Yesterday, Ghanaians received, with heavy hearts, news of alleged conflict of interest breaches and other acts of corruption by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), Mr A.B. Adjei, as revealed in an investigative documentary by the freelance journalist, Mr Manasseh Awuni Azuri.
What is troubling is that corruption in the country has become a major canker that seems to have no end. The situation is not different from what pertains in many developing counties.
A World Bank brief on Combatting Corruption points to corruption as a high challenge in the bank’s aim of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity for the poorest 40 per cent of people in developing countries.
That is why President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s swiftness in suspending the CEO of the PPA with immediate effect, soon after the airing of the documentary, is in the right direction and timely.
The President also referred the matter relating to conflict of interest to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), while referring those relating to the alleged corrupt acts of the CEO to the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP). (See lead story on Page One.)
In the view of the Daily Graphic, the President’s swift action is commendable and a welcome first step to thoroughly investigate the matter without hindrance and prosecuting offending parties, if need be.
For us at the Daily Graphic, it is equally an important first step that should result in institutions such as CHRAJ and the OSP treating the matter with urgency because of its public interest.
It is our expectation that if after the investigations, any act of illegality is found to have been committed, there will be prosecutions and policy reforms for Ghanaians to regain confidence in the fight against corruption.
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The fight against corruption must, indeed, be won at all cost, lest we all perish as a nation.
Corruption is most crippling when it comes to the procurement of goods and services for the public sector.
Apart from the loss in monetary terms, corruption in public procurement reduces the quality of the work done or the service provided for the public.
Indeed, many people have lost their lives on shoddily constructed roads because of the inflated contracts corruptly procured.
That is why the country and all stakeholders must work to make acts of corruption unattractive and a disincentive with punitive measures.
The Daily Graphic also shares the view that to defeat corruption, there must be a three-pronged approach: prevention, education and enforcement.
But unfortunately, a recent study by the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) has revealed that the country’s anti-corruption strategy is merely a plan and that the political elite have not shown the needed commitment.
Apart from the lack of funding for implementing the strategy, some people with key roles detailed under the NACAP were not even aware of the existence of the anti-corruption campaign strategy.
This is not good enough for a country that wants to be seen to be serious in fighting corruption.
The political elite, civil society organisations, the private sector, and the media, therefore, need to work collectively to stamp out corruption in the country.