The first time I heard a figure above one thousand was when I entered Winneba Secondary School, to study accounting. My then Accounting Tutor, Mr. J. B. Ninson, who is now the Effutu Municipal Chief Executive, introduced the concept of accounting, and began to throw long figures on the chalk board, with a lot of zeros. I continued to face these figures in the books, but never handled them, for they were, indeed, huge figures, like 756,745,002, 920 (remember at that time we were using the old Ghana Cedis).
The next time I heard those figures coming to life, was when politicians began to throw dust at each other. In the year 2001, when the NPP first came to power, they began to inform the public how much debts the then NDC government had accumulated and left behind. It was all included in corruption scandals, one government after the other, now all throwing big corruption figures out there, notable among being the one that we gave to Woyome and his rotten deals.
Tomorrow Adom FM, led by its morning show host, Captain Smart, is matching on the streets of Accra, to protest against corruption in the country, and presenting a petition to EOCO, to put pressure in order that they will retrieve the monies stolen from the state. My organization, National Media Center, will participate fully. I will personally participate in the match, to support the cause.
We have had very good opportunities to have passed the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law. It is unfortunate that we had to allow ourselves to get to this level, where the amount we are losing to corruption, on its own, is capable of running our entire economy. Our poor performance in successfully fighting corruption can be attributed to information obstruction, and the unwillingness on the part of public officials to release information.
What we are talking about is the challenges Journalists are facing, of being able to discover these public corrupt practices before they happen. This is because we have refused to pass the RTI Bill, despite several years of advocacy. This has resulted in depriving citizens, of adequate information, to pursue some of these momentous corrupt practices.
This week the Ghana Standards Authority is in focus. The former Director General is reported to have inflated a contract which was supposed to have cost $7million, to over $14million, and took for himself $3.3million out of the contract sum. This was in respect of only one contract, the construction of a new block of the Standards Authority Training School. Dr. George Crentsil, the man at the center of the scandal, is reported to have admitted taking the money.
The same George Crentsil is reported to have bought for himself five V8 vehicles, and fuelled all of them simultaneously, nearly every day of the week; which means Dr. George Crentsil was using all the five V8 vehicles at the same time every day of the week, all the days of his life at post. In addition, he is reported to have built, with government money, two storey houses in East Legon, one for himself, and the other for his wife. He is reported to have employed his brother-in-law, and ensured that this brother-in-law, who also works with SSNIT, took salaries from both SSNIT and the Ghana Standards Authority.
Simpa Panyin, you see why I get angry all the time? You see why I have begun to develop some sharp teeth? Tell me, in the spirit of the above, why do we have to put such thieves in charge of our state institutions, to regulate standards in this country? How could we guarantee that such a thief was not issuing certification to unqualified products, after taking bribes? What at all are we looking for? Why are we so callous, why are we so wicked? Why? Sometimes it gets so painful, that I am unsure what to do with myself.
Don’t worry, I will be there this Friday, with Adom FM, and with my crew from the National Media Center. I will register my presence. We should not allow such filthy persons to continue to steal our monies and go unpunished. I now, more than ever, understand why Martin Amidu has been so outraged, and wanted desperately to bring down his own party’s government; the festival of corruption scandals was just unacceptable.
I read one report where a District Assembly is reported to have spent over GHC100, 000, to inspect a project which is only about a hundred meters away from the Assembly’s own office, about the length of a football pitch. There was a time when another District Assembly spent over GHC800,000 on fuel alone, and in that same report, a Coordinating Director is supposed to have travelled, from Kumasi to Accra, which is supposed to be about 200 kilometers journey, eleven times a day, every day of the week, throughout the year; how is this possible, even if he was flying?
Kwami Sefa Kayi of Peace FM is raising money to purchase 100 incubators for one hundred hospitals in Ghana. Incubators are used to survive babies who are born before the 37th week of the pregnancy. In Ghana, over 140,000 babies are born before the 37th week of the pregnancy, with over 29,000 of them dying before four weeks of their lives, representing over 14% of all babies born in Ghana. Such babies born pre-term need the incubators to survive, and the cost of one incubator is $10,000. This means Kwame Sefa Kayi needs $1,000,000 to purchase the 100 incubators. This campaign was started two years ago, and so far he has installed only four of the incubators.
And we have someone like George Crentsil (Dr), with all his education, and with all the rotten mind, eating deep into monies that belong to these babies, that could have bought 300 of such incubators, that could have saved 20,000 babies. George, you took all of that money for yourself and your family, and you watched these babies died needlessly? Doctor George Crentsil, where is your heart located?
No, you don’t deserve to live amongst decent people, your place is in a rotten prison, a coward like you, you take monies that belongs to the poor, and you use it on your wife and children, you are a disgrace to them, your kinds of people are worst than those armed robbery gangs who must make you their target.
It is urgent; we all need to join in the fight against corruption. It is no longer funny, it is no longer just an economic issue, corruption is now a security threat. It is everywhere, in the Army, the Police, in the Judiciary, at the Presidency, and it is becoming worst within the very institutions that are supposed to be fighting it, CHRAJ, and all.
No right thinking professional Journalist is interested in the private lives of public officials. In the last decade, I have had several instances when people have asked for my opinion on people’s private lives. I have always refused to comment on any of such questions. I don’t care about what people do in their private lives, whether they were public office holders or not. Why should I be bothered with what another person is doing in his private bedroom, and to think about it, whether it is right or it is wrong, when I know that what that person might be doing has no bearing on me?
What I am interested in is what a public office holder is doing with the resources that have been entrusted to him. I can no longer sit on the fence, and watch poor unemployed, and unemployable, people become super rich overnight. I see poverty every day, I see needless deaths every so often, and I see children painfully suffering in the name of poverty, in the name of diseases, and in the name of ignorance.
My brother, are we not putting lunatics in positions of public authority? Are we not? Don’t you think we need psychiatric examination for all of the officials we appoint to positions of authority in this country? And all of these people are in the churches and mosques, giving offerings, dancing praises to God, and getting all the attention, God will punish them all, together with all those who are shielding them.
Source: James Kofi Annan/ [email protected]
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