Adopting God-Centered(Interfaith) Advocacy Strategy in Combating Corruption
''And do not consume one another's wealth unjustly or send it [in corruption & bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful.]''
--- Qur'an chapter 2 , verse 188
“Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.”
--- Bible (Ephesians) Chapter 4 verses 22-24 NKJV
Inarguably, there has never been a time in Ghana's history since independence when myriad of concerns have been raised regarding the canker of greed, graft, corruption, embezzlement and malfeasance as in recent times. The complains emerge from the pressure group; civil society, academia, clergy, the media and more interestingly, some concerned members of our current government. They are all lamenting the rife and rampant spate of this despicable phenomenon in Ghana.
Although the rate of corruption in the civil/public service is so alarming, however, the canker takes its worse form within the cycles of the political elites. From the executive to the legislature and to the judiciary, many of these officials are in the same boat-engaging in questionable and shady deals, economically suicidal to the country. Hence it is not far-fetched to trace the main cause of our current economic meltdown to corruption and malfeasance, clear and simple! Politics in Ghana is now 'Monitics'-ostensibly about making money illegitimately, at the expense of the citizenry who vote politicians into power. Gone are the days when politicians served with the interest of the country at heart. No wonder we see people lobbying aggressively for political appointments because they penned their hopes of survival upon getting political appointments.
The impression our politicians now create is that, for one to be able to out-smart the state, and steal from the public purse, shows how intelligent one is, and mostly the culprits of these malpractices are those with higher education. It reminds me of the adage of Theodore Roosevelt who said, "A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad." And a onetime US Secretary of States is also right when he opined that, "Corrupt politicians, make the other 10 percent (who are not corrupt) look bad."
According to a socio-political and economic think tank, IMANI Ghana, Ghana loses about $4 billion every year as a result of corruption in the public sector. "If you quantify all the waste, plain stealing, political deals, the 10 percent kick-backs and the spillages from the District Assemblies Common Fund, you will not be far from a three to $ 4 billion annual loss to corruption." It disclosed.
A political scientist defined corruption as, an amoeba(a marine species) is shapeless, meaning, it takes different forms, shapes and dimensions. Some of these are in the form of; getting bribed by lobbyists to pass legislations to favor their interest and approve contracts or shady deals for the benefit of the expatriate businessmen and investors and their own pockets; over-invoicing the state on projects, and under-invoicing local contractors, leading to shoddy works; seizing citizens lands and demolition structures claiming those are government lands, only to turn round and sell at exorbitant amount to rich business people, buying luxurious vehicles and competing among themselves without no remorse.
Since the recent exposure of some of our corrupt members of parliament by their own colleague, Mr. Alben Bagbin(whom I called a political prophet) of receiving bribes, some of them wanted to sweep the issue under the carpet, while others called on the legislative leadership to summon him before them for dragging their names into disrepute, others came out and vindicated him big time!
This culminated into a revelation by Anas Armeyao Anas, (my journalism school junior colleague back in the days, who is privileged to be commended by the US President Barrack Obama, in his address to parliament, during his last visit to Ghana for his exceptional and extraordinary job of exposing the rots in our society), an ace, savvy, terrific, talented and adventurous Ghanaian investigative journalist, of a secret tape that captured ten MPs red-handed accepting bribes from lobbyist groups. Since this announcement on peace fm online last week, he proposes to get it telecasted on the national television networks when he is done with editing the tape, within few weeks for everyone to see. And many Ghanaians both home and abroad cannot wait and are dreaming of the day to see such an exclusive video tape to confirm this allegation.
Many Ghanaians, especially those living abroad are losing interest of engaging into active politics, because the system is so tainted and tarnished to an extent that, many of our current politicians on both sides of the political divide see politics as the fastest lane to get rich quick, damning the illegitimate deals they would engage themselves into. Hence they lose respect and value in the society. But why at all should they expect otherwise, when they dissipate state resources with their uncontrollable greed and graft.
Although the government (both under the NPP and currently the NDC) had taken and is still taking legal actions against some of our political office holders, who have been alleged to be corrupt or to have caused financial lost to the state, we always see these court cases staged-managed, just to create impression in the eyes of the public that, the government is taking legal measures to put those culprits on trial. The 'best news' we hear and read in the media is; asking them to compensate the state and go scot free.
However, since our society is predominantly a religious one, with virtually every Politician belonging to Islam or Christianity, where each one believes in the letter and spirit of their holy scriptures(the Qur'an and the Bible), the best way we can stem the tidal wave of corruption is to constantly remind our clergy-Imams and Pastors to always craft and calibrate their sermons and preaching on the negative(eternal) consequences of corruption and malfeasance, whenever these politicians go to the mosques for Friday prayers or the churches for Sunday devotions. Because since they are getting exposed in the media, many of them will try to hide their nefarious activities behind the blind side of the media and they will succeed. Hence the best way to change them is to adopt the divine mentoring system. Using divine scriptures to change corrupt mentality could be as effective as a doctor treating a mental patient, he appeals to his conscience!
