The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has held its 2nd National Dialogue on Public Accountability with a focus on Abuse of Office in Accra. The dialogue which forms part of the European Union’s Anti-Corruption, Rule of Law and Accountability Programme, ARAP, discussed measures to strengthen and improve public accountability in both the public and private sectors. Abuse of office by state actors was high on the agenda for the discussion. The dialogue is the second in a series of eight dialogues to be facilitated by the NCCE with support from the EU to discuss findings contained in NCCE’s Research Report on “Public Perception on the State of
Corruption, Public Accountability and Environmental Governance in Ghana”.
The Chairman of the NCCE, Ms. Josephine Nkrumah said abuse of office is not seen in the public sector alone but can as well be found in the private sector. She said certain practices have been accepted as norms and have led to mediocrity and the weakening of institutions. She called on the media, Civil Society Organisations, and governance institutions to play key roles in the fight against corruption in Ghana. She acknowledged the European Union (EU), ARAP, and FIIAP for their financial and technical support.
The EU Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs. Diana Acconcia said that upholding Accountability, the Rule of Law, and Human Rights feature prominently in the EU’s development policy worldwide. She also stated that the EU in agreement with the government is focusing on Governance, Public Sector Management, and Accountability.
Panelists for the discussion were the Auditor General, Mr. Daniel. Y. Domelevo, Private Legal Practitioner, Mrs. Clara Beeri Kasser- Tee, Chairman, National Dev. Planning Commission, Prof. Stephen Adei with Samson Lardy Anyenini, a Private Legal Practitioner who served as the moderator.
The Auditor-General, Mr. Daniel. Y. Domelevo in his contribution questioned why the public views the issue of corruption as a perception. According to him, the subject of corruption under an abuse of office is not a perception because everyone has come face to face with the canker. In his view, the enforcement of the good laws in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana would help in the fight against corruption. He was emphatic that corruption is not just local but it is what he describes as an international business. He called on citizens to expose acts of corruption and state actors who abuse their offices and engage in nepotism and cronyism.
A Private Legal Practitioner, Mrs. Clara Beeri Kasser- Tee also said most people are left with no other option than to pay bribes because of the speed at which they need a service. “I’m not surprised bribery is stated as the second-highest form of corruption because you look at the cost of delay and the cost of paying the bribe, and you pay the bribe”. In her view, most of the public sector workers intentionally cause delays so people would pay bribes. She encouraged institutions to create platforms where cases of corruption are reported separately and dealt with duly.
The Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission, Professor Stephen Adei also a panelist, said there should be a better system of punishing acts of corrupt to serve as a deterrent to perpetrators or corrupt officials. This would go a long way to curb corruption and abuse of office. He regretted that governments over the years have deliberately denied and starved an important institution like the National Commission for Civic Education the needed resources and logistics to fulfill its core mandate of civic and public education. He was convinced that if citizens were well informed, educated, and empowered, acts of corruption, bribery and other social vices would be curbed. Let’s resource the NCCE to actively engage citizens on their rights and responsibilities, that’s the way to go.
The dialogue took place at the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also present at the event were NCCE’s Deputy Chairman in charge of Operations, Mr. Samuel Akuamoah, Deputy Chairman, Finance and Administration, Ms. Kathy Addy, Commission Member, Hajara Rufai Mohammed, Officials from EU, ARAP, FIIAP, students, state and private institutions, security personnel, political party representatives, traditional authorities, Civil Society Organisations, Faith-Based Organisations, the media, staff of NCCE and members of the general public. The dialogue is part of the EU Accountability, Rule of Law, and Anti- Corruption Programme, with technical support from FIIAP.