General News of Wednesday, 9 December 2015
The Ghana Integrity Initiative has cast huge doubt over President John Mahama’s touted achievements in fighting corruption, accusing the government of “just busy tickling with the symptoms”.
Unconvinced by President John Mahama’s commitment to fighting the canker, the Ghana chapter of Transparency International, is urging Ghana’s president to go for a mentoring session from some heads of state on the continent who are making inroads in the fight against corruption.
“GII wishes to appeal to President John Dramani Mahama to turn to President Muhammudu Buhari and President John Magufuli for mentoring and act more swiftly to curb corruption in this country,” GII said in a statement signed by its Executive Director Vitus Adaboo Azeem.
The statement added, “Action on the cases so far unearthed must be swift, fair and cover everybody that is indicted, no matter their position in government or the ruling NDC. THE TIME TO NAME, SHAME AND JAIL IS NOW. ANAS AND TIGER EYE HAVE SHOWN THE WAY. This is the only way to eliminate or at least reduce corruption and impunity in the country. It is time to BREAK THE CORRUPTION CHAIN.”
The Ghana Integrity Initiative’s statement is grounded on the fact that whilst other African countries are busily subduing corruption, “In Ghana, every week comes with a more serious case of corruption being unearthed. The list of cases of corruption and the amounts involved and the personalities mentioned are simply mindboggling and unbelievable.”
GII’s position is coming at a time when Ghana joined the world to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day.
President at the ceremony enumerated a number of achievements chalked by his government in the area of corruption.
Making reference to corruption at the National Service Secretariat, President Mahama said about 18.5 million cedis have been retrieved to the state.
President Mahama noted that many people have been prosecuted with regard to the national service corruption scandal.
Touching on the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Agency (GYEEDA), judgment debts paid to businessman Alfred Woyome among other cases ongoing at the courts, he said over 20 million cedis has been recovered.
The President today said the Attorney General, working in concert with anti-corruption institutions has been instructed to recover all the monies wrongfully paid by the end of the year.
Interestingly, a similar order and timeline was given by the president two years for the same monies to be recovered.
“I have instructed the Minister for Justice and Attorney-General, EOCO and the Minister of Finance to work with the Minister for Youth and Sports to achieve the following by 31st December 2013: a. Secure refunds of monies wrongfully paid to or appropriated by any individuals or companies from contracts with SADA, GYEEDA, and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and to retrieve monies wrongfully paid to Waterville and Isofoton.”
Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story, Vitus Azeem questioned government’s ability to recover the monies when orders given two years ago have been flouted.
“How can we be convinced that there is a commitment to get these monies paid,” he asked, remarking “we are not seeing the actual action.”
Below is GII’s statement
A PRESS RELEASE TO MARK THE INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY IN GHANA
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2015 BYGHANA INTEGRITY INITIATIVE (GHANA CHAPTER OF TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL)
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in October 2003 and requested that the Secretary-General designate the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as the Secretariat for the Convention’s Conference of States Parties. The Assembly further designated 9 December as the International Anti-Corruption Day, to raise awareness of corruption and of the role of the Convention in combating and preventing it. The International Anti-Corruption Day has since been observed annually, on 9 December. GII issues this Press Release to mark the day and draw Ghanaians’ attention to the scourge of corruption in Ghana and the need for us to fight it.
Corruption, affects all countries and societies but more seriously poor countries poor citizens and the vulnerable in society. Corruption undermines the democratic system, destroys state institutions, contributes to governmental instability, prevents economic development and increases inequality. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law, causing human rights abuses and creating bureaucratic quagmires leading to public sector corruption which in turn drives private sector corruption.
Corruption allows criminals to walk away from justice by subverting the judicial system. They are able to buy off law enforcement agencies and the judiciary. Persons who stand up against the corrupt and corrupt practices in society are very often either bought off, blackmailed into silence through death threats or forced to face financial ruin and at worst physically eliminated.
Because of the state of underdevelopment and because coruption stiffles development, corruption shoiuld be seen as public enemy number one in Africa. Inspite of the fact that virtually every African leader on the assumption of office pledges zero tolerance for coruption, the canker still persists in almost all African countries at varying degress, Ghana being no exception, due to lack of political will-power and unbriddled greed on the part of the leaders.
