It is an incontrovertible fact that times are hard in Ghana. But it seems that is the case for only the ordinary person, as anyone in a position of power seems solely interested in how they can abuse it for their own benefit.
A common belief is shared that corruption is rife in Ghana, but the Bureau of National Inverstigations (BNI) have uncovered a racket within the National Service Scheme(NSS) that even by our standards, is truly mind boggling.
Graphic Online reports officials of the BNI have uncovered a deep seated rot at the NSS that loses the country over GHc 7.9 million every month. The scam is carried out by inflating the roster of National Service personnel, with the perpetrators then cashing out the allowances of the non-existent ghost names they flood the system with.
The ghost names are reportedly generated from the head office in Accra, and then distributed to regional and district personnel involved in the scam. To keep the possibility of discovery low, the ghost personnel are often posted to remote and often non-existent institutions.
An unnamed source told the Graphic “The ghost names are distributed by the NSS Headquarters to the its regional directors, who also distribute them to the district national service directors”
“After payments to genuine service personnel, the allowances of the ‘ghosts’ are withdrawn in bulk and shared among district, regional, and national officers of the NSS”
The BNI have already picked up some officials, and they revealed interrogation seems to be going well so far, with some having broken down and admitted to their roles in this scam that looking at its magnitude; the most corrupt Mafioso boss in the west would be extremely proud of.
Interestingly, the BNI also revealed some people tried bribing them when they attempted making arrests; with items ranging from GHc 200,000, to smocks, yams, laptops, and goats.
I can scarcely wrap my head around the figures being thrown around in this surreal story. The figures lost monthly increases exponentially when calculated annually, and only God knows how long this has been going on.
“Annually, about GHc 94,970,400 in underserved allowances is lost to the state. The number of ghost names is expected to increase when the exercise is completed” The report states
This is all a little hard to digest, but this is the Ghana we live in now. The stipend for service personnel is a measly GHc 350, and most of the time the allowance is not paid on time, sometimes as much as three months late.
Juxtapose this with this scam that skims millions for those in charge, and you get why it’ll be difficult for us to progress to any meaningful level as a country. Those in charge only care about lining up their pockets, and this is in no way limited to these disgraceful hacks running this NSS scam.
‘Cry, The Beloved Country’, was Alan Paton’s 1948 classic on a deeply racial South Africa and one of my favourite novels. I find no words more apt to describe my country than those four titular words.