President John Mahama is joining other world leaders invited by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron to attend an anti-corruption summit.
The major international event, organized by the UK Government kick starts on Thursday, May 12, 2016. It is expected to develop a road map in the fight against corruption, electoral fraud, and abuse of incumbency around the world.
The summit comes just two weeks after the infamous Panama papers thrust offshore secrecy and corruption into the international limelight and for some people the summit will perfectly represent a historic opportunity to tackle crime, poverty and instability at the source.
President Mahama said before leaving Accra that “the London Summit provides an opportunity to demonstrate once again the measures we have been adopting to strengthen our fight against corruption, combat money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism.”
A statement issued by the Presidency said that the summit is taking place at a time President Mahama has been traveling across the country in furtherance of his transparency agenda to account to the people. This it said is important in moving forward Ghana’s anti-corruption agenda as contained in the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (2015-2024) and commitments under the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
But as expected, his critics would have wished he was not invited. Even before his arrival NPP activists were busy planning to stage protests against what they see as lack commitment to fighting the age old canker.
At the beginning of this week the party led by its running mate Dr Mahamudu Bawumia tried to muddy the waters with a misleading statement that $250m had been diverted from proceeds of the one billion dollar Eurobond into a secret private account. Finance Minister, Seth Tekper had to react swiftly to correct the falsehood.
Fortunately, the international community do not solely rely on mere allegations. They have their own mechanism of assessing the impact of government initiatives. UK for example today recognizes Nigeria and Afghanistan as the most corrupt countries in the world. Prime Minister David Cameron inadvertently disclosed this in a remark with Queen Elizabeth II and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at an event at Buckingham Palace.
The January 2016 report by anti-graft agency, Transparency International shows Ghana has improved slightly in the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The 2015 CPI ranked Ghana as 7th best in the fight against corruption in Africa.
Some may still be reminded about some scandals like what has become known as Woyome, GYEDA, SUBA, SADA, the bus branding saga etc which have become albatross around the neck of the Mahama Administration. Notwithstanding, there is verifiable evidence of commitment to fight the canker within and without.
In his 2016 address to Parliament, he said “We have tackled corruption with determination and fortitude in an effort to stamp out systemic indiscipline in the fabric of public and social service. We have refused to bury our heads in the sand like the ostrich or to adopt a defensive posture”.
The address went on further to state, “there is a political risk any Government runs in facing up to corruption and fighting it- the paradox of exposure – where an open, transparent approach to fighting corruption leads to an erroneous impression that corruption is more pervasive and prevalent at a certain point”.
President Mahama disclosed initiatives including the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) and the inauguration of a High Level Implementation Committee, the institution of a National Integrity Awards Programme to motivate honest people.
He personally ordered the BNI investigations into operations at the National Service Secretariat which exposed massive corruption. Over 30 million cedis has been retrieved, 163 personnel of the scheme dismissed, 33 officials including the former Executive Director and his deputy have also been arraigned before court while about another 130 others are yet to be prosecuted.
RLG has paid monies it was ordered to refund while Smarttys implicated in the bus branding scandal has paid the second tranche of the 1.9 million cedis over billing. The President has also taken a bold decision upon advice to dismiss all Judges and judicial staff implicated in the Anas Aremeyaw Anas expose’ on corruption.
Besides, the Attorney General and other relevant stakeholders are working together to bring the Witness Protection Bill to Parliament for consideration.
The first in a series of Citizens Complain Centers has also been set up in Accra. The Centre located in Room 209 on the 2nd floor of the Public Services Commission Building will among other things receive and processes complaints.
The AG’s Department, according to President Mahama, also reviewed several judgment debt cases and has saved the state much as US$900 million as of December 2015.
In domestic cases, last year alone, the Attorney General’s Department successfully resisted claims of over US$100 million.
In his recent interviews the President has emphasized the political risk any government runs in the fight against corruption but reiterated his commitment to tackle it head-on.
“If you have noticed with all the regimes that have come to pass since constitutional rule in 1992, prosecutions that have occurred have mostly been of political opponents after having lost power. I am the only president who has taken it upon myself to fight corruption while in office,” he said.
He sanctioned the national security (BNI) to commence investigations into operations at the National Service Secretariat which led to the indictment of scores of officials. 163 personnel of the Scheme have since been dismissed and over 18.5million cedis recovered to the state. Thirty-three others including the former NSS Executive Director and his Deputy are being prosecuted.
In terms of GYEEDA, a number of persons, including the former CEO, are also being prosecuted. Government has also taken a bold step to eliminate ghost names on the pay roll while the public particularly Civil Society and the media are being encouraged to operate freely to expose corrupt practices.
Several high profile cases are also being tackled. This includes Republic vrs Alfred Agbesi Woyome who is now under pressure to pay back the 51.2 million cedis wrongfully paid to him.
The National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP), whose implementation would be a criterion for assessing the performance of Ministries, Heads and Chief Executive Officers of public sector, and the expected passage of the Right to Information Bill will give a further boost to Ghana’s effort.
By Dan Acheampong