Feature: Why Corruption reigns supreme in Ghana?


Ghana’s rich colorful history is replete with powerful traditional rulers whose word was absolute law in their dominion. Although most of these ruled small transient territories, a notable few held and still hold sway over very large areas even as modern democracy has eclipsed their totalitarian powers.

Ironically, Ghana’s most powerful historical ruler whose immense power is expanding day by day is not even human. It is Corruption. Absolute Corruption rules supreme in our country despite catchy slogans and empty promises from various governments to rein it in. Why? Why?

Many a Ghanaian from Head of State to Street Truck Pusher has grappled with this question from time to time. The latest Ghanaian personality to deal with the Corruption question on a public forum is Mr. Kwame Pianim. His answer, “to me, if you go to any country where there is corruption, the head of state is corrupt.” He followed that with the cheap JOHN 1ST, JOHN 2NDand JOHN 3RD LINE.

Pianim’s first statement is the typical ONE LINER answer most Ghanaians give to the question. “There is corruption in Ghana because our leaders are corrupt.” Always blame others. Being one of our leaders, the Ex Presidential aspirant had to find some other door step to lay blame on. The Head of State was a perfect fit. Ghanaian writers also tow the general line on this issue. Some even go as far as to blame the white man and the Western World fifty years after our independence. This article begs to differ.

CORRUPTION IS UNCONTROLLABLE IN GHANA BECAUSE WE GHANAIANS ARE UNPRINCIPLED, CORRUPT AND COMPLACENT. Before any reader bares his or her claws, let us define Corruption. Wordnetweb Online dictionary, defines corruptness as “lack of integrity or honesty (especially susceptibility to bribery); use of a position of trust for dishonest gain. “

As mentioned above, most Ghanaians think “our leaders are greedy and corrupt.” They use position of trust for dishonest gain. But who are our leaders, where do they come from? Are they not our siblings, progenies and parents? How come they are corrupt but we are not? How does Party leadership from the local, district and regional levels operate? How about members of the various Town Councils, District Assemblies and Parliament? How about the “boys, macho men” who accept glasses of APIO and some “chicken change” from big wits to embark on rampages against political opponents of their patrons?

How about our Civil Servants? Are they the most corrupt elements of our society as stated by Dr Hannah Louisa Bisiw, Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing? How about members of our military and police? What goes on at road checkpoints? How come some people never get charged or arrested for serious offenses while others go “to counter back” or “barracks” for whimsical nonsense? Do members of our judiciary not use their position for self gain and aggrandizement? Are the criteria for dropping or dismissing Court Cases even across board?

How about our private sector? Are our contractors free from corruption? Do they bid for contracts openly or under the table? Are our bankers, accountants, auditors and lawyers corruption-free? Do bank managers and accountants not charge percentage – kickback – on customer loans? Are bank tellers not receiving bribes just so customers receive their money in large notes? Are auditors not lining their pockets and helping customers to doctor the books? Are our lawyers and prosecutors not negotiating with each other with cash offering instead of guilty pleas, reduce charges or sentences?

Are our traders and business folks not bribing their way left and right? Are they not engaging in hoarding to create shortages, price gauging and profiteering? Are our transport owners and drivers not overcharging passengers, overloading vehicles, neglecting essential maintenance, taxes and documents only to bribe the policeman at the road block? What about the conductors (driver’s mates), are their hands any cleaner?

How about our Traditional rulers and family leaders? Are they any different? Are Stool Lands not being sold behind the backs of the people to line private pockets? Who is responsible for the long list of Stools and Skins under litigation? Why are we not able to identify succession lineages? Are outcome of cases litigated traditionally not influenced by Bribes, Schnapps, Eggs, Chicken, Goats and Sheep?

How about the general populace? Pause and think about the number of times you have encountered the following ubiquitous statement. “This belongs to the government: It is not my father’s; it is not my uncle’s.” Now ask yourself who the government is, and also who are our representatives? Do we not take money, Tee shirts etc. from our candidates before voting for them? Once in power do we not inundate them with requests for monetary help? How do we expect broke folks we have known all our lives to suddenly become rich patrons or philanthropists? And do we not offer them bribes to influence decisions?

Every single thread in the fabric of our society has been touched by corruption. Almost every Ghanaian lives above his/her means. The gainfully employed enjoy life styles way over the income. We all make it everyday by CONNECTION OR TEARING MOVES, both euphemisms for corruption? Fellow countrymen, behold the hologram of the corrupt: Any person whose expenditure is above income; any person who becomes suddenly rich without winning lottery; any person who invokes mysterious benefactors, sponsors, unidentifiable friends or family members to explain away income, property, expenditure for self, spouse or children is corrupt.

This article used rhetorical questions to point out some of the reasons why corruption is encompassing us in Ghana. The list is unending. A follow up article will deal with sensible suggestions to help our country break the yoke. When you see it, email to any person you know in authority from the President to your local policy makers or chiefs. It is free no strings attached. God bless Ghana.

Credit: L. Kojo Yeboah, Raleigh NC USA.
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