Causes of Corruption in Ghana

Our extended family system in Ghana means we have a heavy dependency load. This is because we lack national institutions to take care of the unemployed, aged and destitute. Our SSNIT and Pension Funds are full of heavy doses of corruption as the workers there are now the supposed beneficiaries and the actual beneficiaries are relegated into limbo. A poor worker in Ghana with meagre pay has to fend for himself and a host of dependants whose expectations are high, especially among the Akans who practice matrilineal inheritance. The annual trip home to celebrate Afahye, Fetu, Aboakyir, Odwiraa, Ahobaa, Hogbetsetso, Homowo, Kundum, Okyir, Ohum, Dagbon, Akwambo, Akwesidae and Kotokro festival is a nightmare because you have to go on a shopping spree at Game Stores or Shoprite or Accra Mall to buy presents for all your loved ones or else they will brand you a bad boy or girl and they may curse you or practise witchcraft or juju you. In this scenario, who will not succumb to bribes at the workplace?

Coupled with this is the mad Ghanaian materialistic craving to build extravagant mansions and to buy expensive cars and clothing to show off. We forget that real happiness lies within and if we go by platonic absolutes, the real world is the spiritual or abstract world and that is in accord with our Christian aspirations. I think to combat corruption in Ghana, we need to douse our flame and knack for excessive material things. I enjoin Ghanaians to read more spiritual and philosophical books, especially the Bible, Plato, Aristotle, Bertrand Russell and others. It is important to fight corruption by breaking the cycle of the dependency syndrome. Everybody should be up and doing rather than relying on remittances from relatives working abroad. It is however, not out of step to bend backwards to help our relatives whenever we can but then this should not be overdone as it reduces our marginal propensity to save and to accumulate capital for investment.

This syndrome could be an indirect cause of corruption in Ghana. Corruption also rears its ugly head in the public and civil services where subsistent wages abound and there are poor working conditions. If you consider soldiers and civil servants, their remuneration is nothing to write home about. The most corrupt institutions in Ghana are the police, customs, internal revenue, accountant general’s officers, judiciary and the public hospitals. Fancy someone in a very critical health condition who goes to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital or 37 Military Hospital and the surgeon asks this poor folk to pay 2000 new Ghana Cedis. This type of extortion and corruption is heinous and inhuman. In the civil service, meritocracy is minimal because recruiters only employ those who can pay heavy bribes. What about admission to our state colleges and universities? It is the same story of tribalism, nepotism, political party cardreism and heavy practice of homeboyism. Lucrative jobs are given to cronies who know next to nothing about their jobs or remit.

How can we increase real GDP growth if these anomalies persist in Ghana? In management science, there is the famous Peters’ principle of being promoted to one’s highest level of incompetence. Here, we find square pegs in round holes or what is called sinecure. Tribalism is a cankerworm which must be uprooted in this country because it is divisive, retrogressive and it breeds corruption. During the time of Nkrumah (1951 – 1966), corruption was not entirely absent but it was really tamed within bounds because as a principled leader, he led by example and woe betide you. if his secret agent agents reported you to him. In his time, Nkrumah embraced all the tribes in Ghana and worked with them on the basis of merit, fidelity and commitment to the cause of Ghana and Africa.

In the boarding secondary schools and training colleges across Ghana, we mixed freely and interacted beautifully. We had friends even from Nigeria and there was nothing like tribalism in Ghana. Who then are those who have introduced tribalism in Ghana? I notice that this took root from the early 80s up to now. Another cause of corruption in Ghana is the behavior of charlatan pastors and so-called prophets and men of God who use their vantage positions to mislead the flock. Many priests and bishops are engaged in dubious acts such as adultery, pedophile, kleptomania, homosexuality, Satanism and ostentatious living. Instead of serving and ministering to the flock the word of God, they have reversed roles and they want to be served. They buy themselves expensive cars, mansions and habiliments and extort monies from their gullible congregations. They have turned Judas Iscariots by dipping their hands in church coffers ad stealing collection money and offerings.

This reminds one of the papacy during the Reformation when Martin Luther criticized bitterly in his 95 theses, issues such as sale of indulgencies, doctrine of transubstantiation, question of the celibacy of the clergy and the questionable acts of the loyal-royal bishops who had concubines and mistresses. If the church itself and its priesthood are corrupt, God save us. Despite the proliferation of religious fervor in Ghana, paradoxically corruption is exploding at the seams. There are numerous cases of corruption in schools, courtrooms, police, and political party conventions, award of government contracts, at state house or seat of government. Trade Union leaders and workers’ representatives have become corrupt as they use union and membership subscriptions to line their pockets, without doing the work of promoting workers’ interest.

These days, it is not even safe to deal with commercial banks as some workers there have resorted to pilfering or stealing monies from clients’ deposits. I remember about eight years ago, I went to one of the leading banks in Accra to cash a foreign cheque and the employees gave me a merry-go-round by putting seemingly insurmountable obstacles in my way in order to earn favors. Luckily, a friend who had an account with the bank branch came to my rescue by depositing the cheque in his account and he gave me the money. Many of these employees live off the bribes they obtain from clients, yet they are well remunerated. Is it greed which makes them corrupt? Remember, corruption started at the Garden of Eden when Eve was tricked by the Serpent to eat the forbidden fruit. It was corruption of our soldiers which led to Nkrumah’s ouster in 1966.

It was corruption which saw the demise of Ghana Airways and the sale of state enterprises such as STC, Nsawam Cannery, Ghana Telecom, Black Star Lines, among a host of others. We find a lot of corruption at the Scholarship Secretariat in Acca where, from time immemorial, some students have been granted state scholarships to study abroad, not on merit but on what is popularly known in Ghanaian parlance as ‘connection’. Do we mean well for our country by engaging in ‘waawaa’ connections and ‘keteasehye’? How long should we sit down for a few people to abuse their offices in feathering their nests at our expense?

This does not call for a call to arms but rather being vigilant and scrupulous in reporting saboteurs and corrupt officials. Perhaps, the police and security agents may be in kahoots with the perpetrators of corruption. Despite corruption being endemic in humans, its prodivities can be drastically minimized by removing all semblances of pseudo-bureaucracy and administrative encumbrances and encrustations. We need to streamline and simplify office procedures to reduce the cost of doing business in Ghana. Singapore has done it. In oil-rich Moslem countries such as UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Sharia law is in force and it reduces crime in general. Why cannot we tighten our laws and statutes?
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