Why Won't We Be Poor? When Create, Loot And Share Is The New Norm

Ghana is a nation where government workers of all shades (civil servants, public servants, politicians and even private business people) have discovered avenues of enriching themselves unashamedly to the extent that some have become dollar millionaires.
Some have even become richer than the country itself, flaunting their wealth without fear of prosecution. If not, how does one explain the following?

National Communications Authority (NCA)

A few top management executive members connive to divert and share $4,000,000 among themselves. Despite all the extravagant perks of their office, these top officials did not blink an eye about taking so much money for themselves. It can only be 'evil greed' that will make a man or woman look the rest of us in the eyes and say to us, 'To hell with you, we are taking our piece of the national cake.' And this impudence is fuelled by the fact that, at worst, they would only be asked to refund what they have stolen and even then, in their own time. And this appears to be exactly what is happening right now. They would probably repay with the interest accrued from such a large sum of money deposited in a bank somewhere. And there would probably not be any jail terms for them. So why would anyone be deterred from similar acts in the future?

And this is only the NCA whose principal actors are probably just 'unlucky' to have been found out. What about all the other CLS schemes  that have taken place but have not been unearthed in the hundreds of government institutions? One of the 'unlucky' ones to have been discovered is the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).

Ghana Standards Authority

What happened here is mind-boggling. A US $5,000,000 project is inflated to US $14,000,000 through CLS. The excess is shared between the contractor and the chief executive officer (CEO). The CEO gets US $3,200,000 (meanwhile an official enquiry claims its US $1,200,000), a three-bedroom house at East Legon for his wife and a five-bedroom house at Adjiringanor for himself. If this was not fuelled by 'evil greed', then I don't know what else it can be.

I can bet my last pesewa that this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are other variants of this CLS disease, a typical example of which is narrated below, based on a true story.

ABC Ltd is a wholly-owned government company. Its CEO and board members are appointed by the President.

Now, the parliamentary and presidential elections are fast approaching and the party whose government is in power comes up with a very clever scheme to make money.

ABC Ltd is made to advertise a service to be provided for it. Company DEF Ltd is hurriedly registered by members of the same governing party and it wins the contract to provide the advertised service.

The contract is worth US $5 million. Halfway through the provision of the service, government company ABC abrogates the contract with the excuse that it is not satisfied with the quality of the service being delivered.

Of course, as already planned, company DEF Ltd threatens to go to court.

And this is where the real scheming starts. The lawyers for DEF Ltd belong to the same chambers; one is the governing party's official lawyer and the other represents government officials at the highest level.

Government company ABC's lawyer is also a member of the same governing party.

At their meetings to 'solve this problem amicably', company DEF's lawyers prove that if the case goes to court and ABC loses, the latter would end up paying a colossal sum of money per the legal guidelines in determining such cases. In other words, they all agree that it is better to 'settle'. Whereupon they agree on a sum which is much smaller than would have been awarded by a court, but of course much larger than the original contract sum. Done deal. All actors gain except the government which owns company ABC.

Is there any hope for Ghana?

It appears that for some people, the clamour for higher appointment is simply to line their pockets to the detriment of the nation. Many of these people go to church or to the mosque regularly and yet it appears it is all a facade.

Is there a solution?

Of course there's a solution if only there's the political will. There must be severe punishment when people like this are caught. But even before that, it should be possible to proactively investigate possible wrongdoing. Money doesn't hide. If civil servants display wealth disproportionate to their income, they should be investigated. We must stop 'worshipping' so-called wealthy people without knowing their sources of income.

It appears that as a nation, we have come to believe that it is only the politicians who are corrupt. But from what we are seeing and hearing now, it must be the civil and public servants who are most corrupt, and in fact, are the ones who most likely corrupt the politicians as well.

We must begin to Name, Shame and Punish (NSP) offenders.