Stealing in the name of our democracy?

Thu, 10 Apr 2014 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Folks, it is no exaggeration to say that President Mahama and his NDC government are really pushed to the wall as far as solving Ghana's development problems is concerned. There is a lot happening to suggest that the going is really tough—and getting tougher every day as its governance style seems to be lagging behind the problems that either crop up every day or worsen.

So far, the depreciation of the Cedi hasn't been tackled to instill confidence in the business community. Neither have measures taken to tackle other challenges yielded any substantial dividend.

The IMF has even gone ahead to cast doubts on the government's performance by saying that the growth rate for this year is far below the government's projection. They have put it at 4.8% as against the government's 8.5% or something over-ambitious.

The inflation rate given for March was 14.5%, indicating that "things are knocking things".

The cost of goods and services is rising, the latest being transport fares. Don't talk about the tariffs for electricity, water, and many others because they are high and reinforce public apprehensions that the government is really stumbling.

As if that's not enough to scare the citizens, the daily reports of malfeasance at institutions into which public funds have been invested are alarming.

The Joy News report about SADA's dealings with the Stanbic Bank (to the tune of 74.5 million Cedis) that seem not to have been channelled through the appropriate means for accountability are the latest in the series of disturbing instances of malfeasance.

We are even not talking about the GYEEDA problem, which is before court but won't allay fears because of the inadequacies of the judicial system that either perpetrate wrong-doing or encourage corruption as the perpetrators become emboldened to use their political connections to advantage at the expense of the national interests.

I am particularly concerned at what is happening at SAD. Despite the sharp rebuttal by the legal team at Stanbic, there is much to ruffle us that some wrong-doing has occurred.

Here is why: "Monies allocated to the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority are meant to improve the lives of poverty-stricken people of Northern Ghana. But huge amounts of funds allocated to the authority are doled out monthly to consultants."

(Read the details here: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2014/April-9th/sada-rot-huge-sums-of-money-paid-to-consultants-monthly.php)

If SADA is to serve the interests of the deprived and impoverished citizens in Northern Ghana but is being manipulated this way without the government's intervention to set things right, how morally justifiable can such an investment be?

Or, how on earth can anybody persuade me that the government is, indeed, committed to alleviating the hardships that have dehumanized our compatriots in Northern Ghana (or any other part of the country where life is war for the citizens)?

Indeed, no one needs to do politics with such issues. The truth is that there is a lot wrong going on that the government must stamp its authority on to control and punish the culprits. But so far, nothing has been done.

It is as if the kind of democracy we are nurturing is more prone toward perpetuating malfeasance than helping us solve problems so we can move our country forward.

At the same time, the Sole Judgement Debt Commissioner is "crying" at the enormity of judgement debts being paid.

Other institutions of state charged with solving problems are neck-deep in malfeasance themselves. Take the Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO), for instance, where funds not meant to be used by it have been used and nobody is being held liable for anything, and you should know where this kind of democracy is pushing us.

The institutions of state that should help our democracy grow remain weak and vulnerable to exploitation by those who know how to take advantage of the loopholes in the system.

The Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department is the worst of those weak institutions, which is why the government hasn’t been able to reverse the negative trend of paying judgement debts or stopping the wanton dissipation of public funds by just anybody with access to the corridors of power. Or just anybody in a position of trust who will be daring enough to manipulate the situation to advantage.

How can we build Ghana this way? Nothing seems to be changing for the good of the country and its people. It is as if our democracy has no life in it. What we see today, we saw many years ago when this paper-tiger of a democracy was established. And we will see more of those in the near future.

Stagnation? Atrophy or what? A negative growth in this kind of democracy endangers national life! Have we chosen to operate this kind of democracy for our doom? I wonder; I really wonder!!

There are many other instances too ponder. In truth, the kind of democracy that we are operating is an albatross that will kill us eventually unless a miracle happens to redirect it toward helping us solve pertinent problems.

I won't be surprised if the situation worsens because in the absence of any workable blueprint for effective governance, nothing can be expected to change the situation for the better.

The ultimate upshot is that public confidence will be eroded in the government top such an extent that at the crucial moment of political decision-making, no amount of bribery or corruption will reverse anything for the government’s good. And once the citizens make up their minds, they will ensure that those responsible for their plight are identified and punished. Only then will they be functioning as those paying the pipers and must call the tune in this kind of ridiculous democratic experiment. The day of reckoning beckons.

I shall return…

• E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

• Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor to continue the conversation.

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.