Project Ghana has been hijacked. It is now clear that rather than using the nation’s socio-cultural structure as an entry point to building radical systems, as the proponents and contributors of our independence intended, our elites are using it as a tool to advance their own narrow interests.
Elite capture is a form of corruption that describes how the most advantaged people in a group take control of benefits that are meant for everybody -as, for example, how a leader might use donor-aid money to line his own pockets.
In 2019, a former boss of Public Procurement Authority(PPA), Adjenim Boateng Adjei was busted in a “Contracts for Sale” investigative documentary for forming a company with his brother-in-law after his appointment as the CEO of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA). The company won a number of government contracts through the restrictive tendering method even though they had no capacity to execute the contracts. It then sold the contracts to individuals and companies without the knowledge or approval of the awarding entities. Further investigations by CHRAJ and the Special Prosecutor’s office revealed that from Mr. Adjei had GH¢15,691,559.30, USD4,467,655 and €54,500 deposited into his three bank accounts during the time he stayed in office.
Such cases abound in the country. There are currently debates on an Agyapa deal, and the declassification of Achimota Forest with portions of the forest land willed to a nephew of the late former Boss of Forestry commission. Just recently were discussions on Kelni- GVG, Kroll & Associates, PDS, Trade Fair LTD,etc. The underlying concerns that characterise these discussions and scandals are efforts by political office holders, their friends and family to loot the country’s coffers. Truth is, most of these deals are a rebrand of broad day robbery with the assistance of technocrats taking advantage of loopholes in the flawed constitution.
Some Underlying Social factors
From daily engagements, it is clear many Ghanaians have a flawed perception of political leadership under democratic governance. This may partly stem from exposure to traditional leadership and military regimes. However, leadership in democratic governance cannot be equated to these above systems. Their distinguishing features are visible. Whereas traditional leadership and military juntas may embody power because they are/were believed to be “gods” over their people, democratic governance requires power be placed with the people. It is based on such distinguishing features that constitutions are made to enhance this power under democratic governance. However, the framers of Ghana’s constitution informed by our history, attitudes, proclivities and tendencies made a contradiction by granting the president and in some cases ministers the discretion to exercise power through a host of statutes to determine matters placed under their statutory responsibility when they’re personally pleased as to the need for their actions. These statutes provide a perfect cover under law for any president and his ministers to do as it pleases them and avoid accountability, whether in the interest of the people or not. Director for CDD-Ghana, Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh in a Facebook post few days ago argued that the biggest obstacle in protecting public resources lies in the country’s statutes/Acts of Parliament.
Ghana’s class system which predates independence has most public sector workers at the peak and middle because of benefits associated with their positions- free accommodation, free cars, free medical care, free trips to abroad, fat allowances which are all provided by the taxpayer. This culture has promoted people taking up positions with no intent of bringing any difference to bear on their works but the perks they come with. It has become a mentality generally accepted by the populace as normal.
There currently exists no moral compass in the country. The only deity worshiped in Ghana is MONEY. It is therefore not surprising that the country is the most expensive in Africa. Religious organizations, media, Bar association, Trade, Labour and Student Unions, etc are originally to serve as gatekeepers for nations and keep authorities on the track of national development. Unfortunately in the case of Ghana, these institutions have been infiltrated by the current generation of corrupt elites who mainly serve as mouthpieces for people with power.
Suggestions on The Way Forward
The biggest lesson from Ghana’s governance history, perhaps to me will be the inability of occasional change of constitution and leadership to drive the much needed development the masses desire. What therefore is important it to challenge the roots of the menace which will be coming together to push for reforms that limits presidential powers.
There must be a deliberate effort to cure the values and standards passed down to the generation by the colonialists and consolidated by the post- colonial state and its leaders. Progressives in leadership must take bold steps in revolutionizing our values. The current society must be intentionally unrooted and replanted through avenues like synchronizing our education, legal, media, unions structures for our country’s developmental goals.
Progressives lastly , both in leadership and the rank-and-file must be more aware and strategic in working to achieve a better Ghana. It is necessary to recognize and appreciate the talent and intent of others before aligning with them. In such cases, people who share values and possess diverse skills will be be brought together for the common goal of our different. Whereas leeches who align themselves with such causes to achieve individual interests will be cut out.
Yaw Nsiah Street