To Sing Mahama Corruption Chorus Today, After Pizza Demo Fiasco
Pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) Think Tank, IMANI Ghana, will today begin a two-day seminar to rephrase their constant corruption song against John Mahama’s government, through poorly patronized demonstrations and meaningless press statements.
The event, which is being organised with an NPP group calling itself “OccupyGhana”, has no government representation, but a line-up of anti-Mahama elements and known members of the NPP, including Madam Elizabeth Ohene, an ex-Minister of State for Education and Information in the John Kufuor administration.
It was the same group that staged the “Occupy Flagstaff House demonstration in July; heavily attended by members of the NPP, including campaign cash managers of the NPP Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ken Ofori-Atta, Yoofi Grant and Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, Kofi Capito etc.
They were served expensive pizza and iced-Hennessy, chilled Beer, Coca cola, Fanta and other expensive soft drinks, while matching and crying poverty, among Ghanaian middleclass citizens.
Stepping on the IMANI Ghana stage are, Most Reverend Charles Palmer-Buckle, a Ghanaian Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, Pastor Mensa Otabil of the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD).
Other speakers are Manasseh Azure Awuni, Ghana’s Leading Anti-Corruption Journalist and 2012 Ghana Journalist of the Year, an Assistant Professor at the Ashesi University, Dr. Esi Ansah; Lawyer Ace Kojo Ankomah, who is a Managing Partner at Ghana’s largest law firm, Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah (BEL&A).
A statement sent to The Herald by Franklin Cudjoe, mentioned him and the former Marketing Manager for Guinness Ghana Limited (GGL) and MTN Ghana, George Andah, as the organizers of the event. Interestingly, George Andah, has been a friend of President Mahama, who has been of tremendous assistance to him in the past, whilst serving as Vice- President.
Ex-Joy FM Super Morning Show host, Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, who is eyeing a Parliamentary seat in the Koforidua area in the Eastern Region on the ticket of the NPP, is mentioned as the moderator of the event to be staged at the Christ the King Parish Hall, Switchback Road-Accra, near the seat of government, Flagstaff House.
The IMANI statement quoted Elizabeth Ohene as saying, “When a classroom block that is known to cost GH¢ 200,000 to build, is given out on contract for GH¢ 800,000, the name of the game is stealing; or if you want a fancy name, you might employ fraud. The engineers and quantity surveyors who pad up the numbers to get to GH¢ 800,000 are engaged in fraud, and they should be treated as such.”
The seminar is under the theme, “#Occupycorruptionghana for National Development– Saving Our Nation”.
According to the statement, “Ghana has been plagued with weak institutions since independence. In the decades that have followed, the country’s leadership has ‘danced around the monster in the room,’ simply to secure personal interests at the expense of the taxpayer. Keeping the institutions weak and inefficient has served as a convenient incentive for corruption”.
It went on, “Whiles corruption is usually seen in the form of bribery. These days rather, sadly after 22 years of undisturbed democracy, corruption appears to have given way to more and more naked theft of state funds. Theft is defined as the taking of a property that does not belong to you without the consent or permission of its owner or custodian with the intention of depriving the rightful owner(s) of it permanently”.
According to IMANI, “In the past few years, thievery of state funds, whether in the form of inflated cost of projects or payment for no work done, has witnessed an unprecedented surge and spike. As the incidents of stealing of state funds hike, the country’s economy takes a plunge”.
“The country’s massive expenditure and accrued debt have not been development-driven nor yielded any visible results or foreseeable future gains. That monster in the room, no doubt, is theft clouded in corruption. It occurs in various forms, one being the abuse of the deliberately-weakened institutions or deliberately-created gaps in the legal framework to both carry out unchecked expenditures and engage in flagrant flouting of the law, for personal gain. In a nutshell, government expenditure is not delivering value for money and has significantly impeded Ghana’s development”.
It added that “…importantly, the weakness of the institutions and associated corruption have weakened confidence in the country’s economy and democracy, which has had a negative impact on economic activities. Ghana’s fiscal deficit stands at GhC10bn.
