Legal practitioner, Ace Anan Ankomah, says the country’s fight against corruption will not be won anytime soon considering that Ghanaians have disguised bribes as gifts to justify the canker that has permeated every sector of the nation.
In a Facebook post to demystify the two grey areas, Mr. Ankomah disagreed with those who claim there is little difference between gifts and bribes, arguing that it will take a “new level of thinking and action” to distinguish between the two.
“Respectfully, that is an attempt to deliberately fudge the issue,” he said, and advised Ghanaians to stop hiding behind gifts to either give out or receive bribes.
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GIFTS AND BRIBES – THE DELIBERATE OBFUSCATION
I do not think that the fight against corruption in Ghana will be won soon. It is my respectful view that corruption is so deeply engrained in our national psyche that we have conveniently classified obvious bribes as gifts, to justify our giving and receiving of them. It will take whole new level of thinking and action, to convince us that these are separate concepts.
To bribe a person is to dishonestly persuade (that person) to act in one’s favour by a gift of money or other inducement. A bribe therefore is a sum of money or other inducement offered or given to bribe someone.
As you can see, this definition of “bribe” somehow refers to a “gift”. It therefore shows that there are certain circumstances where what is called a “gift” might be a bribe in its real sense. What’s a gift? It is a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present.
It therefore appears that unless the item is given willingly and without payment (in any form) in return for it, it may not be a gift. Thus, for the giver of a gift to a person in public office, the questions that you should ask yourself are whether you are giving this alleged gift willingly and whether you compelled to give because you have received, or hope to receive, some payment or favour or consideration for the item.
A thing is done willingly if it is done voluntarily, of one’s own free will, accord, or volition. Thus whenever you feel compelled by any fact or reason to give something to another, particularly a person in public office (for example as appreciation for some work that the person has done for you, or in anticipation of some work that the person will do for you in the future, whether directly or indirectly), the critical element of “willingly” disappears, and the nature and character of the item moves from being a gift to a bribe.
In other words, whenever there is a “quid pro quo”, i.e. your alleged gift is in reality a favour or advantage granted in return for something, you have left the realms of gifts and are straying into possible bribery.
Imagine for just the most fleeting period that the intended recipient of the items was not who or what he was. Would you still send him that gift? If the answer is an emphatic “yes”, then go ahead. But if the answer is “no,” or if you have any doubts at all, then it is time to have a reality check – buddy, you pay bribes!
I therefore do not agree with those who say that there is little difference between gifts and bribes. Respectfully, that is an attempt to deliberately fudge the issue. Sir/Madam, stop using the word “gift” as a convenient and rough-and-ready euphemism for the bribes you have been paying and receiving.
Let’s do some real talk: this Christmas, when you draw up the list of people to receive ‘hampers’ from your office, take a little time and do some deep introspection. You just might be…