Waving a gold sword – a symbol of Ghana’s presidency – the new president came out swinging against years of debilitating corruption.
“We must restore integrity in public life,” President Nana Akufo-Addo thundered at his swearing in ceremony last January. “State coffers are not spoils for the party that wins an election, but resources for the country’s social and economic development.”
Nine months later, the unpleasant stench of corruption is swirling around the presidency after it was revealed that highly-overpriced garbage contracts to the tune of $74 million were okayed by government officials.
An investigation by the media group Joy News reported that municipalities across the country were struggling with a heavy burden of debt after being “forced” to sign a waste landfills management contract with the Jospong Group and its subsidiary, Waste Landfills Limited – a major corporate player with tentacles in over 40 operations including building and construction, publishing and printing, ICT, mining and quarrying, oil and gas, to name a few.
An on-sight inspection at several sites by Joy News found that garbage was being burned although thousands were being paid to “manage it”.
Disappointment at this latest revelation of government mismanagement was expressed by Lolan Ekow Sagoe-Moses of the CitizenGhana Movement, an advocacy group that focuses on accountability and good governance.
“It has become clear that not much has changed,” he wrote in a recent New York Times opinion piece after President Akufo-Addo’s move to nominate 110 new ministers of state infuriated voters.
Corruption is robbing the country of huge sums of money while many people are suffering from injustice of one kind or another, declared Mr Bright Sowu, at a recent forum of the Ghana Anti Corruption Coalition sponsored by USAID.
Director Joseph Siew Agyepoing of the Jospong Group of companies has vigorously denied the Joy News findings of inflated contracts, calling them “grossly misleading and unfortunate to say the least” and demanding a retraction.
But the clamor against corruption is getting stronger. Corruption has gone beyond bribery, embezzlement and fraud, said Mr. Sowu, adding that his and other civil society organizations would be pressing national authorities for reforms.
Kofi Bentil of the Imani Centre for Policy and Education called for an inquiry. “The minister who lobbied for the Jospong contract that may have been bloated by at least two-fold must not be left off the hook”, he said.