Politics Sat, 2 Jun 2012

Ghanaians lack the zeal to challenge wrongs -Activist

Ms Florence Dennis, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has observed that Ghanaians lack the will to challenge wrong doings in society because many are beneficiaries of the wrong acts.

She said many people had facts about corruption rings but are tight-lipped because they were either involved in parallel wrongs or fear to expose a relative, friend or colleague.

Ms Dennis was interacting with participants at a Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) public forum in Ho on Thursday, on the importance of the Whistleblowers Act.

The forum, which was aimed roping in many more people including Civil Society Organizations into the anti-corruption drive, was funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

She said there was the need for clear cut procedures in all engagements in order not to leave any room for manipulations.

Ms Dennis said Ghanaians who visit Europe normally observe traffic regulations to the letter, but back home the same people flout similar regulations at will.

She said this might be because of the existing weak procedures for bringing offenders to book, including the punishment regime, which leaves much room for pander and abuse.

Ms Dennis said Europeans are not any different from Ghanaians, but it is their well-tested straight-forward procedures that hold them in check.

She said while it might be true that poor remuneration and institutional malfunctioning could foster corruption, it is important that Ghanaians remain principled, honest and fearless to win the war against corruption.

Ms Dennis said corruption has been an age-old problem across the world and that in Ghana, it has not had the desired across-the-board attention over the years.

She said corruption can eventually erode the value system in Ghana.

Mr. Kofi Gbedemah, a Civic Rights Campaigner, observed that the average Ghanaian is “timid”, often fearing to stand up for his rights while institutions supposed to protect people’s interest often contrive to cheat them.

Mr. Pontius Pilate Akpaabey Baba, Acting Volta Regional Director of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), said the issue of corruption is a matter for all as the Constitution of the state enjoins every Ghanaian to shun and fight it.

He called for laws to severely punish those who betray whistle-blowers and the passing of the Right to Information Bill to facilitate access to credible information among others, to strengthen the hands of informants.

Mr. Robert Amoo, Executive Director of OMARK Consult Limited, took the forum through provisions of the Whistle-blowers Act.

He described corruption as abuse of trust for private gain by persons in which trust is vested; stressing that corruption is not a case for politicians alone.

Mr. Amoo said the Act was “to ensure that people, particularly workers who have information about wrong doings and disclose such wrong doing in the public interest are protected”.

He listed improprieties that could be reported to include, economic crime, breaking a law, miscarriage of justice, waste, misappropriation or mismanagement of public resources, degradation of the environment and when health or safety of an individual or a community is endangered.

Mr. Amoo said a disclosure may be made in writing or orally, containing as far as possible the full name, address and occupation of the whistle-blower; nature of the impropriety in respect of which disclosure is made; the person alleged to have committed, who is committing or is about to commit the impropriety among other leads.

He listed 18 institutions, including the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ, a police officer, a chief and head or elder of the family of the whistle-blower as people or institutions to which reports could be made.

Suggestions made during question time include the need to educate on and inculcate anti-corruption tendencies in Ghanaians in schools.**

Source: GNA