This week, as part of my Patriotic Epistles series, I will suggest one among the many solutions to some of the precarious issues facing this country. On corruption, I have proposed this paradox of a title – replace all portraits of the president, Akufo-Addo with that of undercover journalist, Manasseh Azure, following the recent report on how state contracts are illegally awarded without due diligence ; and on the other hand, the swift action by the president, Nana Akufo Addo to suspend the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), Mr. Adjenim Boateng Adjei.
The recently premiered corruption scandal dubbed #Contract4Sale is currently under further investigations by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Special Prosecutor, after it was referred by the president. The content of the exposé left every Ghanaian shocked, the president should be shocked even more since he once applauded the PPA under Mr. Adjei for saving the state colossal monies. Anyone would be shocked because the PPA under the tenure of the embattled CEO won awards which prove competencies and if you like, incorruptibleness. However, as alleged, when no one was watching, he contributed largely to the shabby works done by some of our roads, the delays in contract execution, the renegotiation of government’s contracts under personal and private terms and conditions, and the deception of the state by posing as the real contractor for restricted bids. As prelim response by the president within barely 24 hours, Mr. Adjei was suspended.
Indeed, the exposé is just one of the many this country has experienced since the introduction of avant-garde means of getting results for the media. Every year around this month, the foundations of this country is shaken with damning corruption exposẽ by some of our renowned undercover journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Manasseh Azure inter alios. Regardless, the legal tussles resolving from tactics employed and the counter allegations, they have gradually become anti-corruption icons feared and dreaded by many unscrupulous public officials. The latest high fever suffered by public officers is “Anasism or Azurism”. In order words “Is Anas or Azure watching?”. The fear of these undercover reporters watching compels us all to do the right things. Nothing now happens in the dark, hence many are being forced to stay and work right.
Granted we are all not saints, I find it even more worrying to think that those in the echelons of power whose political and administrative influence are greater than the ordinary citizen, can still be indulged in shady activities which continuously deplete the national coffers. This suggests that, more than ever, power needs not be absolute since it has tendencies to corrupt. Among the many rhetorically solutions to corruption – there must be a check, not the legal checks which are often interpreted to suit the offender, but a psychological check.
Now avert your mind to all the alleged corrupt acts involving public officials captured on tape. You would observe that right on top of the heads in the offices of these CEOs, Administrative heads and VIPs of government institutions, is the portrait of the first gentleman of the land, the commander in chief of the army, I mean the president. Often the portrait is either right on top of their heads on the wall where they sit or in vantage position for every visitor to see. The current portrait is the sitting president Nana Akufo Addo, conventionally, should he lose the 2020 elections, his portraits in these offices will be changed in consonance with protocol.
Ironically, presidents are exonerated or insulated from such deals no matter how the pendulum points towards them. They are seen as the only firebrands to take drastic steps to reduce and eliminate corruption. But this is the irony painted – an incorruptible picture of the appointing authority which seats on top of an appointee’s head or right in front of his appointees could not stop the corrupt inklings of the officer. It is therefore not far from the truth to say that not even the portraits of our presidents standing in various public offices can deter appointees from indulging in crimes.
As inherently corrupt as we all can be, we tend to forget someone is watching. Even as sanctimonious as we can be as Ghanaians, we feel God or Allah intervenes in the affairs of men to ward off only evil coming way or to administer miracles. The conscience which reminds us that the act is wrong is seen as poverty-stricken fear. It is therefore high time we institutionalize these anti-corruption faces in our offices, hospitals, boardrooms and at any place which foster that psychological watch and check on these public officers. Not only government, but institutions can also adopt this communication strategy, it could suppress corrupt tendencies. Extend this strategy to the entrances, stairs, streets and alleyways of the metropolis.
It is true as some would say not even the portrait of a faceless Anas or a bold Bongo boy could deter a hardened criminal from robbing the state, but hear this – if in the faces of these portraits and inscription like “Anas is watching” or “Manasseh is writing”, people still perpetuate these corrupt acts, then their taste for corruption may be of sorcery or of a curse.
The writer is the 2019/2020 best graduating student in print journalism and the most promising student journalist of GIJ. firstname.lastname@example.org