Asset declaration, game changer in fight against corruption : Addo-Kufuor

BY: Seth J. Bokpe
Dr Mustapha Ahmed (8th  left) Minister of youth and Sports in a group photograph with some of the award winners and other officials. Picture: Gabriel Ahiabor

A former Minister of Defence, Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, has challenged President John Dramani Mahama and other members of the government and the legislature to follow the example of the Nigerian President, General Muhammadu Buhari, by openly declaring their assets.

The move, Dr Addo-Kufuor, Ghana’s longest serving Defence Minister in the Kufuor administration (from 2001 to 2007) said, would be a game changer in the country’s fight against corruption.

“After such an initiative, indiscipline would be more easily brought under control because of the enhanced moral stature of the leadership”, the former Manhyia Member of Parliament explained.

He was speaking at the Seventh Transformational Leadership Conference and Young Professionals Role Model Awards in Accra, which aims at honouring individuals and organisations that demonstrate superior leadership; both personally and professionally in youth and national development.

Asked later by the Daily Graphic whether open declaration was relevant after he exited office, he smiled and said, “we knew it could help but the posture and what has happened in Nigeria now makes a big difference.”

1992 Constitution and asset declaration
Article 286 (1) of the constitution states that public office holders, including the President, the Vice-President, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, as well ministers and deputy ministers of state, ambassadors, the Chief Justice and managers of public institutions in which the state has interest, shall submit to the Auditor-General, written declarations of all the property or assets owned, or liabilities owed by them, whether directly or indirectly.

The law, however, forbids public disclosure of the assets declared by the public officers concerned unless demanded as evidence by a court of competent jurisdiction, a commission of inquiry appointed under Article 278 or before an investigator appointed by the Commissioner for Human Rights and Administrative Justice.

Asset declaration combats corruption
But Dr Addo-Kufuor, who was a guest speaker at the event, said an open declaration of assets by the Executive and parliamentarians on their own accord would reinforce their collective desire to combat corruption in the country.

Across the world, there are different forms of asset declaration — those in which office holders make full public disclosure of their assets; those in which assets disclosed by public office holders are verified and those in which the assets declared are kept away from public scrutiny, as is the case in Ghana.

In a speech that also touched on the quality and character of people selected for public office, Dr Addo-Kufuor said it was time African leaders stopped the use of party loyalty as the overriding quality for appointments to important leadership positions instead of competence, integrity, experience and patriotism.

He urged the youth to prepare themselves for a future leadership that would make the country great and strong.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Vice-President, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, said the government had never doubted the ability of the youth, which he said reflected in the appointment of a number of young people to various positions in the current administration.