past couple of weeks. You’d read about the hearings of the public accounts committee of parliament and the various bizarre stories that have been told to committee members by public officers who are supposed to have known better.

For example, a senior public servant has told the committee that some 117 brand new vehicles which were bought for the local government ministry a few years ago cannot be traced. No one knows where they are. Apparently, and this is my guess, some people used the Nissan pickups as spaceships and ‘flew’ them into outer space for some sort of an inter-terrestrial experimentation; no one knows when these vehicles left, who is manning them and when they will be returned. So for now, we have to be content that though the vehicles cannot be traced, someone, somewhere is using them for his/her benefit, which (if you believe Anena’s theory that his illegitimate child is a blessing to the whole country) could eventually trickle down onto the lap of each citizen.

The public accounts committee was also told about how a certain man in Kumasi used ‘reverse ingenuity’ to steal billions of cedis, which should have gone into state coffers. No one has made an attempt to bring this guy to justice yet because the attorney general didn’t know that the docket on the case was in his office. And he even had the nerve to appear before the committee to castigate those who said they had sent the docket to him.

Before I go any further, I think the attorney general should bow his head in shame and quietly walk out of government. It is unpardonable (utterly unheard of) for a man occupying an important position as his to ‘lose it’ like he did, initially denying that the docket was in his office – only to turn around a few hours later to concede that it had indeed been sent to him. The tales that were told to members of the public accounts committee, as I said earlier, have only succeeded in confirming one thing: that “zero tolerance for corruption” has been thrown to the dogs. Corruption is a huge monster that cannot be tamed by flowery expressions and good intentions alone.

It’s a big shame that every ministry or government department that appeared before the committee had done something awfully wrong or failed to do something right, causing the state to lose billions – which, I believe, have been used to line individual pockets.

I sit down here and I want to blame someone for making it impossible for me to follow the sweet words I uttered at my inauguration with decisive action to minimise corruption. Unfortunately, I can’t blame anyone but myself. I blame myself for not having the ‘balls’ to do as I promised. I have failed and I’m very ashamed for all the opportunities I missed to send a strong signal to members of my governing team and the nation as a whole that I meant it when I proclaimed “zero tolerance for corruption”. Now “zero tolerance for corruption” has turned into zero tolerance for lack of evidence.

I have no intention of raking up the past. So I want us to look forward into the future – when I’m gone. I know that the NDC will try to make political capital out of the bizarre ‘revelations’ of corruption and mismanagement at the public accounts committee hearings. I hope that whoever is elected to run on the ticket of the great elephant party will be able to counter whatever they bring his way.

But beyond politics, I wonder how the public account committee’s work will help check the canker of corruption. First of all, let me commend the committee members for, at least, deciding to open the hearings to the public. I’m told they’ve been hearing these same stories over and over again for the past several years. And so whiles these revelations seem like news to many citizens, to the committee members they are merely stories that have been rehashed – with different actors. This clearly shows that the committee’s work in the past has yielded absolutely nothing. And it’s not that difficult to understand why. Perhaps, they just issue reports that are allowed to gather dust on some shelves. It could also be that, the committee members do not care whether the problems they uncover are resolved or not.

But I hope to God that now that the committee’s work has been made public and the whole nation has been given an idea (a tip of the iceberg, I believe) about the severity of the problem of public sector corruption and mismanagement, something will be done. And that brings me to my second point. I hope that the attorney general (if he refuses to resign) will make time to prosecute all those who were indicted at the committee’s hearings.

My ‘principle’ in the past has been to demand evidence before I order investigations into allegations of corruption. Since ordinary citizens have no means of gathering evidence, public office holders have been emboldened to do what they like because the excellent one will shield them by insisting that the whistle-blower provides evidence. I don’t know whether to make an about turn or not. But for now, I want the attorney general to investigate all those who were indicted recently and gather the evidence necessary for their prosecution. Until I’m able to make up my mind, this should send a signal that at least we can bite when we choose to. At least that guy who stole all that money in Kumasi should be brought to trial.

Thirdly, I will like the public accounts committee and its members to bury their political differences and pursue this matter to its logical conclusion. They should ‘pester’ all those who are paid to ensure efficiency and proper management to do their work well. For example, we need to set up a financial administrations tribunal to prosecute all those who have engaged in major ‘chop-chop’. The public accounts committee should take the lead and do all it can to impress on the chief justice to do what she has to do.

As for me, I’m here – ashamed and looking on helplessly as I regret all the wasted opportunities. I know this is a serious blight on my legacy. But I couldn’t have had it all, could I?

Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents there is a heavy stench pervading the whole of Sikaman. Pardon me if I make you lose appetite for your next meal (that is if you are going to have one). But the stench I speak about is like that of a million rotten eggs. From where I’m sitting it would have been better if this stench which assails my nostrils were produced by spoilt eggs. Alas, it’s the stench of corruption, mismanagement and total disregard for state properties. If you haven’t heard, I’d entreat you to just take a pause and leaf through any newspaper of the past couple of weeks. You’d read about the hearings of the public accounts committee of parliament and the various bizarre stories that have been told to committee members by public officers who are supposed to have known better.

For example, a senior public servant has told the committee that some 117 brand new vehicles which were bought for the local government ministry a few years ago cannot be traced. No one knows where they are. Apparently, and this is my guess, some people used the Nissan pickups as spaceships and ‘flew’ them into outer space for some sort of an inter-terrestrial experimentation; no one knows when these vehicles left, who is manning them and when they will be returned. So for now, we have to be content that though the vehicles cannot be traced, someone, somewhere is using them for his/her benefit, which (if you believe Anena’s theory that his illegitimate child is a blessing to the whole country) could eventually trickle down onto the lap of each citizen.

The public accounts committee was also told about how a certain man in Kumasi used ‘reverse ingenuity’ to steal billions of cedis, which should have gone into state coffers. No one has made an attempt to bring this guy to justice yet because the attorney general didn’t know that the docket on the case was in his office. And he even had the nerve to appear before the committee to castigate those who said they had sent the docket to him.

Before I go any further, I think the attorney general should bow his head in shame and quietly walk out of government. It is unpardonable (utterly unheard of) for a man occupying an important position as his to ‘lose it’ like he did, initially denying that the docket was in his office – only to turn around a few hours later to concede that it had indeed been sent to him. The tales that were told to members of the public accounts committee, as I said earlier, have only succeeded in confirming one thing: that “zero tolerance for corruption” has been thrown to the dogs. Corruption is a huge monster that cannot be tamed by flowery expressions and good intentions alone.

It’s a big shame that every ministry or government department that appeared before the committee had done something awfully wrong or failed to do something right, causing the state to lose billions – which, I believe, have been used to line individual pockets.

I sit down here and I want to blame someone for making it impossible for me to follow the sweet words I uttered at my inauguration with decisive action to minimise corruption. Unfortunately, I can’t blame anyone but myself. I blame myself for not having the ‘balls’ to do as I promised. I have failed and I’m very ashamed for all the opportunities I missed to send a strong signal to members of my governing team and the nation as a whole that I meant it when I proclaimed “zero tolerance for corruption”. Now “zero tolerance for corruption” has turned into zero tolerance for lack of evidence.

I have no intention of raking up the past. So I want us to look forward into the future – when I’m gone. I know that the NDC will try to make political capital out of the bizarre ‘revelations’ of corruption and mismanagement at the public accounts committee hearings. I hope that whoever is elected to run on the ticket of the great elephant party will be able to counter whatever they bring his way.

But beyond politics, I wonder how the public account committee’s work will help check the canker of corruption. First of all, let me commend the committee members for, at least, deciding to open the hearings to the public. I’m told they’ve been hearing these same stories over and over again for the past several years. And so whiles these revelations seem like news to many citizens, to the committee members they are merely stories that have been rehashed – with different actors. This clearly shows that the committee’s work in the past has yielded absolutely nothing. And it’s not that difficult to understand why. Perhaps, they just issue reports that are allowed to gather dust on some shelves. It could also be that, the committee members do not care whether the problems they uncover are resolved or not.

But I hope to God that now that the committee’s work has been made public and the whole nation has been given an idea (a tip of the iceberg, I believe) about the severity of the problem of public sector corruption and mismanagement, something will be done. And that brings me to my second point. I hope that the attorney general (if he refuses to resign) will make time to prosecute all those who were indicted at the committee’s hearings.

My ‘principle’ in the past has been to demand evidence before I order investigations into allegations of corruption. Since ordinary citizens have no means of gathering evidence, public office holders have been emboldened to do what they like because the excellent one will shield them by insisting that the whistle-blower provides evidence. I don’t know whether to make an about turn or not. But for now, I want the attorney general to investigate all those who were indicted recently and gather the evidence necessary for their prosecution. Until I’m able to make up my mind, this should send a signal that at least we can bite when we choose to. At least that guy who stole all that money in Kumasi should be brought to trial.

Thirdly, I will like the public accounts committee and its members to bury their political differences and pursue this matter to its logical conclusion. They should ‘pester’ all those who are paid to ensure efficiency and proper management to do their work well. For example, we need to set up a financial administrations tribunal to prosecute all those who have engaged in major ‘chop-chop’. The public accounts committee should take the lead and do all it can to impress on the chief justice to do what she has to do.

As for me, I’m here – ashamed and looking on helplessly as I regret all the wasted opportunities. I know this is a serious blight on my legacy. But I couldn’t have had it all, could I?

Excellently yours,
J. A. Fukuor
(fukuor@gmail.com)

Columnist: Daily Dispatch