Would anyone want to buy Ghana considering its current state and dwelling citizens? You must be a daring business man to want to purchase such a country with corruption as its first name and incompetence as its surname—yet unnoticed by those who claim to be in charge.
Over the years, I have heard countless people throwing punches at the Government (it doesn’t really matter which party is in power) as the fountainhead of corruption—and occasionally I have joined the shout against corruption too. The Ghanaian government is corrupt, has always been corrupt and will forever be corrupt.
I do not need to refer to any corruption index to establish for you that corruption has become part and parcel of our existence—to the extent that it has somewhat lost its shock in our society.
The relationship between the corrupt government officials and the citizens falls within the confusion of the chicken and egg paradox; very difficult to ascertain which comes first. In this case, I would settle for the citizens being the source of corruption—which grows to have a larger effect when same citizens take charge.
Corruption starts on a tiny scale as dishonesty influenced by money and this is the game most Ghanaians play at the bottom of the food chain. Can you remember the last time you met a sincere Ghanaian whose opinions couldn’t be influenced by cushioning his bank account? Of course such a person may exist but you would have to go through the eye of the needle to locate one in our current societal settings.
Being dishonest for financial gains is no more an offence against our individual conscience—let a lone a taboo in our collection of morals. From afar, we are able to point at how those in charge are doing this, perfectly called corruption but in our daily lives, we are no different.
The test of real honesty is not just when you are able to point out the truth but when you are able to do so irrespective of the in your face influence—money does the influencing magic. The president, his Ministers and his bunch of associates are corrupt; that is a daily cry in Ghana and you would be a ‘dead goat’ not to know this but the citizens are no different…
If you consider corruption as a living instrument that grows over time, then you should attempt to look at the governments-citizens relationship in that sector. The people who occupy important government positions (those we deem corrupt) were once ordinary citizens like us—and surely, they did not just become corrupt over night when they became government officials. Even as citizens, corruption was part of their language, though it could have been on a small scale—-consequently, unaddressed or unnoticed.
Look at the activities in the hands of ordinary Ghanaians; from the market to small scale customer service provisions and ask yourself how honest those in charge are—and how easily it is to sway someone or something to your advantage with money.
Somewhere last year I was travelling from Accra to Cape Coast with a friend and when we got to the station, the available bus was almost full—there was just one space left. This meant that, we couldn’t join that particular bus and it also meant that we had to wait several hours for the next to get full.
My travelling buddy got into a ‘silent’ conversation with the one in charge of ticketing and asked him if he could get us on board with a little extra payment. And by this, he was looking to double the price of the tickets for him. The ticket man spoke to another colleague and soon, there was a plan—they took the money from my friend and shouted to a calmly seated woman that she has to get down because the bus was over-booked.
What they were trying to do was to pull the woman who had obviously purchased her ticket before us down—and get us on board; by saying they made a mistake with her booking. The lady was upset but soon I saw her get her luggage, ready to get down. I looked at my friend and the two men and said; this is not right—let the woman go, we will take the next bus or make the journey tomorrow.
The above is not much of anything compared to the magnitude of corruption we hear about each day in Ghana but that is how corruption starts—on a small money influencing scale like this. Soon, it graduates to involve millions of cedis when the person who has practised this for many years on a small scale gets access to big opportunities.
This is not a case in isolation because right from the Kotoka International Airport to the queuing KVIP toilets, the only language most ordinary Ghanaians understand is corruption—we live it, we breathe it and yet claim to hate it.
The corrupt government (we love to call it so) is a perfect reflection of the Ghanaian society. Ghana is the only country I have visited where you can buy the conscience of full grown up human beings with such an ease. All you have to do is dig deep in your pocket and mostly, the persons will become oblivious to their morals, conscience and integrity.
Maybe it’s not the fault of the citizens; hunger has reduced the bunch of us into ‘dog type human beings’, whoever throws the money (food) gets to become the master of our conscience—and we will pledge to help, defend and uphold the dealings of the person no matter what.
Even the most ‘dim-witted believer’ of miracles would not expect a corn to be planted and a cat to germinate out of the enterprise—yet we seem to want corrupt free governments when we continue to perpetuate corruption at the grass root.
If we want to eradicate or at best cut down corruption in governments, we need to address the increasing dishonest at the lower level. We must begin to instil accountability and honesty where it matters and that is; ‘in the minds of the ordinary citizens’. This way, when those we deem corrupt leave, we would not be voting into power a new set of corrupt individuals from the pool of corrupt citizens.
Of course the government is corrupt but you are no different—perhaps, the difference lies in the fact that you do not have access to the big national cash box yet.