The effects of corruption are underdevelopment, deprivation, poverty, crime and all forms of social vices. The chain of negative components that can be identified as a result of corruption are indeed scary. This phenomenon require strict tackle as well as the commitment to deal with corruption mercilessly.
As issues of corruption had mostly been associated with states that practiced dictatorship, one would have thought that upon the adoption of democracy which require institutions of state to be established to deal with issues of corruption, cases of corruption would have been minimised.
The opposite appears to be the case. Corruption appears to be institutionalised making it difficult to cut short bureaucracies in state institutions.
Many coup d’etats can be traced back to allegations of corruption against the ousted governments in the past. Today, elections are contested on the back of corruption against incumbent governments even under democracies.
This leaves one issue – that the issue of corruption is an evergreen subject transcending all forms of governments. This has made the discussions on corruption very important in states that are largely crippled through the practice of same.
In Ghana, issues of corruption have been mainly contested at elections. Governments have been voted out based on perceptions and others voted in to correct the wrongs. However, the cycle is revisited at every election. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have been the beneficiaries of these power rationing.
In all of these, the concentrations have been on government – the executive arm. Little attention had been paid to the two other arms of government – the Legislature and the Judiciary. In instances that issues of corruption were raised, they remained far from relating to the people. Many have never seen these institutions to be relevant in the fight perhaps because they might have perceived their indirect control of resources as the reason, with the Judiciary charged with the ultimate responsibility to deliver judgement on cases of corruption brought before it.
Or perhaps, because the executive arm is riddled with extreme and entrenched politicisation, depending on whose side the issues are laid, there would be those who would always point fingers and those who would always defend.
Until the recent release of tapes which captured some Justices of the courts taking bribes and selling justice, many have not paid attention to the courts even when issues of corruption were raised against them. It was that attitude that made Ghanaians abandon the likes of the late head of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) Dr. Larry Biimi and his two other colleagues when they were virtually haunted by the courts for alleging corruption at the Judiciary.
In the end, the three had been proven right a couple of years after he passed away. The truth of what appeared a taboo at the time was laid bare and the entire nation rose to condemn such acts.
I have pointed out the fact that politicians, including those at the Legislative house, have always comfortably pointed fingers at their counterparts in the executive. In effect, they are quite similar but for the principles of separation of powers which is stated in the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
In recent times, there have been reports, comments and articles written by people who sought to drive home the point that the Legislative arm of government, is not without corruption.
Indeed, the Legislative arm has an oversight responsibility over the executive in relation to how monies of the state are used. They are to assess loans and agreements and ensure that they are passed (agreed upon by the house) before they are entered into by the executive arm on behalf of the people.
This responsibility ought to be clear and unequivocal and ought not to lean itself to the executive arm except to liase and to discharge its duties without fear or favour.
In the recent case of alleged bribery in connection with a nominee who appeared before a committee of the House for vetting to enable him to be passed, one cannot, but agree, that the issue of corruption has finally permeated the three arms of government.
This is not all, the fourth estate of the realm, which some have considered to be the fourth arm of government, albeit not recognised under the supreme laws of the land as such, had had its share of receiving monies from politicians at certain instances. The phenomenon where politicians own media houses, have increasingly undermined the independence of the media in dealing with issues of interest to the public.
It is important, in the spirit of transparency and accountability and good governance, to ensure that steps are taken to deal with issues of corruption wherever and whenever they are perpetrated.
The difficulties however is, who has the power to investigate who? This question remain an issue that has never been wasted upon by Parliament. The institution has the powers to enact and implement laws bothering on itself and so it is doing that in this specific case. Would the question not arise; “how best can the citizens be convinced of truth in the discharge of their duties in relation to investigating cases of corruption bothering on themselves?”
As a citizen, I must be convinced beyond every reasonable doubt that institutions of state have the capacity to fully reprimand its staff and members when they go wrong as they would ordinary citizens. It is in this spirit that I thought this latest case of bribery, as topical as it is, and an issue that has attracted local and international interest, was referred to another institution with the powers to handle same, to undertake an independent investigation and the findings made known to the people.
This serves a better interest as the outcome, no matter the mixed reactions from the public, would be accepted by the people without further suspicions of cover up or allegations of operating under duress to appear to be acting in the public’s interest.
In order to ensure development, we must have strong and corruption-free arms of government that serves as checks and balances on each other. Until the credibility of these arms are established and suspicions cleared off the minds of the people, the nature of work and the achievements of these institutions would not be recognised by the people.