Listen to this Article Now
By Alexander Nyarko Yeboah
Tema Nov 23, gitficonline—Just as Ghanaians were wondering what to make of the sudden passing of Former President Rawlings, another wonder hit the nation in the most bizarre of circumstances, which has succeeded in taking over discussions on almost all media outlets in Ghana. It was the resignation of the man who called himself a Citizen Vigilante and one whose attempt to fight corruption was given a boost by the Akufo-Addo government when he was appointed as the first Special Prosecutor in Ghana.
In as much as the man has explained the reasons behind his resignation and the president of Ghana has also offered explanations to counter Amidu’s accusations, there still exists many unanswered questions which, when addressed, would help in the whole fight against corruption in Ghana.
It is obvious that corruption is an issue in Ghana with governments, past and present, faced with the challenge of eradicating this canker in all spheres of national life, including corruption within government. This fight, no doubt needs an attitude which perhaps the resignation of Mr. Amidu brings to bear.
I have always been of the opinion that no single individual, not even the president, could fight corruption, and that corruption is best fought when institutional frameworks are put in place to prevent its occurrence. And so, it is clear that a lot of issues, particularly with the Ghanaian constitution, set the precedence for corruption.
Why, for instance, would Ghanaians accept a constitution that says more than half of ministers of state should come from parliament? This, the framers of the constitution called it a hybrid system which blended the American and British systems of government. In the American system, all ministers are picked from persons who are not parliamentarians whilst Britain has all ministers as members of parliament. Why blend the two systems; why copy blindly?
It is certain, that, in blending the two systems, we have rather created a monster that cannot be controlled. This is because parliamentarians are not free to police the system because they are constantly tied to their governments in an attempt to initiate bills and also go to parliament to pass those bills into law, which all together questions the independence of parliament.
In this regard, the kind of control parliament should have had on the executive is missing because those parliamentarians who could oppose wrongful moves of government are in the minority and could actually do nothing.
In that regard, one could say that if the highest level of representation of the people is compromised in such a manner, it would automatically translate into other segments of national life. We seem, therefore, to have created a democratic system in which the president wields too much power, and then we turn round to fault them when they use such powers.
For example, in some jurisdictions, the chief justice, attorney general, head of police and armed forces, etc. are not directly appointed by the president, and therefore hold allegiance to the state instead of the government. In this system, the presidency is held in check in some of the things it does, being mindful of the fact that other state organs equally had right to functions, and should the presidency fault, the full weight of the state would come to bear on whoever occupies the seat.
This perhaps is what could solve corruption in Ghana, not just the appointment of a special prosecutor. This is because, not necessarily typical of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, as has been accused by Mr. Amidu, most governments, past, present and future, have so much powers to interfere in the activities of a state official, in this case the special prosecutor if they want, because the 1992 constitution gives them the power so to do.
As former President Barack Obama said in his address to the Ghanaian Parliament in 2009, what Ghanaians need is not strong men, but strong institutions which have the institutional will and capacity to protect the state when the need arises. As it is, it looks like everybody has ignored Obama’s statement even when it addresses the very foundation of why corruption is endemic in the Ghanaian socio-political life.
The Ghanaian constitution has created strong men and women who wield excessively strong powers which control all the various organs of the state, and trust me, anybody who wields such powers would be tempted to use it. If we are to continue in such a compromised democratic system, then we must culture a certain maturity that makes holders of public office to self-censor their actions, looking at the collective interest of the Ghanaian people, and it looks like we are not there yet.
Such enormous powers of the presidency is replicated in all spheres of national life. And so, subordinates of heads of other institutions cannot serve as checks on their superiors, which means that, even if corrupt practices are going on, subordinates could only look on in order to avoid being victimized. For instance, it is possible for a second-in-command of a military mission to question the actions of the commanding officer if he or she deems such actions as wrong, but can that easily happen in any state institution in Ghana?
The situation is pathetic, because, down to other levels of national life, a teacher in a secondary school cannot question the actions of a head master and get away with it. The next thing one realizes is that such a person’s promotion may delay, he or she may be transferred unnecessarily or persecuted whilst still at post.
And so Mr. Martin Amidu should have known, that, if he had any fight against corruption, it should not be targeted at functionaries of his former political party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) or the current NPP government; his fight should target the constitution itself and ensure that certain powers are removed from certain individuals so offices like the special prosecutor could function effectively.
If what Mr. Amidu is saying is anything to go by, it means that perhaps the President of Ghana would appoint a compromised person to fill the void Amidu has left behind, and then there would be no problem, because such a person would definitely dance to the tune of the government.
It clearly shows that there is no independence anywhere and that sets a bad precedence for the fight against corruption.
If Ghana is to win the battle against corruption such that our resources would not end up in the hands of some select few, Ghanaians must begin to look at the possibility of amending the 1992 constitution, such that the invincibility and overwhelming powers giving to certain appointed and elected leaders in the nation are taking off. Otherwise, no rational Ghanaian would be willing to join the battle against corruption, knowing very well that such a battle could only endanger his or her life whilst the very corrupt practices they are fighting continues.
It is sad that corruption still exist in every sphere of national life, and that everybody who finds himself in any office of opportunity wants to maximize the benefits of the office to him or herself. This would stop when Ghanaians hold the bull by the horn and understand that they have built a system which gives too much powers to certain individuals which facilitates the creation of corrupt leaders in the nation.
It is time to stay true to the principle of accountability and that can only happen when those who are to ensure accountability are free to do so.