Saturday, July 4, 2009

Muntaka’s Back Pass, The Referee’s Worst Nightmare

"We need whistleblowers. They keep our institutions honest. From Enron, to Walkerton, to the intelligence failures around 9-11, whistleblowers have made a huge contribution to informing the public and fighting corruption and incompetence"

In narrating the story of creation, a preacher said when God came down to Adam and asked “have you eaten the fruit that I forbade you to eat?” Adam said “the woman that you gave me…” blaming his misconduct on his wife, Eve. When God turned to Eve and asked “what have you done?” Eve‘s response- “it is the serpent..”- blamed her misconduct on the serpent. When the serpent was accused, the poor reptile found no other beast to blame for its action. So has it been with humanity since the days of Adam. And so it was in the days of Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak at the ministry of Youth and Sports in Ghana.

The government’s report on various allegations leveled at the ex minister of youth and sports makes interesting reading. The reports clearly indicted the ex minister on a number of issues but managed to blame the accountant, the chief director or some “mafia group” at the ministry for his misconduct, then declares him exonerated. A minister takes over a ministry and doesn’t apprise himself of procedures and processes at that place before signing documents, drawing money and submitting claims? Mr. E.T Mensah knew what he was saying when he suggested that the ex-minister should have humbled himself to take his paces. This raises issues of competence and once again brings to question some of the president’s appointments. The quest to empower the youth with responsibility does not absolve the appointing authorities of the responsibility to establish competence before making appointments. To be candid, some of the president’s appointees will not make it on the shortlist of candidates for any line management position in most organizations in Ghana. How then do we entrust management of the country to such?

Maybe there is a mafia that the ex-minister was trying to dismantle at the ministry with the hope of saving us money. But we would have lost all the savings on airfares for young secretaries of ranking members in parliament. And the president described this as an error in judgment? Mr. Muntaka Mohammed had clearly compromised his reformist and anti-corruption credentials at the place. The moral undertones of his actions are for his wife and religious instructors to deal with, but the financial implications hurt the nation. Alhaji, you have let down the youth of this nation and the president.

Faced with the embarrassment the young man he reposed his trust in had brought to him, the president went after poor civil servants who reported the minister’s misconduct. This is the reason few people report wrong doings in our society. Many years ago, we witnessed an attack on a shop by armed bandits and my dad warned us not to mention what we witnessed to any soul- do you blame him? A young internal auditor reported irregularities that others have failed to report for years. His reward was a transfer and frustration at his new station. What lesson did he learn? Your guess is as good as mine. Another young man who blew the whistle on irregularities in his company got fired because somebody leaked his identity to his company. ? Is there any wonder people hardly help the police with information in this country? Do you trust that your identity will be kept secret if you go to the police and blow the lid on a crime?

I have heard people questioning the motivation of the accountant in writing the said letter to the president reporting the minister’s indiscretions, but that is neither here nor there. We must encourage Ghanaians in all walks of life to blow the whistle. It is no use passing a whistle blower’s bill whilst hanging the “referee” as a deterrent to others. Did the attorney general and minister for Justice say that Mr. odoom is not a whistle blower because he identified himself as the author of the allegations? Auntie Betty, please hurry up with the legislative process required to wean off the attorney general position from the Justice Ministry. An independent AG will do this nation a lot of Good.

So like Adam and like Eve the government has passed the buck to the civil servants. Like the serpent the civil servants can’t pass it further. Is there a civil servants association? I think those guys should put away their political leanings and fight for their own. Are there anti-corruption organizations in this country? This is one for you.

My little song Mr. President,

Tongues itch to sing

If we let them loose

Our future glows brighter

If we hang the heads

The lesson is clear

Speak no evil.

-Ogyakromian writes.

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