Our clergy from the above mentioned faiths have to remind our politicians of these verses above and below(with some wisdom from great men and women) and more which I believe will make them render a sober reflection to be conscious of the final repercussions or ramifications of their actions, because if they continue to be heedless to these divine commands, they will eventually face the consequences in front of God, the Almighty on the last day. Because if you are spared on this earth for corruption and causing financial lost to the state, or asked to compensate the state due to your 'connections' to "The Powers that Be" in this world, you cannot escape the wrath of God and you will have no 'lawyer' to defend you in His presence:
"And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees[of rank] that He may try through what He has given you. Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful."
--- Qur'an chapter 6 verse 165
''Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans[including citizens of the land, who have shares in the wealth of their nation] unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a blaze." --- Qur'an chapter 4 verse 10
"….Nay! you prefer the life of this world(unlawfully, though), While the hereafter is better and everlasting." --- Qur'an chapter 87, verse 16-17.
As if Mona Saddiqui, a professor of Islamic Studies at Glasgow University in London, paraphrases part of this last verse when she said, "When all our energy is spent on making sense of here and now alone,(without thinking about eternity), our values don’t change and our lives become too narrow." And David Campbell, a philosopher also buttresses this verse when he opinionated that, "Eternity is not the hereafter, it is here, if you don't get it here you would not get it anywhere."
Turning the pendulum towards the Christian scriptures, God says:
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”---Bible(Mark) 8:36-37
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” --- Bible(Matthew)6:19-21
“These false teachers[politicians] only want your money. So they will use you by telling you things that are not true. But the judgment against these false teachers [politicians]has been ready for a long time. And they will not escape God who will destroy them.” --- Bible (Peter) 2:3
In a hadith(prophetic wisdom) narrated by Imam Muslim (author of the second most authenticated book[coupled with Imam Bukhari] in Islam after the Qur'an), that; `Adi bin `Umairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Whosoever among you is appointed by us to a position and he conceals from us even a needle or less, it will amount to misappropriation and he will be called upon to restore it on the Day of Resurrection.” A black man from the Ansar stood up – I can see him still – and said, “O Messenger of Allah, take back from me your assignment.” He [i.e. the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)] said, “What has happened to you?” The man replied, “I have heard you saying such and such.” He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “I say that even now: Whosoever from you is appointed by us to a position, he should render an account of everything, big or small, and whatever he is given there from, he should take and he should desist from taking what is unlawful.”
This hadith warns the rulers, politicians, government officials, deputies of public funds and those who are in charge of others about the dangers of corruption. Corruption, as defined in this hadith, refers to the act of misappropriation of funds, properties or assets by the person to whom they are entrusted. As corruption is a violation of others’ rights and privileges, it is considered a great sin in Islam. Moreover, corruption is the root cause of many social evils and injustices. A society cannot function properly without ensuring social justice, so it is the responsibility of every Muslim to abstain from any act of corruption and fight against this evil.
Regarding those politicians who condone and connive with other political elites to make false claims of government lands and demolish or seize lands belonging to the private citizens, that they legally acquired by virtue of their fatigue and sweat, I would urge my especially Muslim politicians to seriously ponder over this scary hadith of the Prophet. According to Sa'eed Ibn Zayb, a sahabi, or companion of the Prophet, He heard the Messenger of Allah(Muhammad, PBUH) said, "Whoever wrongfully takes a piece of land, without due right, he will be sunk down through the seven(layers of the) earths on the Day of Resurrection."
Our politicians need to be cautioned to always remember that, sooner or later they will die and leave these properties(acquired illegally). They need to always reflect on the sad end of corrupt world and African leaders who have left behind their properties and left with only white shroud and cotton and are still suffering from the wrath of God in their graves until the last day, due to their acts of corruption and malfeasance.
Socrates, an ancient philosopher once said, "I have lived long enough to learn how much there is I can really do without…He is nearest to God who needs the fewest things(in life)." True to his assertion, as was mentioned in some hadith of the Prophet, the more wealth you posses on earth, the more accounts you will render in front of God. Especially, if these monies were stolen from others and from the public purse!
It was Mahatma Gandhi, a freedom fighter and founder of the present day India who said, "There is enough in the world for every man's need, but not enough for every ones greed." Our politicians do not need to be corrupt, because they enjoy the lion's share or the lam sum of the national cake-with many perks, per diems, privileges, and 'freebies' such as fuel, electricity, water, accommodation, which has bloated the national consolidated fund so high and the poor tax payer, whose money serves as the life blood of this fund and who votes the politicians into power, is wallowing in abject poverty.
Let some of our greedy politicians cogitate and contemplate on the wisdom of Jalalu Deen-Rumi, a celebrated Persian poet of the 12th century who wrote in one of his poetry:
"Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing,
There is a field; I will meet you there,
When the soul lies down in that grave,
The world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language even the phrase, "each other",
Does not make any more sense!"
Hussseini Yushau BabalWaiz, is the Director of Communications @ Transformation Management Consultancy Group, Director of Media & Marketing@ Energy Source Solutions, Marketing & Advertising Consultant, @ AFRICAST TV, New York Correspondent @ Africa News Analysis.com, a Columnist on Ghanaweb.com & Modergahan.com