Over the past few months, it has become a common phenomenon that Ghanaians measure corruption with the degree of judgment debts that are said to be fraudulently paid over the course of the past few years.
To allay the fears of the people of our country, the president, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama last October, swore in a Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Yaw Appau, as Sole Commissioner of the Commission of Enquiry into Judgment Debts to ascertain the causes of any ordinate payment from public funds and financial losses arising from arbitration awards and negotiated settlements since 1992 and make recommendations to help ensure that the republic does not incur undue financial losses when it does business with private persons or institutions. This move was hailed by many Ghanaians.
The work of the commission so far has again made Ghanaians raised eyebrows about the effectiveness of our public institutions. During the visit of President Obama to Ghana recently, he advised that we build strong institutions to help consolidate our status as the most democratic state in Africa in our time. Most public officials kept repeating this saying but the irony is that our institutions are still exhibiting very questionable behaviours.
The commission adjourned its second sitting on Monday December 17, 2012 due to the failure of officials from both the Auditor General and Solicitor General Departments to provide the requested documents that will assist the commission in its work, to the commission.
The appearance of the Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning before the commission on Tuesday December 18, 2012 also showed that the ministry lacked the necessary information and documents that may help the commission ascertain some facts and clear some doubts. These developments are worrying and one is forced to ask if this is the strong institutions we are building in Ghana.
Ghanaís institutional development process has come of age. Any shortfall in the work of these public institutions cannot be a case of oversight, inexperience or lack of institutional frameworks and logistics. This case of judgment debts is dear to the heart of Ghanaians. They would like to know how their taxes are used.They would like to know whether these payments were legal, appropriate and expedient.
Every Ghanaian is paying attention to the commissionís work. Getting signals of inadequacies at this tender age of the hearings may fill our minds with doubts so all institutions involved must try their possible best to make the process smooth, fast and successful so that we can all breath an air of relief.
Indeed, Ghana has invested in the building of her institutions and we all should make good use of these investments for the progress of our country. We owe Ghana this. I call on all appropriate institutions involved in this investigation to sit up and prepare well before they appear before the commission.
I also call on the commission to make its requests for documents lucid so that nobody could sight an ambiguity from the commissionís summons as an excuse for deliberate or non-deliberate omission of certain vital information required. In fearless honesty, let us make our nation greater and stronger by making our institutions stronger and effective as the days go by. We are keenly watching to see the outcome of this commissionís work.
God bless our homeland Ghana.
Gabriel Edzordzi Agbozo is a poet and a national service person at the Language Centre, the University of Ghana.