“When the PAP government took office in 1959, we set out to have a clean administration. We had deep sense of mission to establish a clean and effective government. We were sickened by the greed, corruption and decadence of many Asian leaders. Fighters for freedom for their oppressed peoples had become plunderers of wealth. Their societies slid backward. Human ingenuity is infinite when translating power and discretion into personal gain. Law and order provide framework for stability and development. So, from the very beginning we gave special attention to the areas where discretionary powers had been exploited for personal gain and sharpened the instruments that could prevent, detect, or deter such practices. It is easy to start off with high moral standards, strong convictions, and determination to beat down corruption. But it is difficult to live up to these good intentions unless the leaders are strong and determined enough to deal with all transgressors, and without exceptions. We cannot afford to forget that public order, personal security, economic and social progress, and prosperity are not the natural order of things, that they depend on ceaseless effort and attention from an honest and effective government that the people must elect”.
–Lee Kuan Yew
Since coming into office, the Akufo Addo NPP administration spoken to the nation about its determination to fight corruption, one of the single most terminal ailment afflicting the nation. Why should we believe that the bright light we perceive at the end of the tunnel is coming from a star and not a broken piece of a meteorite? After all every government we have had since independence has claimed to fight corruption. Kwame Nkrumah made the dawn broadcast only to oversee corrupt financial rascal behaviours on the part of his appointees. Kutu Acheampong despite his apparent initial good intentions ended up creating the greatest mass corruption machinery the country ever witnessed up to his time in office: “kalabule” and “gyinabu”. J. J. Rawlings, self-proclaimed apostle of probity and accountability, despite all the populisms he engendered in the form of “holy war” supplanted by mass murder (eight military officers were lined up and shot dead without any semblance of judicial trial in addition to many summary executions carried out in the style of President Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines) created the largest criminal looting gang of the nation’s assets this country has ever witnessed. In the end, he himself coined out many despicable names to describe the members of the Frankenstein monster he callously created to rape the nation’s virginity.
Names like greedy bastards, old evil dwarfs, babies with sharp teeth, leeches, liars, criminals were bundled around as some of the apt description he coined to describe his despicable disciples turned accomplished thieving and looting apostles. At the end of the day, he himself did not escape the tongue lashing of his criminal benefactors and was described by them as “a mad dog who has been chained” and derided as “an Ewe tribalist who promoted his tribesmen at the expense of people from the Savana Region”. J. A Kufuor declared zero tolerance for corruption. However the closest he got to fighting corruption was the creation of an Office of Accountability at the Castle, a nebulous body, which only added to the state bureaucracy and provided employment for some party faithful. In the end, hardly any single case of corruption was reported, except for the case of a daft Sports Minister. John Fiifi Atta-Mills installed a colourless political leadership despite his own claim to deal with corruption which allowed corruption to thrive among his party men and their accomplices. Not a single instruction on anti-corruption of his was obeyed or carried out.
John Dramani Mahama created a frenzy of corrupt activities which demonstrated that the entire members of the NDC apparatchik were fighting for the last position in heaven when it came to illegally competing for the spoils of the nation. Never in the annals of this county has a government machinery purposely installed to provide opportunity for the operators and the people in entrusted position and their cronies and family members and associates to loot and share the nation’s wealth and resource among themselves with impunity, great alacrity and immense pride. In this country, the Seat of Government has always been the centre of gravity which provided the centrifugal force for corruption to thrive. John Dramani Mahama NDC administration gave true meaning to this axiom and gave a religious seal to corruption never ever experienced in this country.
In providing a spatial mapping of corruption as has engulfed this nation since independence, I deliberately left out the three bridging political administrations of the National Liberation Council (NLC), the Progress Party (PP) and the Peoples National Party (PNP). While the NLC had a defined mission to accomplish, once that was done, to its credit, it left the scene while the ovation was still loud. Both the PP and PNP were denied their rightful birthright by armed brigands who saw themselves as “self-imposed angels” and felt that they had the inalienable and divine right to remove political administrations which they branded as consisting of “elected devils”. Akufo Addo’s NPP is also not mentioned since there is no basis for an intelligent assessment.
However, if indeed the Akufo Addo NPP administration is desirous and serious in fighting corruption and avoid the failure paths of its predecessors, then it must bear some simple truths in mind. First the administration must constantly repeat the following words by Lew Kuan Yew quoted above like a primary school rhyme: “Human ingenuity is infinite when translating power and discretion into personal gain. We cannot afford to forget that public order, personal security, economic and social progress, and prosperity are not the natural order of things that they depend on ceaseless effort and attention from an honest and effective government that the people must elect”.
What Lee Kwan Yew was telling us was that criminals are found everywhere and must be haunted down. They belong to all political, religious, social, educational, intellectual, public, private, tribal, underprivileged groups or what have you. I dare say that if one should go through with a fine tooth comb the current appointees of the Akufo Addo NPP administration, there are likely to be some criminal elements lurking around the corner. The way and manner many people have turned the seat of government into pilgrimage ground with their polished and not so polished CVs and shining as well as dubious investment proposals and the way and manner some appointees at the Jubilee House are competing with each other issuing appointment letters, do not augur well for the nation as criminals are bound to slip through in getting appointed to positions of high exultation.
By Kwame Gyasi