Government continues to spend more than it can afford; yet critical services such as health and education are not receiving their statutory funding. We need to confront thievery and corruption in Ghana’s Public Institutions even us we consider options for reversing the responsibility on accountability as concerned citizens”.
“OccupyGhana” was identified as “a social and political non-partisan pressure group with the vision of engaging
Ghanaians in development process and ensuring good and responsible governance. We are passionately committed to ensuring that Ghana develops to its full economic potential and remains a strong democracy”.
IMANI claim to have its mission as “…simply subjecting any government policy that is likely to have systematic implications for development to basic ‘value for money’, ‘due diligence’ and ‘rational choice’, ‘public choice’ and ‘vested interest’ analysis and then actively engage in public advocacy to publicize the results, with a view to promoting peace and prosperity through human flourishing”.
The statement said, the seminar would seek to know whether public interest litigation is needed, because the courts are handicapped until these cases are brought forth” as forcing “the Auditor-General to act on the Constitutionally granted powers to enforce fiscal discipline and also to test the law.
The statement raised questions such as, “How much citizen participation should we encourage in fighting these battles” and “Can we encourage citizen participation e.g. via texting of corrupt cases they see and hear about?
“What about encouraging telecoms to create dedicated short codes, as part of corporate social responsibility to text in ‘poor’ cases of bribery and corruption of public services and servants and also of ‘good and exemplary’ agencies and officials?, will also be discussed.
“Should we not promote policies aimed at reducing economic intervention that promote corruption? vii. Why can’t we decentralise the management of power and resources in Ghana? viii. Could full decentralisation, as opposed to social intervention programs such as school feeding and fuel subsidies, be a means to equalise access to welfare and reduce corruption? ix. Should we not review anti-corruption laws and examine which departments/ministries and agencies are awarding contracts in accordance with the law?
The profiles of the speakers were given as follows:
• PASTOR MENSA OTABIL – is a respected Christian statesman: a well-tested pastor, an educator, an entrepreneur, and a motivational speaker. He founded International Central Gospel Church and oversees the multi-faceted network of ministries of the International Central Gospel Church worldwide.
• MANASSEH AZURE AWUNI, Ghana’s Leading Anti-Corruption Journalist and 2012 Ghana Journalist of the Year
• DR. ESI ANSAH is an Assistant Professor at the Ashesi University in Ghana teaching Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Development. She is also a founding partner of Axis Human Resource Development Group, a socially-conscious HR consultancy based in Ghana and Executive Director of the Paul A. V. Ansah Memorial Foundation.
LAWYER ACE KOJO ANKOMAH is Managing Partner of Ghana’s largest Law firm, Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah (BEL&A). Ace Ankomah is head of the litigation team at (BEL&A) and one of Ghana’s leading legal lights.
MOST REVEREND CHARLES PALMER-BUCKLE is a Ghanaian Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, a former teacher and a key figure in the political scene in Ghana. He is the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra and is the second Ghanaian native to become Archbishop of Accra. Installed in 2005, he became the 4th Ordinary for Accra since its establishment as a diocese. He was also the first Bishop of Koforidua.
MADAM ELIZABETH OHENE- former Minister of State for Education, former BBC Anchor. At BBC, she was a Producer of Radio Programmes, and then successively became a Presenter, Senior Producer on World Service and British Domestic Radio, Researcher and Columnist on the Focus on African Magazine and Deputy Editor in the African Service for English Daily Programmes, and in charge of the operational budget.
PROFESSOR H. KWASI PREMPEH- Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law, Newark, New Jersey for the past 10 years. He is a Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, one time a Visiting Professor at the newly established law school at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). Kwasi has written and consulted extensively on issues of constitutionalism, governance, legal policy, and democracy in Ghana and the rest of Africa. Kwasi was the Director of Legal Policy and Governance of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD) and he continues to serve on the Board of Directors of CDD. Kwasi is also a board member of Ashesi University College, a leading private University in Ghana.