I have touched on the subject of corruption a couple of times in my pieces of writings. This topic, as comprehensive as anyone can tackle it at any given time, is not exhaustive because it transforms and assume different forms. This phenomenon of corruption, makes the subject an evergreen one that must be a matter of concern to every body.
I have touched on the effects of corruption on some occasions, on the lives of citizens. The overall impact is that, that which has to be done for the collective good, gets abandoned, while the few who are able to become actors in the corruption chain, take the benefit it offers.
The commitment to fight corruption can never on its own, fight corruption. It goes beyond pledges and rhetorics. It require actions that the stakeholders must see. If the governance system is so enclosed, making it impossible for others to participate and act within the sphere, corruption can be to the maximum, and yet, no one would have an idea because there is a conscious commitment to keep the loot among the few within that circle.
In Ghana, governments, since the inception of the nation, have either lost elections or were overthrown in coup d’ états on allegations of corruption. The citizens have been mobilized along these lines over the years to uproot regime after regime. One question that anyone interested in this subject would ask is, “how come, that all these years, elections were won or lost on the back of allegations of corruption, yet, the canker appears to be on the increase year after year, eating deep into our society?”
In an attempt to answer, one must measure the promises that win elections as against the very attitudes that government give to corruption cases when they arise. If a government promises “zero tolerance for corrupt” and yet when confronted with issues of corruption, turns around to say “corruption is as old as Adam”, then we have a huge problem on our hands.
When state institutions that have been charged with the mandate of dealing with corruption, have decided to get themselves engrossed in it, then we have a huge problem.
In this development, when some top officials of the judiciary were caught on video clips taking bribes in exchange of promise to deliver justice to those they were taking the bribes from, they denied and proceeded to court. This was a very embarrassing situation for Ghana as those who were the last resort to justice in dealing with corrupt activities were themselves buried in the thick of affairs of corruption.
This has the tendency of throwing the state into disarray as citizens could have opted to use other means of settling issues of corruption as against using the law courts, the official unit charged with the responsibility of dealing with such acts.
As I noted some time ago, issues of corruption had been mainly laid at the door steps of government, the Executive Arm of Government. Little was heard about the two other arms – the Judiciary and the Legislature. It was only after the situation cited above with regards to officials of the judiciary taking bribes, that attention began spreading to appreciate the fact that these institutions were not above reproach with the corruption audacity.
The recent issue relating to allegations against the First Deputy Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament and a Minister nominee is a matter of interest to the public. Issues of legislative corruption had been in the news with leadership of the House admitting the existence of such acts within their midst. Allegations of payment of monies to members to pass Bills, Laws and especially Agreements, have been in the public domain rather weakly. It was only after the recent case of Honourable Mahama Ayariga alleging bribery that the citizens had focused their lenses on the institution to ascertain the manner and nature with which they would pursue this case to the letter.
The state is watching with disdain, the level of treatment being meted out to a Member of Parliament who alleged bribery against a minister nominee and his other colleagues in the House of Parliament. The iron fist with which this process is being handled, has the tendency of bullying citizens into submission, to the extent that instead of bringing clear issues of corruption against those with power, they would prefer holding it to themselves for fear of intimidation.
My difficulty remains, that so long as Parliament remain divisive on political lines, even though they have the power to investigate their own cases, for the purpose of establishing credibility beyond the eyes of the Members of the House, some rather independent committee could have been constituted to look into this matter.
The reality remain, people would hardly give out their own colleagues. This was a matter involving a Minister, a First Deputy Speaker, and was to be investigated by a Minister of State and a colleague Member of Parliament who was the chairman of the Vetting Committee of Parliament that vetted and passed the one who was to investigate him.
The interesting reality is that, all these individuals involved in this act are members of the same political party. This raises serious issues within the public space and the question that arises then is, “how possible is it to investigate a colleague minister and a colleague Member of Parliament all from the same party as principal actors in a corruption case, and be able to present reports that would implicate them and eventually implicate your party?”
That Parliament assumed jurisdiction over the matter, as lawful as they may appear to have played their role in this case, its name may not appear to be cleared. So long as a cross section of the Ghanaian public continue to hold reservations on the nature of work done and the recommendations put forward, the institution remain unclean.
Parliament, even in that process, could have relaxed their mode and not treat the whistle blower as a criminal. How would such treatment on a Havard trained lawyer, embolden a village illiterate in Kumawu to act on issues of corruption he comes across? How does such motivate a person who is not a Member of Parliament to rise to the occasion and blow the whistle on such category of people.
Corruption is an important social problem that must be handled with some decorum and tact. Being overly dismissive and apprehensive over people who make allegations of corruption would rather force people to coil into their shells making the subject of corruption an underground issue that would bring our national wheels to a halt in no time.
For some of us, it appeared we had no doubt of the outcome of the findings of the committee established from the way it conducted its business from the very first day it began its work in the eye of the public. The outcome was as expected and came as no surprise. My difficulty however is that how do we make strides in fighting this monstrous beast that is silently eating into our society?
I must state emphatically, that, I have no doubt on the allegations made by the Honourable Mahama Ayariga, however, so long as the institution dealt with the matter and had established its outcome, as a citizen, I am binded. That does not take away my reservations on the subject that a rather poor job was done to cover the principal actors while presenting the whistle blower on the slaughter house for public ridicule.
It stands to refer that even when some judges were caught on video, they proceeded to deny having received bribes. It would make no extraordinary difference for the principal actors in this case to deny their involvement in the allegations.
Any system that is interested in fighting corruption would institute measures that lure and motivate accusers to speak and be forthcoming with information that would lead to uncovering corruption. However, a state that is not interested in the fight against corruption would institute measures that intimidate and frustrate accusers and prevent them from speaking and bringing out information thereby concealing the acts.
Corruption is difficult to fight especially when the actors collaborate effectively to dismiss the processes that would lead to uncovering it. In the end, the effect visits the majority of our society – poverty, deprivation, crime, and other ills of society. Let us stand together and speak, as well as act against corruption. It is only when we shed light and take tough steps to deal with individuals involved in corruption without regards to their class and affiliation that we can come together and celebrate victory over the death of that monstrous cancer in our society.