It takes a great deal of courage for a president to declare war on corruption, not because it is an impossible fight, but more because the declaration of war on corruption comes with the risk of alienating the president from his appointees, and from powerful people who may have contributed in whatever measure to bringing the president into office.
Corruption in public office is an age-long vice that has and continue to erode opportunities for addressing gaps in the provisioning of essential social services, especially in developing countries. Former President Kufour swore zero tolerance for corruption but within months we were being given all the reasons why the pledge was unattainable.
When the late President John Evans Atta Mills took over the reins of government from President Kufour, he also pledged to continue the fight against corruption, but was unimpressive in his efforts.
Both men seemed to have come up against similar challenges of how to deal with recalcitrant appointees.
Former President Kufour started on a good note in his handling of the Mallam Issa case but softened up all too quickly and could not muster the tenacity and will-power to deal in the same manner with Muktar Bamba and Richard Anane. His insistence on the media providing him with evidence before investigating alleged acts of corruption was the final indication that the government was going no where with ‘zero tolerance for corruption’.
President Mills, compared to former President Kufour, started his fight against corruption on a softer note. Many feel Muntaka was left off the hook in spite of his resignation and the directive to repay state funds expended on his girlfriend. Late President Mills argued that, accepting Muntaka’s resignation and ordering him to repay the expenses incurred by the state on his girlfriend’s travel is a demonstration of the will to fight corruption. Though these are indeed corrective measures, they cannot be described as punitive and therefore deterrent.
The appointment of Baba Kamara as Ghana’s High Commissioner to Nigeria in spite of his being cited in the Marbey and Johnson corruption scandal also smacked of poor judgment.
The same charge of ‘poor judgment’ can be ascribed to President Mahama’s decision to appoint Baba Kamara as the National Security Advisor again on account of being cited in the Marbey and Johnson corruption scandal.
Other instance where President Mahama failed to demonstrate his resolve to combat corruption in his government was when the Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Mohammed Murtala Ibrahim, on Tamale-based Diamond FM made allegations of corruption against elements of the Mahama government, who he claimed were scheming to oust him from Parliament.
While there is no doubt that the Deputy Minister’s vituperations smacked of indiscretion and to a large extent, immaturity, it is important to also recognise the opportunity it afforded the President in his fight against corruption. The revelations by Murtala certainly warranted an investigation especially as he gave enough pointers as to who this corrupt official was.
Another instance saw a Deputy Minister for Communications, Ms Vicky Hamah, being shown the exit, when she mentioned in her infamous ‘Vicky leaks’ recordings that her boss, Dr Omane Boamah, who was the substantive Minister for Communication was taking fat bribes and giving her pittance. The corruption allegation by Ms Vicky Hamah was unfortunately swept under the carpet without any attempt by the government to investigate it.
As President Mahama re-commits to combating corruption at the UK Summit, the Public Agenda urges him to reflect on his own failings in the not-too-long distant past.
Source: Public Agenda