Corruption! Corruption! Corruption!

“All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Lord Acton

SOME AUTHORS will use multiple exclamation marks, but, let me ask: how many exclamation marks should go with the words of a drowning man, shouting ‘help!’ or ‘help!!’ or ‘help!!!!!.’ Some of us choose to be simple and do not regret being sticklers to rules of grammar but will not go the way of Eric Terry Prachett to say: “Multiple exclamation marks are a sure sign of a diseased mind.” OR that of a Maskerade who says: “And all those exclamation marks, you notice? Five? A sure sign of someone who wears his underpants on his head.”

Corruption! What kind of animal is it? Don’t bother your head with definitions, But the corrupt person is the one who has been caught – receiving, undeserved favour on the sly.  The Eleventh Commandment says: “Thou shalt not get caught.”

Perhaps you may have read Jeffrey Archer’s novel: “Thou Shalt Not Get Caught” published in 1998 in which Helen Dextor, Chief of CIA orders for the murder of political figures of other nations – those who spew hatred against America. She plans for the execution of a candidate for the Colombian Presidency. Her chief assassin, Connor Fitzgerald, does not get caught while planning to assassinate a candidate for the Russian Presidency. What do the Ten Commandments which Moses collected from Mt. Sinai from God say? Don’t pretend. You may have forgotten them since you did your O-level Religion about fifty years ago: Thou shalt have no other gods besides me; thou shalt not make thyself an idol; thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of God; Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy; thou shalt honour thy father and mother; thou shalt not murder; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour. There are a few other extenuations, but these will do for now.

How many exclamation marks shall we give ‘corruption’ when we talk about it in the immediate past regime. For the Corruption Perception Index, Daily Guide thinks: “Jumping on a corruption index report to describe government as following on the heels of its predecessor is not only unfair but mischievous, especially in the manner in which some biased groupings and even personalities have trumpeted it”. You remember Dzifa Attivor, that beautiful lady with an aquiline nose and a buxom torso? She advised her constituents: “NPP is a tribal party bent on prosecuting only Ewes if it wins the general election in December (2016)”. It was “Ketu South for Fiifi and Mahama.” Of course, the courts in the NPP regime had prosecuted Victor Selormey, Dan Abodakpi and Tsatsu Tsikata – all Ewes. But some of us didn’t know that Kwame Peprah, Ibrahim Adam and George Sipa Yankey were also Ewes. Does the statement smack of ethnocentrism or tribalism? Dzifa was emphatic that a vote for NPP would mean signing her jail warrant over the GH¢3.6m bus branding saga.

Defrauding by false pretences, conspiracy and willfully causing financial loss to the state are all offences in our statutes. So that hapless Justice Afia Serwaa Asare – Botwe had a sour job to do. She had to swallow the bitter pill – to sentence Abuga Pele, the GYEEDA National Coordinator and Philip Assibit, a private businessman to 6 and 12 years respectively in a trial that had been cooked in the NDC regime. Philip Assibit had allegedly secured a phantom $65 million facility from the World Bank, and had received a clean bill of health from Abuga for a neat GH¢4 million paid up-front. It was for a Youth Enterprise Development Programme. No work done. The training of the youth for bicycle riding in the north was a hoax, because over there at age 2, the toddlers know how to ride bicycles.

You may have great respect for Rashid Pelpuo. He sympathized with Abuga and lamely touched on the sentence as a ‘very harsh one’. Mahama Ayariga, the Bawku MP expected the judge to give Abuga a more lenient sentence, Inusah Fuseini spoke as a veritable lawyer, and stated that Abuga “was not a victim of circumstances”.

But Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuye spoke as a true friend of Abuga and Assibit: “It is unfortunate but I can say this will not dampen the spirit of the NDC. Between 2001 and 2004, they sentenced Tsatsu Tsikata, Dan Abodakpi, Ibrahim Adam and Kwame Peprah. It did not stop us from winning elections in 2008. We are going to win the elections in (2020) and bring Abuga Pele out.” That was at the Unity Walk in the Eastern Region, Somanya, to be specific. For Nii Lante Vanderpuye, it was comradeship in tears. He could have said with Shakespeare: “O, I have suffered with those that I saw suffer.”

The wily former president and founder of the NDC, J.J. Rawlings, must have remembered the people his regime shot dead during the heady days of the so-called ‘Revolution’, for embezzlement and could have been kinder to Nii Lante. He said: “If the quest for political power is to release wrong-doers from prison, then the NDC is laying its own foundation to remain in opposition for a long, long time.” Oh, Founder! Only one exclamation mark!

Asiedu Nketia, speaking for the party stated: “… an unfortunate impression had been created by the Honourable Member (Nii Lante Vanderpuye) that the NDC will release Honourable Abuga Pele, the convicted Member of Parliament for Chiana-Paga from prison if the party succeeded in capturing power in 2020… the statement does not reflect in any remotest sense the position of the party regarding the fight against corruption in the country… the investigation and prosecution of Honourable Abuga Pele was initiated by the NDC… It will, therefore, be absurd that after a successful conviction has been achieved in this particular case, the initiator will turn around to free any person who has been convicted as a result…” Fine statement, if it has ended on that premise, instead of delving into transcendental arguments.

But, as predictable as Asiedu Nketia’s statements, he admonished the Nana Akufo Addo-led government to emulate this shining example of the Mahama administration, and muster enough courage to bring members of his government who have been accused of corrupt practices to justice instead of praising them and misleading Ghanaians that all his ministers and appointees are clean.” Like the ordure or faeces or poop of a lizard, there is black and at the tip it is white – the white being urine that has been concentrated into a chalky chunk, usually referred to as urates.

Nana Addo has expressed his determination to “fight corruption aggressively”, and at the Evening Encounter at the I.E.A., he had stated: “… I am not corrupt, have never been corrupt, and will demand the same of my team.” Whoever thinks Nana Addo is being flippant or whimsical should wait and see when the Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, begins to bite. While Woyome’s legs should be wobbly, Nana’s team should get theirs taut. As noted by Winston Churchill: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference,” and Nana’s team should be very good students.

Africanus Owusu-Ansah