Speak up against corruption - Sam Jonah rallies citizens, groups [FULL SPEECH]
A statesman, Sir Sam Jonah, has implored every citizen, especially politicians and public office-holders, to work vigorously to uproot corruption in the society.
Sir Sam said corruption and greed had eaten deep into the fabric of the nation and young people were fast losing hope and the dignity of labour.
Delivering a thematic paper at the annual general meeting (AGM) and conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana in Takoradi yesterday, he called on professional bodies and associations not to sit on the fence, but speak up against the ills and wrongs in society in the spirit of nation-building.
“Your civic responsibility enjoins you to be active citizens in the affairs of the nation.
Keeping silent is not the way to do that.
If you see things going on that are not right, expect your society to speak up so that your members become active citizens,” Sir Sam stressed at the AGM and conference which is on the theme: “Pharmacist for national development”.
The September 5-8 event started with a health outreach to sensitise the public to some health issues and a donation to the Sekondi Prisons.
Other speakers at the conference were the Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Seth Amoama and the Western Regional Minister, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, among others.
He stated that most associations would only be heard when it concerned their salaries or businesses.
“Teachers’ associations, journalists, nurses, doctors, surveyors, lawyers, accountants, architects, planners, social workers, psychologists etc are all present in this country.
What is lacking is the ability of these bodies to assert themselves with the requisite patriotic zeal in matters of national concern,” Sir Sam said.
“In the face of injustice, apathy is criminality.
To be apathetic towards issues that can destroy our country is to be negligent of the present and inconsiderate towards the future; to be indifferent when your voice can make a difference, or to be silent when those without voices count on you to voice their yearnings, their fears, their aspirations and their hopes does not amount to being a peaceful person.
On the contrary, to be so is to be a coward”, Sir Sam quoted from a lecture delivered by the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, in honour of William Ofori-Atta 10 years ago, words he said were so true today.
The statesman said public services, which were already paid for by taxpayers’ money, were subject to bribes solicited by public officials in order to speed up processes or to exempt people from necessary procedures.
Dr Jonah cited the Ghana Integrity of Public Services report, which stated that almost 60 per cent of bribe payers did so as a response to a direct request by a public official, while 24 per cent paid anyway without a request from the official they encountered.
The business executive said findings of successive Auditor General’s reports made depressing reading, and it behoved every citizen to uproot the canker.
“We must do all we can to ensure corruption does not become the norm. In this regard, leadership must be exemplary in fighting corruption, and holders of political office must lead the way,” Sir Sam, who is also the Founder and Executive Chairman of Jonah Capital, said.
“Let me be clear on this: Any society which creates conditions for politics to become the easiest and, by far, the most lucrative means of enrichment and self-aggrandisement, is a society that is doomed,” Dr Jonah, who is also the Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast stated.
He stated that civil society and a few concerned and courageous individuals had raised their voices, but it appeared it was not enough.
To illustrate that he was not the only person unsettled by the canker of corruption, he enumerated a number of high-profile personalities, mostly government appointees, who had spoken about the trend.
“Just last month, the Senior Presidential Advisor, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, lamented over the alarming rate of corruption in Ghana, stating that it is going from bad to worse.”
He said within days after his speech, the Minister of Roads, Kwasi Amoako-Attah, was also captured commenting on the pervasiveness of corruption in his ministry.
“There are a lot of corrupt people; there are a lot of thieves in my ministry.
You sack them, you employ new ones, and when they come, the new ones are even worse than the old ones.
What kind of country are we building for ourselves?” he said.
He also cited the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration as well as the Attorney-General, both speaking to corruption in recent times.
Calling it “a terrible indictment,” Dr Jonah said the concern was shared.
He charged the PSG to make its voice heard on issues of national importance if pharmacists were to play their part in rebuilding the nation.
“You have a respected professional body, and you need to recognise the power of your voice as a collective.
If you see things going on in any sector of this country that you don’t think is right, you have to speak up for the sake of the country, for the sake of the future, for the sake of our children and grandchildren,” Sir Sam stated.
On the investment front, the Jonah Capital Executive Chairman contended that corruption deterred domestic and foreign investments, undermined trust in public institutions, reduced economic growth, “and sadly makes the lives of the poor even more unbearable”.
Specifically for the pharmaceutical sector, he said, corruption endangered lives through fake and substandard medication, unqualified personnel and woefully inadequate infrastructure.
“I recognise that each of you as individuals, for one reason or another, may not be able to speak up.
If you wonder why I speak my mind, it is because those of us who have benefited from the kindness of this nation and the long life God has granted us, owe a duty to God and country to speak up not only for what benefits us personally but for what safeguards the entire society,” Dr Jonah, who was the Chief Executive Officer and President of AngloGold Ashanti stated.
The statesman did not spare members of the PSG, as he wondered how the stores holding pharmaceuticals at the country’s biggest harbour burned to ashes without any evidence or records whatsoever of the stocks therein.
Sir Sam said the country was the only place for Ghanaians and hence “every capable citizen blessed with some ability and a voice must speak against the wrongs and help get our motherland Ghana on its right footing”.
Sir Sam entreated leaders of the country to be fair and truthful and acknowledge that the country was going through excruciating times and the people were enduring immense hardship.
He said livelihoods and standards of living had taken a massive hit during the economic turmoil that Ghana had been grappling with in recent years.
In his view, headline inflation reached 43 per cent in July this year, with food inflation reaching 55 per cent.
“It goes without saying that the poorest citizens are the worst hit as their meagre incomes are eroded by rapid increases in prices of basic necessities like food, milk and milk products for babies, meats, fruits, vegetables, even drinking water,” he said.
“The consequences are that hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians are increasingly unable to afford the necessaries of life.”
Dr Jonah quoted a recent World Bank report that in 2022 about 850,000 Ghanaians were pushed below the poverty line.
Commenting on the debt albatross, he said the massive interest payments over the years had deprived critical sectors of much-needed investment.
For example, he said in 2022, interest payments alone amounted to over GH¢45 billion, almost double the capital expenditure for the year, and about 47 per cent of all revenue.
“This means for every GH¢1 received as revenue, nearly 50 pesewas was used to pay interest.
This is unsustainable,” he stressed.
Dr Jonah said the health of the country was not what “we want it to be. Like in a patient, the systems that must work together to ensure wellness are not functioning as expected and, as a result, our values are under siege,” he said.
He also commented on the waning confidence in key institutions “as checks and balances which are desperately needed for the progress of any nation are seriously compromised”.