Any politician who claims to be fighting corruption or who expresses the intention to do so outside a marriage of policy and institutional reforms is either inept or a liar.
Fighting corruption is not only about retrieving stolen monies and jailing people; it is mainly about rewinding minds. It involves the creation of offices and organisations, educating people with emphasis on values, prosecution, promoting meritocracy and fairness, systems design or sensible and efficient allocation of powers and responsibilities etc.
The biggest fraud Ghana has perpetrated on itself is the narrow understanding of ‘governance’ as the provision of public or political goods. Yes, that (provision of public/political goods) is what the state exists mainly for. But the ‘state’ as an institution is in this wise a vessel or vehicle; and vessels and vehicles can hardly perform their set functions when not well-assembled.
The failure to keep the state bureaucracy in an optimal form and/or in check, and the simultaneous understanding of governance as being limited to the provision of roads, electricity, schools, hospitals etc. is what is killing us. It is from this that the concept of ‘government by procurement’ ensues. With a politicized civil service or public sector left to its own devices , and ruling governments that concentrate on procuring loans to award contracts for the construction of schools, hospitals, hotels, factories, high transactional costs and over-invoicing, kickbacks become inevitable. Throw in our comatose legislatures and judiciary, and you have a perfect snapshot of the dysfunctional state; the state that exists to provide a legalised mechanism for those who occupy its various offices and functions to extract rents from the populace! The story of the Ghanaian state as primarily an enriching machinery for the educated elite!
And the blessed people that we are, we count the ‘achievements’ of our leaders in terms of the number of roads , schools, hospitals, factories, universities (etc) constructed. But if we knew what is good for us, we would ask our political parties to first put themselves (parties) in order, and also show us how they intend to reform the state to make it fit for purpose. If we can sort out our parties and also fix the state, we may not need to worry about government’s ability to build hospitals, schools, roads… those things get built where the state , governments and political parties are fit for purpose.