Since Ghana’s independence in 1957, the battle against corruption has been waged on many fronts and with many clarion calls, but victory appears elusive.
Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia, in the Second Republic, cautioned all: “Don’t accept gifts; it corrupts.” Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings, after his first successful military coup in 1979, responded to an anti-corruption clarion call: “Let the blood flow,” and executed six army generals. and President John Agyekum Kufuor, in the Fourth Republic, also declared “Zero tolerance for corruption.”
In spite of these actions, which are bolstered by the tendency for every government to accuse its predecessor of corruption, it still remains defiant and repugnant.
One of the challenges is the failure of governments to prosecute their own, particularly prominent officials of corruption, sweeping such cases under the carpet until a new government takes office to clean the house.
Now, there is another clarion call by the people on the new administration to deal with corruption decisively — by investigating and punishing culpable officials.
In a survey conducted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in March 2017, gauging public opinion on how to fight corruption, 43 per cent of the respondents wanted the government to investigate and punish corrupt officials.
One of the potent weapons Ghanaians had demanded in the fight against corruption, which was amplified by 35.5 per cent of respondents in the IEA survey, was the appointment of an independent prosecutor to deal with the nagging canker.
It is very refreshing to note that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo responded to the call a few months ago with the appointment of former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Martin Amidu, as the Special Prosecutor.
Although the Office of the Special Prosecutor is yet to drag anybody to court on corruption charges, the mere creation of the office and appointment of anti-corruption crusader Amidu has inspired a lot of confidence in many a Ghanaian that, perhaps, the fight against corruption is never a lost battle.
However, the mere appointment of a special prosecutor may not be the antidote to corruption. That is why it is important to adopt a multi-pronged strategy, including strict enforcement of laws on corruption, to deal with the canker.
The call by 21.6 per cent of respondents in the IEA survey, on the government to endeavour to enforce laws on corruption is, therefore, in the right direction.
Ghana beyond corruption
It is very clear that the citizenry are fed up with corruption and it is also obvious they want the government to be more committed to the fight against it.
Inasmuch as the appointment of the special prosecutor to deal with corruption is most refreshing, the government must strengthen the human and institutional capacity required to wage the war against corruption successfully.
In this respect, there is the need for strict enforcement of the law without fear or favour. Also, enforcing the law without affection or ill will would be very crucial to winning the fight against corruption.
Corruption is killing the nation and we must act now to kill it!