In recent times, there has been growing dissatisfaction among many Ghanaians about corruption related issues in the country.
Corruption is pervasive in all sectors of the economy, and people who have been found culpable have gone unpunished, making it possible for it to linger on. We live in a country in which everything is refracted with corruption lenses except, maybe, the air we breathe.
Corruption in Ghana is not a new phenomenon. Since the attainment of independence, governments have been accused of their involvement in corrupt practices. Several investigations have been conducted, but have yielded no dividends. As a result, people perceive it as normal.
I believe there is some level of desire for corruption in every person. Some are able to control it; others do not really care. It is not a Ghanaian thing; neither is it an African canker. But the brazen form it takes here with governments subtly supporting it while rhetorically claiming to be fighting it is what makes our case very appalling.
For instance, in the western countries, like US and UK, the laws of the state work. Public institutions have that independence to work, so even though there are corruption cases, they are dealt with expeditiously.
In Ghana, the tree of corruption lives on because over the years, we have only been pruning the branches.
The more I Iisten to the fight against corruption related issues on TV, radio or online, the more I am persuaded that the anti-graft war has largely failed because its commanders and foot soldiers have concentrated their arsenal on noisily cutting off the branches, not in the uprooting of the tree itself.
If a tree lives, it will always grow its cut off branches back. Our politicians and other public officials seem to be embracing corruption as a priority on the national development agenda instead of offering responsible and accountable leadership.
While a few politically and economically powerful elites benefit inordinately every day from the cancerous environment, millions of Ghanaians suffer agonizingly.
Truth is, corruption is not only at top [politics]. Beyond politics, the Ghanaian culture breeds and embraces corruption. Bees of corruption scandals have stung the face of every nook and cranny of the society. Numerous examples could be cited. However, the focus of this piece is to help cause some change systems.
From the family to the cathedral, we value, practice, condone, and reward cronyism, nepotism, bribery, and corruption. Meritocracy rarely exists in our culture. So, let us not pretend politicians are from Jupiter, Saturn or Uranus. They are a mirror image of our society.
Mr Martin Amidu’s resignation from his position as the then Special Prosecutor on Monday, November 16, 2020 did not come to me as a surprise. It amply demonstrates how the country is retrogressing in its fight against corruption. The progress of our dear nation has often been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.
Recently, a survey conducted by an Afrobarometer study undertaken by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) indicated that the Police scored 65 per cent, which placed it at the top of the table, while the Presidency followed in second position with 55 per cent.
The key findings of the report showed that the perceptions of corruption among public officials and public institutions had increased in 2022, compared to 2019. Among key public officials, the police, the presidency, MPs, judges, magistrates and tax officials are most widely perceived as corrupt.
More than three-fourths, representing 77 per cent of Ghanaians, say the level of corruption in the country increased “somewhat” or “a lot” over the past year, a 24-percentage-point jump, compared to 2019.
Fewer than one-third, constituting 30 percent of Ghanaians, believe that people can report corruption without fear of retaliation, a decline by four percentage points, compared to 2019.
Afrobarometer is a Pan-African, non-partisan, non-profit survey research network that provides reliable data on Africans’ experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance and quality of life. How are these reports sending signal to us so far as the fight against corruption is concerned?
Without a doubt, no one has won the fight against it, including the generals of our military, the commissioners of our police service, the judges of our courts, the speakers of our Parliament and the presidents of our country. The scourge thrives, and it’s unhealthy. Can we nip corruption in the bud?
Corruption has permeated every fibre of our nation’s life. It is gone beyond mere leaders, as, after all, the country does not only constitute leaders. People celebrate riches regardless of its root source; one might see a person struggling to make ends meet become a super-rich man overnight, and everyone will be celebrating his wealth.
He is left unquestioned. In other places, such a person will be under the radar of the law enforcement agencies. He might either be engaging in drugs or being used as a conduit for money laundering.
But here, no sooner than becoming filthy rich like that, he becomes the toast of politicians and chiefs; even academia hurriedly bestow honours on such people.
Ghanaians do not hate corruption. We are only envious of the people practicing the corruption. In Ghana, having convenience correlates positively with corruption.
Most of us are willing to offer huge sums of money for ‘protocol’ and ‘connection’, but we come here shouting ‘corruption’, ‘corruption’, ‘corruption’! The change you so much desire starts with you.
For some people, corruption is just like taking a rare breed of sweet wine whose taste still lingers in the mouth, and makes the tastes buds wanting more.
Almost everyone is willing to pay for what ought not to attract payment. The individual at the point of rendering you a service is not willing to do what she/he is paid to do, unless and until you stretch your hand to drop something or show proof of connections to power.
This has become the norm rather than the exception. Our inability to build a merit-based system will make us perpetual tails and never heads. We need to stop offering bribes for favours; it all constitutes petty corruption! Such is the way to disentangle ourselves from these shackles.
The only pain is that we are not the ones benefiting from it. In truth, it is only fanciful thought as to what our country would have been like if corruption was totally purged from the system, without even a scintilla present.
In point of fact, it would be inhaling and enjoying a breath of fresh, fragrant, redolent air, instead of the rancid ambience we seem stuck in.
Corruption is a major impediment to economic development. It takes away resources from the common pool, and deprives a large population of having an equitable share of the national cake.
The fight against corruption seems not to end because leaders and politicians who are supposed to be anti-corruption crusaders have sacrificed the national interest for their own parochial and selfish gains.
The bane of this country’s development is the unwillingness and inability of the various levels of leadership to lead by example. They are neck deep in corrupt practices.
The onus lies on every Ghanaian to help in winning the fight against corruption, lest we all perish as a nation. Let us imbibe the four-pronged approach: prevention, education, enforcement and a change in our individual mindsets. Cases of corruption are rising, but still Ghana will rise.
The writer is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ). Writer’s email: email@example.com