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Nana Addo, Where Are We?   
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I look forward into the year 2018 with gratitude, and with excitement, but also with fear, and with uncertainties. The Delta Forces have come, and I don’t know whether they are gone.

I am pleased that the Free SHS has come to stay, and it seems it has been able to even out the inequalities that existed in our schools. Nearly all of us now seem equal in all the schools – both the rich and the poor are either sleeping in dormitories, or are sleeping in the open.

The day I heard that some matrons of some of the secondary schools were stealing the food items in their school kitchens, I felt I should have been a policeman, a prosecutor and a judge, all at the same time. I’m sure by now they would have been inside, if you know where I am talking about.

Anyway, one of my biggest expectations going into 2017 was the hope that your government was going to fight corruption with sustained enthusiasm. I did not see that happening. What I have seen has rather been a constant reference to the Special Prosecutor, as if the Special Prosecutor is a sophisticated scientific equipment bi, being shipped into the country, to perform some magic bi, I don’t know Nana.

The dying CHRAJ is still receiving budget allocations. The vindictive EOCO still exists. We have the organized crime unit of the Ghana Police Service. We have several institutions which exist already, to fight corruption. Why are we running ourselves as if the Special Prosecutor is, all of a sudden, the flight in search of flying?

It, unfortunately, looks to me, as though, the job of the Special Prosecutor is going to target the officials of the former government only – I get that from the utterances of some of your officials. But that is not what I wish for anyway, and that is not what I voted for. I voted for a change. A change from how things were done, to how things should be done. No one should be a God onto himself.

Unfortunately I have seen impunity, I have seen power display, and I have seen indifference, now, in 2017, in much the same way as I saw in 2009 when the then NDC took over power. So where is the change I voted for?

I don’t agree that fighting corruption should be targeted at political opponents only. As citizens we must all feel at home, and we must believe that the law would work, equally, for all of us, and that my political patronage should not determine the approach to which corrupt investigations would be conducted on my interests.

I will like to, for instance, repeat my call, to the Ministry of Environment, for the restoration of Ibrahim Mahama’s Hinahinni Bauxite licenses. We cannot target Ibrahim Mahama, simply on the basis that he is an NDC, or that he is the brother of the former President, and that he committed many corrupt acts during his brother’s reign – we don’t have those as evidence.

Ibrahim Mahama is a Ghanaian, protected under the laws of Ghana. He is not guilty until he has been proven guilty. We cannot target his business interests just because of our perception of him, that he was corrupt during his brother’s administration. If we have anything evidential against the man, we should take him to court, prosecute him, and all of us shall support such a nonselective application of the law. Until then, don’t take the law into your own hands, and assume that our votes for you to gain power also meant that you should go about seizing people’s properties anyhow – no way!

I also don’t believe that fighting corruption should be targeted at those who are loudest. In my own small corner I am a witness to several of such vindictive public office wrongdoing against citizens who are expressive. For instance I wrote a couple of articles about the Ghana Revenue Authority, and since then I have witnessed not less than 20 different GRA visits to my office, including audits which were obviously designed to frustrate my work. This is not how citizens should be made to feel in their genuine quest to be included in the governance of the country.

It appears we are ending the year 2017 in style, with the GHC800,000 for GHC80,000 website budget allocation scandal. I am a bit surprised at how Ghanaians are surprised at this budget overload. My brother, this isn’t news. It is the practice in all of the public budgets – insanely inflated figures hiding themselves in plain sights, with individual interests lurking in search of approvals.

In the year 2008 I attempted to participate in the bidding processes for the printing of brochures and other materials for one of the prominent agencies in Ghana. Eventually I succeeded in getting the procurement committee to ask me to bring quotations to be considered for the job.

I brought the quotations, and met all the technical requirements, including tax clearance certificates, and all the associated documentations. A couple of days after submitting my quotations, I was invited to the office of the bidding institution. And the Director in charge of the process informed me that he was happy with my quotations, and that the committee had decided to award me the contract.

The man then pulled a document, and showed a budget item to me. It was the amount budgeted for the printing jobs for the year under review. He wrote the figure clearly on a sticker paper, a figure that was about hundred (100x) times more than the figure I had quoted for them. He then asked me to go back and change my quotations, to match the figures that he had written on the sticker paper.

The Director went further to state that when the work is done, they would pay me the full amount that he had given me, but I would have to pay to him, upfront, in physical cash, the difference between my original quotation, and the amount he had asked me to quote, before the contract could be signed with me – do you get the crime?

So I asked, but you know that you are going to withhold some taxes? He said yes. And I asked again, but you know I would have to issue VAT receipt on the payments, to cover the full amount you are going to pay me? He said, yes, but gentleman, do you want to do the job? You are asking too many questions. Just go and let me have the new quotation, and when the time comes for the payment, we will help you to sought out all of those details.

I came back to my office, and began to calculate the risks, and I concluded that I was no longer interested in the job. It was a difficult decision, but I thought that the man was going to help me fall into a criminal situation that would not have any evidence of his involvement – a situation which would allow him, in the future, to be exonerated so quickly, and I would have become the jailbird.

While I was planning to inform him that I was no longer interested in the contract, he had also decided that they were no longer going to award the contract to me – I was obviously too inquisitive for the deal. They eventually gave the contract to a middle person who quoted nearly twice as much as mine, and the rest is history.

I am therefore surprised that Ghanaians are surprised that the Ministry of Special Initiatives had sneaked an amount of GHC80,000 into their budget. Take your time and go through all of their budget lines, and all the budget lines of the various public sectors, you will know why Ghana continues to be poor.

I am one person who frequents the websites of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies. Most of these ministries have their websites linked to the government websites. In my estimation, none of the government websites should cost more than GHC2,000. At best, all of those websites I have seen should have been done for free. And here I am not talking about its maintenance, neither am I talking about their updates, and content availability. I am talking purely from a technical perspective, functionality, and how useful these websites are for their intended purposes.

The rule, for those nation wreckers, is that make sure that whatever amount of money you wish to steal in the coming year is captured in the budget, thereafter you can have it your way – whether it is a misplaced priority, or an inflated useless project, all you need is to push it into the budget, and get it approved, and then it becomes a winning lottery for you – abeyifo!
Source: James Kofi Annan/ [email protected]

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