Unwholesome Overture

Mr Albert Vanderpuye’s alleged bribe overtures to representatives of an American-based development company, TJGEM, LLC as reported yesterday in the media is not only noisome but epitomises the disturbing rot in the public service today.

Even before the fine details of the case are laid bare, especially the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive Officer’s side of the story, coming at a time when graft is threatening the survivability of the public service and governance in general, it speaks volumes about the reach of corruption.

For the government, it offers one of those rare opportunities to showcase their commitment to fighting corruption, graft and the financial malfeasance which have been characterising public service today.

In other dispensations, where the culture of resignation is a norm in public service, an allegation such as the one hanging around the neck of Mr. Vanderpuye would have seen him clearing his desk and heading for the exit. Unfortunately, Mr. Vanderpuye is no longer in the US and now domiciled in Ghana and has learnt from others who were ensnared in similar cases yet continued in office as though nothing happened.

When he, therefore, stays put at his desk, especially with the President most likely not to query him, he is so relaxed and confident that no punitive action will come his way.

Taking care of some government officials, especially at the ministerial level as Mr. Vanderpuye told the Americans, is a dangerous euphemism for bribing government appointees. If this does not suggest the endemic state of corruption in public service, we wonder if there is anything which comes closer.

It is becoming clear that the restriction of corruption to political appointees is an unfortunate blunder given the involvement of civil servants at the highest level in such departments and ministries.

When the AMA Chief Executive Officer referred to taking care of some officials, he was pointing at civil servants who had largely been left out of the net of corruption when the aberration came up for dissection. Now we know that without their connivance, political office holders, such as ministers, would not have their way in making bribe overtures to foreign companies.

Such civil servants, by their support for graft in public service, are assured of their cut which is why they too get involved in the shameful affair headlong.

It is most shameful that a government representative heading a state institution would debase himself to the extent of making such uncanny overtures of asking for money to facilitate the processing and approval of contracts and projects.

That is the story of Ghana today and we are hard-pushed to observe that the President is yet to react to the aberration, especially given the impunity underlying it.

Stepping aside as the forensic probe into the veracity or otherwise of the allegation against the suspect is being undertaken should his employers so wish, is standard international best practice.

A litmus test of our readiness to fight corruption and graft beckons. Is government ready to respond? Time will tell.