Europe’s aerospace multinational Airbus recent shocking news of knowingly paying huge bribes to a few countries, including Ghana, in order to secure contracts during Mills/Mahama administration between 2009 and 2015 has prompted President Akufo-Addo to instruct Special Prosecutor Mr. Martin Amidu to probe into the grave corruption scandal.
Ghana, so to speak, has been losing billions of dollars since the adoption of the Fourth Republican Constitution to the remorseless nation wreckers who take delight in swindling the state to the detriment of the poor and disadvantaged Ghanaians, and yet the methods employed by the successive governments in fighting the apparent canker have been extremely disappointing.
In fact, this article does not intend to grub into the pith of the Airbus corruption case; I will leave it to the Office of the Special Prosecutor.
We would, however, like to urge the Special Prosecutor, as a matter of urgency, to round up and if possible end the political career of the alleged top elected government official one who has been cited in the shameful Airbus corruption scandal.
Readers would bear with me that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to nation-building, and therefore it is expected that corrupt officials will be held accountable at all times without fear or favour.
Corruption, as a matter of fact, and observation, is found in all countries—big and small, rich and poor— but it is in the developing world such as Ghana that its effects are most destructive.
Unfortunately, however, it would appear that in Ghana, the justice system more often than not, descends heavily on goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the remorseless criminals who hide behind the narrow political colorations.
We have, therefore, been hoping somewhat fervently that with the arrival of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the justice system is going to descend heavily not only on the goat, cassava and plantain thieves, but as well as the hardened criminals who hide behind narrow political colorations.
Indeed, it would be great news if the Special Prosecutor managed to nab the shameless racketeers in the Airbus corruption scandal.
In any case, we are most grateful to President Akufo-Addo for promptly tasking the investigators to probe into the Airbus corruption scandal.
Let us face it, President Akufo-Addo’s actions and inactions towards the fight against the canker of corruption cannot be underestimated.
Inasmuch as the well-meaning Ghanaians have every right to bemoan the lack of prosecutions in the alleged bribery and corruption cases, it is unfair for anyone to blame Akufo-Addo and sideline the institutions which have the mandate to investigate and prosecute corruption suspects.
More so, it would only take an inveterate propagandist or a disputatious character to suggest that Akufo-Addo is not doing enough towards the insurmountable battle against corruption, and therefore he is corrupt to high heaven.
How could anyone aim a finger at a man who has created the Office of the Special Prosecutor with the view to combating the corrosive effects of corruption?
How would you accuse someone who can even report his own right-hand men to the investigative body such as the Criminal Investigation Department?
It is unreasonable for anybody to suggest that a politician who can even reject the juicy trappings of a ministerial post can be corrupt.
Believe it or not, the man Akufo-Addo has been in active politics for well over forty years and there hasn’t been a single corruption case against him, either directly or indirectly.
So, why must anybody with a reflective mind think that the septuagenarian president will now indulge in malfeasance?
To be quite honest, it is only the mischievous and the antagonists of Akufo-Addo who would aim accusing fingers when it comes to corruption.
In fact, the appointment of the Special Prosecutor and the subsequent inauguration of the Special Prosecutor’s Board by His Excellency President Akufo-Addo on Thursday 12th July 2018 was a clear manifestation of the president’s unfailing commitment and willingness towards the fight against the corruption menace.
Let us, however, be honest, much as the paradox of exposure is somewhat relevant in the fight against corruption, it is not an isolated tool, it goes hand in hand with the prevention and deterrence.
Thus, the creation of the Office of the Special Prosecutor arguably remains the single most important accomplishment of President Akufo-Addo’s administration so far.
I have always insisted that Westerners are not less corrupt than their African counterparts. However, what makes the people elsewhere much more responsible than a Ghanaian and Africans as a whole is the rigidity of the state institutions and the effective laws and regulations.
It is absolutely true that elsewhere, the laws and regulations are strictly enforced, and as such the vast majority of the citizens and denizens prefer the observance to the stringent fines and the harsh punishments.
It must, however, be emphasized that inasmuch as the followers have a duty of obligation, it is up to the leadership to bring sanity into the system by strictly ensuring that all laws and regulations are enforced without fear or favour.
So to me, the introduction of a Special Prosecutor is a pragmatic way of tackling the rampant bribery and corruption cases head-on.
The fact, however, remains that the benign and somewhat lenient approach towards the fight against the canker of corruption would not curb the widespread sleazes and corruption which have been retrogressing Ghana’s advancement thus far.
How on earth would individuals turn away from their crimes if the only available punishment for stealing the public funds is a mere plea to return the loot?
If we are ever prepared to beseech the fantastically corrupt public officials to only return their loots without any further punishment, we might as well treat the goat, plantain and cassava thieves same. For after all, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
We are, therefore, extremely optimistic that the Special Prosecutor will sternly probe into the shameful Airbus corruption scandal and bring the culprits into the book as soon as possible.
In fact, some of us cannot comprehend how and why the people we choose to entrust with the national coffers could team up with shifty individuals and steal gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation without facing any stiff punishment.
In a grand scheme of things, the prevention and eradication of corruption should be a collaborative effort amongst governments and other interested parties to cooperate with one another with the support and involvement of groups outside the government such as civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations.
If, indeed, the prevention and eradication of corruption is a collaborative venture, why did the previous governments and their Attorney Generals woefully fail to cooperate with other interested parties to investigate, prosecute and retrieve the stolen monies from the impenitent nation wreckers?
“When public money is stolen for private gain, it means fewer resources to build schools, hospitals, roads and water treatment facilities.
