Local anti-corruption campaigners say they are unimpressed with the Akufo-Addo-led administration’s fight against corruption in its first year. Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show’s Corruption Watch segment on Wednesday, the campaigners expressed disappointment at the turn of events.
Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye stated, “Government would have to listen and stop justifying that it is doing a lot to fight corruption when the people [Ghanaians] think that a lot more could be done to ensure that there is greater transparency in the way cases of corruption are handled.”
This, he believes, can be done by ensuring that institutions set to handle corruption are left to operate with little or no interference. He indicated that at the moment, the interference in the work of these institutions is the reason there are yet to be any concrete resolutions to cases of corruption in the country.
“That is what we are missing,” he added.
Citing the contaminated fuel saga that rocked the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) and the subsequent manner in which the issue was handled, Mr. Boakye said the first step taken by the Energy Ministry to deal with the issue was spot on.
But the ensuing developments, where the Energy Ministry made statements that should have been made by the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) which was investigating the issue at that point defeated the earlier motive.
“It is like Number 10 Downing Street speaking for Scotland Yard; it doesn’t happen or even the White House speaking for the CIA. You need to have institutions with their own outfits speaking for themselves. But we never saw the report, the BNI never spoke and the Ministry did the PR work of the security agencies and that is what we have to live with,” he added.
In Mr. Boakye’s view, if this keeps occurring, then the public’s confidence in these state institutions to fight corruption wanes, creating confusion in the minds of people. He argued that the only institutions that deliver verdicts people can appreciate will be trusted, especially in the fight against corruption.
“They rushed to defend the process, how it all went about and not really to deal with the matter,” he added.
Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Linda Ofori Kwafo, who also contributed to the discussion, was of the view that the government was not prepared to deal with the BOST issue. According to her, the government deliberately created some form of confusion in the system and that was evident in the manner it handled the issue.
“So far as I’m concerned, I think the government did not set out to investigate this matter for us to get the final conclusion that we are looking for,” she said.
She added, “So far as an ordinary Ghanaian is concerned, fighting corruption is about proper investigations, about sanctioning and making the people know what has happened.”
“The provision of resources for the implementation of the National Anti Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) is meaningless to the people until they can see what is being done on the issue,” she noted.
She indicated that passing the Office of Special Prosecutor Bill into law and assenting to it means nothing; “They want to see investigations properly conducted and people who have gone wrong sanctioned and monies recovered.”
Mrs. Kwafo averred that although her institution appreciates government’s efforts, the ordinary people are saying “Mr. President your government has not done anything. That is where government should be focusing its attention.”
The Vice President of policy think tank IMANI Ghana, on the other hand, stressed that the sloppy manner in which the BOST contaminated fuel issue was dealt with may come back to haunt the government in 2020. According to Kofi Bentil, too many mistakes were made and added, “If I had my way the president should purge himself of the BOST situation.”
He noted strongly that the issue was not dealt with properly and that there is the need to revisit it. A heavy hand, he said, should have come down on BOST just to send a message situations like that will not be tolerated.
“Here is a mistake that should not have happened. You have engineers and all kinds of people handling this kind of thing. BOST is a specialised agency. I’m not saying human beings don’t make mistakes, but when you have such a massive contamination, it means the thing went on for so long.
“And clearly the people who made the decision made a wrong decision all through the line. It smacks too much of too many coincidences…I think at least the boss there should have paid the price,” he added.