Benefiting from one’s relationship with people in authority is an acceptable norm in this country so any of these ‘big men and women’ who want to be ethical are branded as wicked people instead of applauded as principled citizens of our land.
I recall in the 80s,when the Ghana Railways Corporation was still functioning, there was a ticket inspector from my village who was ruthless with people who boarded the trains without tickets.
On some occasions he caught some people from our village and dealt with them to the annoyance of our village folks. Life became miserable for him when he retired as his own family members shunned him and he was attacked verbally anytime he was seen in public.
A story was also told of a senior police officer who retired as a divisional commander in his home district who suffered a worse fate with the entire community rising against him because he refused to bend the rules to benefit his kinsmen and women who broke the law.
One thing I find as shaping our values and behaviours to lead us into the temptation to be corrupt is some of our proverbs. There is an Akan wise crack for instance which translates that no one looks on to be bitten by a dog when there is a stick or club available.
The thinking behind this is that, should one be faced with financial challenges like settling an urgent bill like medical bill,or children’s school fees for example, there is nothing wrong with unilaterally using monies in one’s custody even if the purpose for the money would be breached.
And this has led to misappropriation or misapplication of even state funds meant for community projects.
Also, such pieces of advice like, “why are you committed so much to this work as if it’s for you’? Or ‘this is Government work,so don’t carry it on your shoulders’ are all proofs of corrupt and unpatriotic minds.
Another thing is that most of us refuse to see using our employer’s time for private ventures as corruption so most employees including some Executives only report to duty and disappear only to appear elsewhere for some private gains.
We have a problem of distinguishing between ‘gifts’ and ‘bribes’.
The other day I heard someone on radio comment that it was wrong for the ‘Anas judges’ to take bribes because if they did their jobs well people could appreciate them by giving them gifts.
My reaction was; what would let any litigant appreciate a judge for a good job if it’s not for receiving some favours?
The good book in Deuteronomy 16:19 says; ‘Thou shalt not wrest judgement…..,neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous’.
Taking and receiving of ‘gifts’ are part of us and anyone who refuses a gift is rather frowned upon. Infact, it is offensive and unacceptable for anyone in our society to refuse a gift, no matter the intentions of the giver. But we must start to deal with such issues as a people.
Over two decades ago, when I did my National Service at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GHAPOHA),there were signs put across the port forbidding the giving and acceptance of gifts and I remember people complaining about that. I wonder if that policy is even there today.
One other observation is that we are a people with the propensity to live to please others even when it’s needless.
So for example when you meet someone you know at the public transport terminal, you may feel compelled to pay the fare for the fellow though that person came to board the bus or taxi prepared.
If we want to tackle the canker of corruption, first, all of us have to agree that it is not only a group of people who are corrupt or likely to be corrupt. We are all susceptible to fall if we are not determined to root out this destroyer of nations.
At a programme to admit new judges to the bench earlier in the year, the Chief Justice made an appeal to the friends and relations who were there to support to refuse to be used as conduits to take parties in cases to their homes or offices to influence them.
If all of us including the judges themselves must heed this advice and not influence colleague judges to favour people they know as parties in cases and the rest of us must also resolve not to entertain people with interest in cases, then the Anas videos would be worth their purpose.
Various bodies including religious bodies must not lie to themselves that they have angels to deal with so that they can truly lead the crusade to fight this national disease.
On the whole, there must be a national consciousness to deal with this problem so that our children and their children’s children will not come and curse our generation.
By Rev. Kojo Ackaah-Kwarteng