6
Opinions Sat, 19 Oct 2013

Should Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency Investigate Corruption At GYEEDA?

By Kofi Thompson

If President Mahama wants to leave a legacy he can be proud of, he must ensure that those at the top strata of society, understand clearly, that he will not shield them when they engage in acts of abuse of privilege, which result in their breaking the laws of Ghana.

(Incidentally, it is time he also quickly publicly published his assets, as well as that of his wife - to enable him occupy the high moral ground in Ghanaian politics. He will find that it will also protect him from the baleful influence of Ghana's crony-capitalists. But I digress.)

Like crony-capitalists in societies in which corruption is endemic, Ghana's current crop of crony-capitalists wield enormous power and influence.

They fund political parties, including the two biggest parties in Ghana, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) - as a form of insurance.

It is precisely because of the power and influence wielded by those amongst Ghana's current crop of crony-capitalists, whose businesses are being investigated by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service, for their alleged role in the rampant corruption at the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), that there is such widespread scepticism in the Ghanaian media that any criminal prosecutions will result from the CID's investigations into the murky affairs of GYEEDA.

Although some will scoff at it for nationalist reasons, there is a possible solution to addressing the problem of a lack of confidence amongst many in Ghana, in the ability of CID investigators to unearth the truth about what really occurred at GYEEDA.

President could easily and swiftly resolve that dilemma for his regime.

Ghana is a member of the Commonwealth. To ensure that his regime is not accused of colluding with the crony-capitalists whose companies are accused of defrauding GYEEDA in the corruption scandal, why does President Mahama not simply request help from the Commonwealth Secretariat in London?

The Commonwealth Secretariat could pay for Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency ( SOCA) to conduct a parallel investigation into GYEEDA's affairs, and present a report to his government - and to Parliament for scrutiny by the representatives of the good people of Ghana too.

A partnership with SOCA will make the CID investigators investigating corruption at GYEEDA bolder in their work. No question. And for that alone, it is worth inviting SOCA investigators to Ghana, in my view.

Although they are yet to present their report, did fire investigators from the United States of America not assist investigators from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) in similar fashion, when they were invited to investigate the spate of market fires in Accra and Kumasi earlier this year?

I have no doubt that they will present a final report to the authorities at some point soon.

Despite the undoubted professionalism of CID investigators, for many in Ghana, only an investigation by outside police investigators such as those from Britain's SOCA, will unearth the truth about the corruption at GYEEDA, and point out all those responsible for it.

I am certain that President Mahama is not personally guilty of any involvement in the corruption at GYEEDA.

A parallel investigation by Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency into the corruption at GYEEDA, will ensure that that scandal does not taint his legacy in any way.

Let him invite SOCA to help expose the powerful and super-wealthy crooks, who conspired with others to steal taxpayers' funds, in such blatant fashion.

If ordinary people are being jailed 10 years for stealing mobile phones, should the powerful in society not also be made to understand that in the Ghana of today, there can be no impunity, when it comes to punishing those who steal taxpayers' money?

Above all, a SOCA investigation will also prevent President Mahama's political opponents from making political capital out of the GYEEDA scandal, by dragging it up again, during the campaign for what will be a fiercely contested December 2016 presidential election. A word to the wise...

Columnist: Kofi Thompson