|Professor Kwesi Yankah|
Professor Kwesi Yankah, the president of Central University College, has stated that the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has lost the fight against corruption.
According to the linguistics professor, the spate of corruption had become a security issue and government needed greater determination to fight the menace.
“Over time, despite a slight decrease from 2012 to 2014, the proportion of Ghanaians who think their leaders are involved in corruption has witnessed remarkable percentage-point increases – up to a 36-percent gain in the negative assessment of the President and officials in his office,” he said.
Prof Yankah was speaking at a corruption conference organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a policy think-tank, in Accra yesterday under the theme, “Purging the nation of corruption: demanding accountability from public institutions.”
“But why would the presidency in Ghana be so unfavorably positioned in such perceptions of corruption?” he asked.
That, he said, was because “in other dispensations, that alarming perception verdict would have been grounds for a plethora of emergency meetings by Councils of State, and other advisory bodies and institutions constitutionally-mandated to promote public morality and probity – for the fish apparently rotten from the head, is likely to infect the rest of the body politic.”
Take the blame
He said when public appointees are cited for embezzlement and corruption and no machinery is set in motion for investigation, prosecution, or indictment, the President should be prepared to take the final blame, since he (President) wields so much constitutional power to act.
Prof Yankah, who is also a former Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, said the public perceived the presidency to be corrupt because “the presidency is perceived to have become a comfortable refuge for officials suspected to have been involved in corruption and are under investigation.
“The transfer or promotion of bad nuts to the presidency, rather than their demotion or indictment, tends to defile the dignity of the presidency and taints its image,” he explained.
He said the government “squandered or lost opportunities to prosecute presidential appointees suspected of embezzling public funds, but who have been merely transferred to other portfolios, as if with the aim of enabling a quicker spread of the virus.”
He observed that the shelving in the presidency of several reports on probes and investigations, in which public appointees had been fingered for corruption, embezzlement and procurement deals, was “counter-intuitive.”
“I need not cite here the long list of items currently in the corruption headlines, where mega culprits appear to be walking scot free. Neither do I need to cite specific examples in past and present regimes, where insiders, including the Chairman of a party, have alleged corruption on the part of their own presidents,” he stated.
He questioned the commitment of anti-corruption campaigners in government in the corruption fight and specifically mentioned former Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) boss Daniel Batidam, who he said had failed woefully.
He said the posture of such persons in the corruption fight left much to be desired.
Prof Yankah also questioned the propriety of spending $1.8 million on luxury cars only for the country to grope in darkness a few years later, saying, “we can’t foolishly” spend $1.8 million of a budget meant to extend electricity into rural areas on luxury vehicles, only to have children study in the dark because there was load shedding.
He advocated the need for “more action and lesser exhortation, indeed fewer excuses in the rhetoric of probity and accountability.
“Let presidents and leaders in general simply take initiatives submitting themselves and their offices to probity and accountability before expecting any national compliance, since the buck stops with the Leader.”
He said “responses like ‘corruption is as old as Adam,’ ‘Provide evidence that I am corrupt,’ as well as ‘I cannot fight corruption alone,’ uttered by past and present presidents are signs of weak leadership.”
Representatives of key institutions – including, Parliament, the judiciary, government, police, civil society groups, faith-based organisations – came together to brainstorm on the issue.
Some of the eminent personalities who attended the conference were former CHRAJ Commissioner Justice Emile Short, former GBA President Sam Okudzeto, CPP Chair Samia Nkrumah, NDC General Secretary, Asiedu Nketia, Archbishop Palmer Buckle, Ahmed Ramadan, Albert Kan Dapaah, Obed Yao Asamoah, and Brig Gen Nunoo-Mensah among others.