“When foreign aid is diverted into private bank accounts, major infrastructure projects come to a halt. Corruption enables fake or substandard medicines to be dumped on the market, and hazardous waste to be dumped in landfill sites and in oceans. The vulnerable suffer first and worst (Ban Ki-moon, 2009).”
Corruption, to be quite honest, impedes economic development by distorting markets and collapsing private sector integrity.
“Corruption also strikes at the heart of democracy by corroding rule of law, democratic institutions and public trust in leaders. For the poor, women and minorities, corruption means even less access to jobs, justice or any fair and equal opportunity” (UNDP 2016).
Corruption is a global phenomenon which requires a collaborative effort to prevent and eradicate.
Disturbingly, in Ghana, in spite of the fact that corruption is a serious economic, social, political and moral impediment to the nation-building, our corrupt officials are bent on siphoning our scarce resources without a second thought.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Ghana’s transgressed and incompliant politicians and other public officials often get away with murder.
But despite the widely held notion that Ghanaian politics is full of extremely corrupt public officials, we have many selfless, morally upright and forward-thinking politicians like His Excellency President Akufo-Addo in our midst.
Truly, despite the unrepentant critics unsubstantiated claims of corruption, some of us are yet to sight, read, or hear a single act of corruption that has ever levelled against President Akufo-Addo.
On the other hand, there are more alleged bribery and corruption scandals hanging on the neck of Ex-President Mahama than any other president in the history of Ghanaian politics.
A typical example of alleged bribery allegation hanging on the neck of former President Mahama is the furtive gift of a brand new Ford Expedition vehicle worth over $100,000 from the Burkinabe Contractor, Djibril Kanazoe.
According to the investigative journalist Manasseh, Djibril Kanazoe had over the years been bidding for contracts in the country. However, he was not successful until a middleman led him to meet then Vice President Mahama.
Subsequent to meeting the then Vice President Mahama, Kanazoe was handpicked to build the $650,000 Ghana Embassy fence wall in Burkina Faso.
The account was, however, given that in September 2014 when officials of the Bank of Ghana met the Public Accounts Committee of Ghana Parliament (PAC), it came to light that an amount of $656, 246.48 had been spent on the construction of a fence wall over a parcel of land belonging to the Ghana Embassy in Burkina Faso.
Apparently, PAC requested the Bank of Ghana to look into what it referred to as: “the outrageous” cost of the project.
However, it came to light that the procurement process was breached to the advantage of President Mahama’s Burkinabe friend.
Amazingly, during an interview with Manasseh, Djibril Kanazoe admitted that he did not put in a bid for the contract, however, the Ghana Embassy in Ouagadougou wrote to his company to request price quotations for the project. He, however, forwarded the necessary quotes and was selected.
“Subsequently, the Burkinabe contractor delivered to President Mahama, the ‘gift’ of a brand new Ford Expedition vehicle in 2012, the same year his company was selected, again through sole-sourcing, to execute more projects” (See: ‘Burkinabe Contractor offers controversial gift to President Mahama.” (myjoyonline.com, 15/06/2015).
Moreover, the then Vice-President Mahama’s dreadful handling of the STX Housing deal which was supposed to provide affordable housing units to the security agencies leaves much to be desired.
It was reported somewhat vividly that although the deal did not materialise, Mahama allegedly gave us a bill of an excess of $300 million.
And, after the failed deal with STX to build 30,000 housing units for the nation’s security agencies, the NDC government entered into another deal with the GUMA Group for the construction of 500 housing units.
The deal which was spearheaded by the then Vice-President Mahama was widely criticised by various stakeholders just as the STX deal, following the decision to side-line local construction firms in favour of the foreign company. The unusually high cost of the project was also a source of concern to many.
Little did some doubtful Ghanaians believe former Attorney General, Mr. Martin Amidu, when he told Ghanaians that our late President Mills set up a committee to investigate then Vice-President John Mahama regarding the processes of the acquisition of five aircraft, including Embraer 190 Aircraft and hanger for the Ghana Armed Forces.
In fact, if we are to mull over Mr. Amidu’s exposition, we can infer that the late Mills lost trust in his then Vice-President Mahama because of the dubious handling of the deal.
Truly, if the late Mills set up a committee to investigate Mahama, then he had a glint of suspicion on his mind. In other words, he felt Mahama was trying to rip off the nation, hence setting up a committee to unravel the furtive deal.
In a way, upon a carefully considered deliberation, reflective thinkers may conclude that the late Mills was not happy with the deal.
And, if that was not the case, why would he set up a committee to investigate Mahama, the architect of the whole deal?
As a matter of fact, the traditional exemption of heads of state from prosecution despite the evidence of a case to answer is wrong, so to speak. For if the bribery and corruption; dubious judgment debt payments; stashing of national funds by some greedy opportunists and misappropriation of resources and crude embezzlement by some politicians do not warrant criminal charges, then where are we heading to as a nation?
The all-important question discerning Ghanaians should be asking is: will the day come when ‘Ghana’s political criminals’ find they have nowhere to hide?
To me, Ghana’s 1992 Constitution has to be reviewed and the irrational and inexpedient clauses such as the indemnity clauses are expunged and tossed into the dustbin accordingly.
How on earth can individuals commit unpardonable crimes (gargantuan sleazes and corruption) against the state and get away with their misdeeds?
How serious are we as a nation when we can only descend heavily on the goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go hard criminals who persistently dip their hands into the national coffers?
In ending, we hope and pray that the Office of the Prosecutor will do a good job by fishing out and prosecuting the conspiratorial plotters in the Airbus corruption scandal.
K. Badu, UK.