President Akufo-Addo’s decision to establish an Office of Special Prosecutor received a major boost yesterday when members of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the country declared support for the initiative.
Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, who spoke on behalf of members of CSOs that paid a courtesy call on the president at the Flagstaff House, said, “We are fully supportive of the idea; we think it’s a great idea and we are happy to see that some moves are underway to get the office established.”
“We get the sense that the coverage; what the law seeks to cover, needs a little bit more articulation of the details of what it is that this ‘special office’ is going to deal with when it comes to corruption involving public officials.
“We believe that government procurement is a key area; it can concentrate on that and concentrate on areas of high financial crimes and others and then leave many of the other areas of corruption for the normal state agencies, law enforcement state agencies, EOCO and the rest so that you don’t overburden this new office,” he emphasized.
He also stressed the belief that a number of reforms and legislations would boost the effectiveness of the office.
Prof Gyimah-Boadi called for the strengthening of the law on public office holders’ assets declaration regime, saying, “We maintain that the declarations need to be made fully public, even though the law as it stands, does not require it.
The CSOs also emphasized the need to make the declarations independently verifiable and expand coverage of the law to include any of those described as ‘politically exposed’ persons.
Prof Gyimah-Boadi averred, “We remain disappointed that there is still delay in getting this law – Right to Information Bill – passed into law.
“We were so hopeful that it was going to be passed in the sixth parliament; we partly understand why it couldn’t be passed,” Prof Gyimah Boadi said, stressing, “We also take your campaign promise to heart that you were going to pass it.”
He expressed worry that seven months down the line, the law had not been passed, neither is it on the legislative calendar.
Prof Gyimah Boadi, who is the Executive Director for the Center for Democratic Development Ghana (CDD-Ghana), raised concerns about what he called ‘the lack of action’ on a couple of allegations of corruption that have been made in the media.
He expressed the belief that there is strong and popular desire to see the president take some actions to investigate the allegations.
They recommended the formulation and communication of government’s plan in dealing with corruption between now and when the Office of Special Prosecutor becomes fully operational.
They also advised the president to appoint a focal person on anti-corruption and good governance at the presidency or within government to liaise with them.
On his part, President Akufo-Addo was hopeful the meeting would take place quarterly or once in every six months during his tenure, to fashion out ideas on how to develop the country.
He expressed grave concern about the fact that 60 years after independence, Ghana as a country is still facing these problems due to poor governance and decision-making.
The president said, “We have an opportunity to build a much stronger, a more durable system of governance which hopefully will translate into also dealing with the issues of poverty in our country, how we can build our economy that generates jobs and allows our people to have hope and build a society where the young Ghanaian can see his future here in Ghana and put his energies, creativity, sense of enterprise in that undertaking.
“I don’t have to agree to anything that you say to me and you don’t have to agree with me either; except there is one difference, I have the authority to carry out my beliefs and my programmes within the context of the mandate that the Ghanaian people gave me on 7th December.”
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent