Final Thoughts – 5 October 2014
Lives are lost on a daily basis on our public roads, partly because of reckless driving but mostly because our roads are not constructed properly due to lack of funds and poor procurement processes.
Quality healthcare has become a luxury. Most Ghanaians cannot afford it.
Lack of quality water and erratic power supply have become part of the everyday Ghanaian lifestyle. The last few months have seen thousands of Ghanaians living Accra die from cholera, a preventable epidemic, because of poor sanitation around the capital city.
These and many other problems facing our society today could easily have been avoided with the judicious use of public funds.
Yet, every month, no every week, we are bombarded with corruption scandals and stories about the mismanagement of public funds. They never seem to end. The government tells us they are fighting corruption. But, are they really?
After the World Cup, Ghanaians were appalled by the conduct of the national team, the Black Stars. Our disappointment in the team and the Ghana Football Association led the President to set up a Commission to investigate what transpired in Brazil during the World Cup.
All those involved in the Black Stars campaign in Brazil have been invited before the Commission. Shocking revelations are being made. We have heard with increasing disbelief how prices were inflated – how 34 Ghana Cedis per meal in a proposal became 35 US Dollars. How agreements worth several hundred thousand dollars were entered into without any documentation to support the existence of those agreements.
All those found culpable by the Commission ought to be punished. They ought to face the full rigors of the law. The President stated emphatically during his recent visit to the United States that the culpable persons would be punished. We hope he will stick to his word. The highest form of punishment permitted by law should be imposed on those found culpable. Heavy fines and long prison sentences will serve as a deterrent to those looking forward to enter public service with the sole view of getting rich.
Just last week, we highlighted the CHRAJ Commissioner’s residence saga – how huge sums of money were being used to renovate her official residence over three years and her luxurious temporary accommodation. The questions we posed are yet to be answered…..but lo and behold we have before us another corruption scandal. This week, the Daily Graphic broke the story of how in one month, the National Service Secretariat had paid over 7.9 million Ghana Cedis to names that did not exist. In other words, this whopping sum of money had been paid to ghost names.
The amount of money represents the allowance paid to 22,612 non-existent service persons in more than 100 districts across the country in the month of July 2014. The current monthly allowance of a National Service Person is 350 Ghana Cedis. Which means that on a monthly basis, 7,914,200 Ghana Cedis was lost to the State, and on an annual basis, 94,970,400 Ghana Cedis was lost to the State.
What is even more shocking about the Daily Graphic’s revelation is the 200,000 Ghana Cedis that high ranking officials of the National Service Secretariat paid to BNI investigators to conceal the rot. This is most shocking and the severest of punishments permitted by law must be imposed on every official involved.
We are all aware of how National Service Personnel are dissatisfied about the allowances they receive from the Secretariat. It is simply not enough to meet the cost of living in Ghana. Their complaints every year fall on deaf ears. Yet there is an extra 7.9 million Ghana Cedis every month to satisfy the corrupt lifestyle of public officials appointed to serve! If most graduates had a choice, they would opt out of this scheme, which is clearly to the benefit of the top officials at the Secretariat and not their benefit.
Public service is a service to the public at large and not a service to friends and family. Recently, we heard that the Accra Mayor arrested a journalist for filming displaced squatters as a result of a demolition exercise by the AMA. It has also been in the news that the former Member of Parliament for Asokwa, was arrested from causing his bodyguards to beat up a man who had stolen his mobile phone. Yet another seized the truck of a fellow Ghanaian because the truck bumped into his car.
These happenings beg the question: is it worth participating in the political process of this country if the end result will be to have public officials who would squander our taxes and seek to cover up their corrupt deeds by bribing investigators; public officials who would arrest journalists for exposing inhumane conduct or beating up a man because he believes he stole his mobile phone. To put it more plainly: is your six hours waiting in the sun to cast your vote in a flawed electioneering process to elect these sociopaths, who would harass and rob you, worth your time and the trouble?
I think at the least this question needs to be asked!
A couple of days ago, the US Ambassador to Ghana told a visiting business delegation from the US City of Wichita that “Now, the reason that Ghana got the second compact [Millennium Challenge Account], which is very rare, is because we now have confidence and faith in the people who govern here and the whole process that those projects can be done and be done without corruption and they can be done in a time-phase manner that satisfies both sides.”
In light of all recent corruption scandals, it is patently disingenuous to make such an observation no matter how much your interest is served. And if you are one of those Ghanaians who lap up such praises in the face of a reality that contradicts these observations, I have one word for you – SHAME!
[Read by Abraham Agbozo on 5 October 2014]