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A reader’s view on the ‘Ghana corruption report’, and related issues

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

A retired public servant had some views to share with me regarding my column of August 6, 2022, which had the headline, “Ghana corruption research report: in sympathy with the IGP’s ‘serious concerns’”.

Interestingly, everybody seems to know what ‘corruption’ means. Nevertheless, maybe some dictionary definitions will put the topic in better context.
Corruption is:

“dishonest, illegal or immoral behaviour, especially from someone with power.” (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English).
“dishonesty and illegal behaviour by people in positions of authority or power.” (BBC English Dictionary)
“dishonesty for personal gain; dishonest exploitation of power for personal gain.” (Encarta World English Dictionary).

I find it significant that the word ‘dishonesty’ features in all the above definitions!

Transparency International (TI), the global coalition against corruption defines it as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”.

Furthermore, TI says that “corruption can happen anywhere: in business, government, the courts, the media, and in civil society, as well as across all sectors from health and education to infrastructure and sports.” Also,

“corruption can involve anyone: politicians, government officials, public servants, business people or members of the public.”

My column of August 6, centred on the recently published report, CORRUPTION IN GHANA – PEOPLE’S EXPERIENCES AND VIEWS. Its findings concluded that the Ghana Police Service topped the list of corrupt institutions. However, the Inspector-General of Police, Dr George Dampare, has vigorously challenged this damning tag on the Police Service.

Some 24 institutions were put under corruption scrutiny and listed after the police are the Ghana Immigration Service and the GRA Customs officers.

The research was undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, in partnership with the Ghana Statistical Service and with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

It was “the first comprehensive, nationally representative population survey on corruption in Ghana. The fieldwork involved a survey of 15,000 respondents across the country, in all regions and in both urban and rural areas.” UNODC explains that their research was based on the ‘National Anti-Corruption Action Plan’ adopted in 2014 “after a wide-scale multi-stakeholder consultation process”.

A main objective of the research was to work out measures to deal with the menace of corruption, because of the damage it does to national development.
For example: Speaking at the recent Civil Service Awards Night in Accra, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia revealed that more than GH¢400 million has been lost to ghost names on the Social Security and National Insurance Trust SSNIT pension scheme and the National Service Scheme!

He said: “14,000 ghost names were recently found at the National Service …. Just a couple of days ago, SSNIT found 27,000 ghost names, and they were being paid GH¢327 million. Just these two institutions have cost us over GH¢400 million.”

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THE READER’S LETTER:
Dear Ms Yeboah-Afari
I have been an ardent reader of your column ever since I can remember.
Your piece of August 6 is the focus of this letter.
My interest is on the public institutions that the IGP asserted were not covered. I am not privy to the Research Report. I don't know, therefore, whether the following have been covered.
1. THE GHANA WATER COMPANY LIMITED;
2. THE ELECTRICITY COMPANY OF GHANA;
3. THE METROPOLITAN, MUNICIPAL and DISTRICT ASSEMBLIES.

In my view, how these three public institutions would fare in a corruption assessment would make interesting reading.

The number 3 is of special importance to me; and I believe also that many of our compatriots feel the same way. The way I see it, if and when the decentralised bodies are handled well, pressure on central government for funds for development would come down considerably.

Thank you.

Alhaji A. Yakubu Sirdic (Pensioner)
Accra

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MY RESPONSE:
Alhaji Sirdic, thank you for your thought-provoking letter; and I appreciate very much your indicated loyal patronage over the years.

Regarding your concerns, fortunately all the three categories were covered in the survey. If you Google its title, I believe you will get access to the report of 114 pages.

Anyway, as the proverb goes, ‘many a true word is spoken in jest’; a truth may be expressed through humour. The following imaginative skit, circulated recently on social media by an unknown author, I believe is self-explanatory. It illustrates vividly how corruption can manifest across the board.

HEADMASTER: How much does it cost for passport photographs for schoolchildren?
PHOTOGRAPHER: The price for the passport photo is GHȼ10 per child.
HEADMASTER: No, the pupils are 500 in number so we are paying GHȼ5 each.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Okay. No problem, Sir. You can pay GHȼ5 each, since they are so many.
HEADMASTER: Class teacher, go and inform the pupils that they should bring GHȼ15 each tomorrow for the passport pictures.
CLASS-TEACHER: Okay, Sir. I will inform them right away.
CLASS-TEACHER: Good day, pupils. You are all to come with GHȼ20 tomorrow for your passport pictures.
PUPIL: Mummy, we were asked to bring GHȼ30 for passport pictures at school.
MUMMY: Father, your son was asked to come to school with GHȼ50 for passport picture fees tomorrow.
FATHER: Oh my goodness! This President makes things costly day by day. Even children’s education is so, so expensive these days! I have always said it: This man is wicked!
Moral lesson: LET THE CHANGE BEGIN WITH YOU AND I!

Honesty, transparency and patriotism are all we need to make this country a better place. Every little private act of dishonesty, affects the entire nation (emphasis added).

Please forward this to all your friends, family, colleagues, groups and all Ghanaians. Think about it: Change begins with YOU! Change your attitude, motives and actions.

Proud to be a patriotic, law-abiding, tax-paying Ghanaian.

God bless Ghana.

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One observation I have on the issue is that it seems that in Ghana corruption is always what other people are doing never what they themselves/we ourselves are doing!

If only everybody appreciated that “every little private act of dishonesty, affects the entire nation!”
Moreover, as illustrated by the skit, and captured so well by Transparency International, undoubtedly, “corruption can happen anywhere.”

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