The lack of public sector accountability, coupled with the alarming rate of public sector corruption remains the primary challenge faced in efforts aimed at national development and there must be deliberate steps taken to reverse the trend, the Executive Director for the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah, has said.
Speaking at an event to celebrate the Communication Students Association of Ghana (COMSAG) chapter of the University from Development Studies (UDS), he stated that the default position of indifference to this problem will have dire implications – economic and otherwise – for the nation.
Highlighting some of the potential economic implications, he said: “Multiple data sources and reports show that as a country, we lose almost US$3 billion annually to public sector corruption. That is about more than GH¢15 billion to corruption. If a quarter of that figure were to be invested in our country annually, we would have dealt with some of the basic problems that still confront us.”
He added that the desire for genuine accountability and transparency has been derailed mostly by political fanaticism. “Over the years, the quest for public sector accountability, and the fight against corruption have been reduced to merely political sloganeering,” he observed.
Bemoaning the selective application of the national criminal code, he said: “Though we have the criminal code, the public procurement act, Internal Audit Agency Act, Anti-Money Laundering Act, and many more acts, however, there seems that these laws appear to be only effective when it comes to the person who steals fingers of plantain or the one who steals a hundred cedis.”
On the culture of silence
Mr. Braimah further expressed concerns over the culture of victimization and oppression that is currently prevailing in the system saying, “Many people would want to raise their voices, many people would want to assert to the constitutional obligation to demand accountability, expose wrongdoing, and to fight for the right things but fear due to intimidation.”
He noted that this is particularly rampant for government-appointed officials and called civil and public servants to be mindful that their loyalties belong to the nation and not the government in power. He also extended the charge to practicing media professionals and those undergoing training.
President-elect for COMSAG Iddrisu Eliasu Saaba appealed for support to enhance the media laboratory of the University to help train more professionals for the media industry.
The COMSAG week celebration was held on the theme ‘Dominant Views, Constructive Criticism and Public Sector Accountability In Ghana: The Role Of The Fourth Estate And Other Communication Actors.’ The theme was chosen to educate the communication students on the relevance and role of the media in the fight against corruption.