Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The Type Of Leader Who Will End The Power & Influence Of Vested Interests In Ghana

The latest corruption allegation to do with the organisation of Ghana's participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil,  if proven to be actually true, will be a perfect illustration of the immense power and baleful influence of the vested interests that operate from the shadows, in our national life.

To end high-level corruption, we must rid our nation of the influence of vested interests. They will continue to compromise our ruling elites to the detriment of our country - whichever of the current two major political parties governs Ghana - if their activities are not brought to  a halt permanently.

As regards the alleged curruption in the organisation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, let me hasten to add that one doubts very much that a highly-intelligent politician like the Hon. Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, would involve himself in a corrupt deal with a commercial entity, which any ministry headed by him had a contract with - particularly when he is fully aware that in the #OccupyGhana-era it would end his political career if it came to light.

And one also doubts that a brilliant young man like Mr. Richard Darko would risk the reputation of a solid PR business, Evolution International, which he has worked hard to build over the years, by paying kickbacks to politicians that left a paper trail. That is why it would come as a surprise to me if forensic tests by the police did not establish conclusively that the documents in question were  indeed forgeries.

Having said that, however, the fact still remains  that when major government contracts are awarded in many poor developing countries, the political party in power invariably recieves  kickbacks secretly. It is one of the ways that many political parties fund themselves when in power. And it is a practise that corrupts the system in the poor nations in which it occurs.

Ghana's 4th Republic's massive corruption - under both National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) administrations - results from the vise-like grip on our country exercised by the ruthless and powerful vested interests that profit mightily from our corrupt system: and are thus prepared to pay handsomely to buy dishonest public officials, sundry crooked politicians and our nation's cynical political parties.

Some of that cash obtained from vested interests, is used to lessen the never-ending pressure that party foot-soldiers - the vast majority of whom incredibly expect to be rewarded financially by party bigwigs - exert on government ministers, district chief exacutives, and many of the heads of public-sector entities appointed to their positions because of their loyalty to the ruling party.

And that is one of the ways in which some ordinary people - who really ought to volunteer to help the political parties that they support in the nation-building effort when they are in power, but choose instead  to demand payment for the work they do for political parties - also contribute to the corruption that is slowly destroying our nation.

In many developing nations that are also emerging economies with power generating deficits, the nuclear lobby is active and influential. And so are independent power producers that build and operate coal-fired power plants.

Naturally, lobbyists for companies that build and operate nuclear power plants and coal-fired power plants, are active in Ghana.

And the results of their efforts are there for all to see -  in the strange decision to permit a nuclear power plant and a coal-fired power plant to be built here, although our leaders know perfectly well that radioactive waste from that nuclear power plant will be dangerous for thousands of years,  and that no one can guarantee that that waste will be safely and securely stored, in a corrupt nation that has a poor maintenance culture, and is unable to deal effectively with even the relatively simple task of the disposal of household and industrial waste safely.

Our leaders are also aware of the fact that health-damaging pollution from the emissions of coal-fired power plants in China and South Africa damages the health of tens of millions of Chinese and South African citizens.

One hopes that instead of permitting coal-fired power plants to be built in Ghana, those who now rule our country will follow the example of Myanmar - which is reported by BBC News to be using 60 pop-up gas-fired generators fitted into recycled shipping  containers to provide power for as many as 8 million people. That is a value-for-money and easily-scaleable approach to ending Ghana's power-generating  deficit.

Another example of the baleful influence wielded by vested interests in Ghana, is the power of the lobbyists working for foreign oil companies operating here.

The oddity in that sector of our national econony, is that  - in an era of terrorism by extremist groups in the west African sub-region, such as Boko Haram - vital national security and environmental concerns are often ingnored by our ruling elites: if that will help foreign oil companies to maximise their profits even at society's expense.

When BP spilled oil into the Gulf of Mexico years ago, the U.S. government and law courts made sure that the company bore all the clean-up costs,  and fairly compensated all those whose livelihoods were destroyed by the spillage. The question then is: Should Ghana not take a leaf from America's book?

And, unlike Ghana, one doubts very much if the U.S. Navy - itself a victim of global terrorism - would ever share any of  its vital onshore facilities with any U.S. oil company, let alone a foreign one.

Given the power of vested interests in our country, it is not surprising that we are yet to see any legislation in Ghana, putting all oil agreements in the public domain. Ditto passing laws making oil companies responsible financially for all oil spillage clean-up costs, and making it mandatory that victims  are fairly compensated when their livelihoods are destroyed by oil spills.

 Clearly, Ghana will never prosper if we do not curb the power and influence of vested interests.

The good news, is that Ghana's dynamic young generation can end the power wielded by vested interests in our country -  and thus lessen, if not end, the incidence of high-level corruption in Ghana.

They can do so by  voting for Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom - and, during the 2016 election campaign, volunteer  to help spread news across the country, about the many achievements of a politician who is Ghana's best option in that presidential election.

 A self-made man, Nduom is a wealthy and highly successful businessman,  who has created thousands of jobs through his Groupe Nduom conglomerate. His vast fortune will insulate him from Ghana's vested interests.

It is instructive that the Nkrumahist political party he founded, the Progressive Peoples' Party (PPP), was the only party that was transparent about its sources of funding for the campaign for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.

He was also the only presidential candidate who publicly published the results of his medical check-up to prove that he was healthy enough  and physically fit to stand the rigours of  being Ghana's president.

Nduom was the only candidate for the presidency in that election year, who publicly published his filed tax returns.

It is not for nothing that the 2016 presidential candidates of the NDC and NPP never talk about either publicly publishing the sources of their respective party's funding, or publicly publishing their assets and those of their spouses.

The reason is simple - the reality is that the two major parties are steeped in the corrupt old-style politics underpinned by kickbacks from vested interests operating from the shadows: which prosper from maintaining our present corrupt and dysfunctional system.

Apparently, Nduom is said to be willing to publicly publish the assets of both himself and his wife, just before the start of his tenure as president in January 2017, and immediately at its end in January 2021. Marvellous news, indeed - as it will be the first time since Ghana gained its independence in 1957 that a leader of our country would have done so: if he actually does so when he becomes president.

That is precisely the type of honest and world-class leader who will end the baleful influence of vested interests in Ghana when elected in December 2016 - and finally bring an end to rampant high-level corruption in Ghana.

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