Of the ten most corrupt countries in the world six are in sub-saharan Africa. And corruption costs African countries huge sumes of money. According to African Union estimates in 2002, corruption cost the continent roughly $150 billion a year. To put that in perspective, developed countries gave $22.5 billion in aid to sub-Saharan Africa in 2008, says OECD.
A RAY OF HOPE?
Despite the sombre situation on the African continent, there appers to be a ray of hope emerging in Tanzania and Nigeria. The newly-elected president of Tanzania, John Magulufi who ran his campaign on the pledge of fighting waste and corruption in government has begun a house-cleaning exercise. He has thrust the mop into corners of the government previously unvisited by the cleaners.
This year, Tanzania will not be holding official ceremonies on its 54th Independence Day. Instead, the day should be spent cleaning up the environment and the money used for more pressing issuess, ordered President Magufuli, who was elected barely a month ago. “It is so shameful that we are spending huge amounts of money to celebrate 54 years of independence when our people are dying of cholera,” he fumed at his people.
He has whacked off sitting allowances for meetings of government officials, including members of parliament, and with the same stroke, halted holding meetings and seminars in expensive hotels when there are so many ministry board rooms available. These meetings, including Board meetings, comprise mainly government officials who use their official time for these meetings. “How the hell are you paid allowances for a job for which you are paid a monthly salary?”, he asked. In Ghana, some public officers serve on many boards, even up to 5 boards, and are paid monthly sitting allowances that are more than the monthly salaries of many full time employees. Some make sure that they hold monthly board meetings to justify the payment of their monthly allowances.
And it gets more exciting. On Saturday, November 28, President Magulufi announced the firing of Tanzania’s Revenue Authority Commissioner over 400 missing containers at the port worth 80 billion Tanzania Shillings. The ports in Tanzania are said to be one of the most corrupt enclaves in the economy.
At the west corner of the continent, another newly elected leader, General Muhamadu Buhari of Nigeria, is not far behind in the fight against corruption. General Muhammudu Buhari appears to be the only other African leader who has, in the short time in office, displayed a strong appetite to fight corruption. He says he wants to be entered into the records as the Nigerian president who fought corruption to a standstill. And he, too, has taken the fight to the corrupt officials of the previous regime of Goodluck Jonathan.
Buhari began by firing the entire board of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). But still felt that was not enough; he has taken over the driver’s seat to direct the NNPC and shunted those previously in charge to the back seat. To show he is not about to pull any punches, Buhari has gone after Diezani Alison-Madueke, the first female to be made Oil Minister in charge of the sprawling Nigerian oil industry. At the behest of the Buhari government, Ms Alison-Madueke has been arrested in London by the British authorities for alleged corruption and money laundering.
A MESSAGE FOR GHANA?
In Ghana, every week comes with a more serious case of corruption being unearthened. The list of cases of coruption and the amounts involved and the presonalities mentioned are simply mind boggling and unbelievable. Tax payers monies are wasted to establish committes of enquiry from which nothing cocrete comes out of. Instead of fighting the problem, the governemnt is just busy tickling with the symptoms creating the impression that the government establishment and its operators benefits from the corruption
IS IT TOO EARLY TO REJOICE OVER NIGERIA AND TANZANIA?
The regimes of Buhari and Magufuli are still in their infant lives. It is the hope of GII that they will not lose guard and succeed to show as a shining example for the whole continent to follow.
The refreshing aspects of President John Magulufi and President Muhamadu Buhari is fighting corruption was an election promise they both made and they have set about doing that after barely few months in office.
A CALL TO ACTION!
GII wishes to appeal to President John Dramani Mahama to turn to President Muhammudu Buhari and President John Magufuli for mentoring and act more swiftly to curb corruption in this country. Action on the cases so far unearthened must be swiift, fair and cover everybody that is indicted, no matter their position in governent or the ruling NDC. THE TIME TO NAME, SHAME AND JAIL IS NOW. ANAS AND TIGER EYE HAVE SHOWN THE WAY. This is the only way to eliminate or at least reduce corruption and impunity in the country. It is time to BREAK THE CORRUPTION CHAIN
Vitus Adaboo Azeem – Executive Director – GII