Home / Lead / One year of Akufo-Addo government: No signal of positive change in governance  – CDD-Ghana

One year of Akufo-Addo government: No signal of positive change in governance  – CDD-Ghana

The CDD-Ghana has stated categorically that in the one year of the Nana Akufo-Addo New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, there hasn’t been enough signaling or positive change in the way that the country is governed.

The Akufo-Addo NPP government is one year old. But the government that prides itself in the rule of law and even celebrated the 25 years of democracy in Ghana has been cited for promoting lawlessness and entrenching the politicisation of democratic governance.

Appointees of the government have also been cited for not demonstrating adequate sensitivity to the ethics of public office, to appropriate code of conduct for public officers, and they haven’t paid much attention to prohibitions against conflict of interest.

At a one-day public discussion organised by CDD-Ghana Friday January 12, 2018 in Accra to assess the government’s one year in office, the verdict was that while the government has some positives, it has many negatives, and topping the list are lawlessness and politicisation of governance – a situation where the political party in power dominantes in the governance process. While the trend is not new in the Fourth Republic, it has been intensified under the Akufo-Addo NPP government.

Speaking at the discussion, Prof. Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi of CDD-Ghana said: “We note the government’s very weak and anaemic response to and seeming condoning of unlawful actions by militant ruling party insiders. Examples of which we don’t need to cite. All of them mark one of the lowest depths in upholding the rule of law in Ghana’s Fourth Republic.”

Citing other democratic governance shortcomings under the Akufo-Addo government, Prof. Gyimah-Boadi noted the over-bloated government including the large ministerial and other presidential retinue.

“Something that is reflected in the appointment of number of ministers as many as 110 officially as well as the recent threat to appoint five communication officers for cabinet sub-committees,” he said.

The CDD-Ghana also cited the President, Akufo-Addo’s tendency to arrogate to himself the right to serve as judge and lawyer for functionaries, agencies and others in his administration accused of abuse of office, and other offensive conducts.

In general, he observed, the Akufo-Addo NPP appointees have not demonstrated adequate sensitivity to the ethics of public office, to appropriate code of conduct for public officers and they haven’t paid much attention to prohibitions against conflict of interest.

“If they had, we wouldn’t have had the cash-to-seat scandal at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, for example,” he said.

Under the government, he noted that the country continues to suffer offensive public display of power.

“We continue to suffer the irritating and rampant breaches of traffic rules by government and party functionaries from all ranks, driving recklessly, sometimes their V8 four-wheel vehicles and saloon cars featured with sirens and amber lights,” he pointed out.

He noted that some initiatives and government programmes seem to pander to the president’s electoral base and some sections of the president’s party as well as catered to populist sentiments within the population.For instance, the organisation and sponsorship of Christian pilgrimages … and the fast-tracking of the Major Mahama bill.

“How do you pass legislation singling out an individual state official unfairly and brutally victimised and reward that person, when in fact this is something that if we want to do, is best done for any public official who gets caught under those circumstances. Not doing that makes an otherwise well intentioned legislation, one that can only be described as populist and playing to sentiments,” he said.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi also cited the congregation of public officials on a weekday to hold a thanksgiving service for the ruling party’s electoral victory.

“We also want to cite in this connection, the over concentration of key government programmes and initiatives at the presidency. The fact that several initiatives and new ministries have been placed under the presidency adding to the already long list of institutions under the presidency, is something that makes for less transparency in the operations of those institutions, makes for less accountability and makes for economic inefficiency,” he explained.

The CDD-Ghana also cited the President, Akufo-Addo’s tendency to arrogate to himself the right to serve as judge and lawyer for functionaries, agencies and others in his administration accused of abuse of office, and other offensive conducts. 

“Again these are actions that undermine the possibility of objective discovery of facts and proper facts pertaining to these scandals, these allegations and therefore proper sanctions,” he stated.

The CDD-Ghana in its conclusion, stated categorically that in the one year of the Nana Akufo-Addo NPP government, there hasn’t been enough signalling or positive change in the way that the country is governed.

“Baneful practices, such as emphasis on party colour as the key qualification for appointment to public offices and boards, and shielding incumbent party supporters caught in acts of unlawfulness, and indiscipline continue,” Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said.

He indicated however, that until the nomination of the Special Prosecutor, he was of the view that credible action to curb corruption and address other governance challenges lagged behind lofty rhetoric.

Prof. Gyimah-Boadi was however hopeful that all that might change drastically from now on.

“The nomination of Mr Amidu, has rekindled my hope that Nana Akufo-Addo means business when he talks about combating corruption. I say so because of Mr. Amidu’s pedigree, his track records of anti-corruption and public interest litigation, his courage, his independent-mindedness, his tenacity, all the attributes you will need for a job like that,” he noted, adding that “I believe this is also an appointment that has the potential to strike fear within the President’s own party.”

He argued that “the Right to Information bill will deepen transparency, but government after government finds all manner of excuses not to pass it.”

In his presentation, Dr. Kojo Asante, also of the CDD-Ghana spoke about the expectations that the NPP government will deliver its mandate to the people, including ensuring transparency and accountability in government business.

He pointed out that the NPP was expected to fulfill its manifesto promises as well as the requirements imposed on it by the constitution, and act as servants of the people will account to the people frequently.

He indicated that among others, the NPP administration promised to establish the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute certain categories of cases and allegations of corruption and other criminal acts of wrongdoing including those involving violations of the Public Procurement Act and cases involving politically exposed persons.

The NPP also promised to require the Attorney-General to report to Parliament annually, he said, on the potential liability of the state arising out of claims against the state. “This was to reduce the incidents of judgment debts, which have become a problem over the last couple of years,” he said. 

He pointed out that the NPP promised to reform the Public Assets Declaration Act in order to add it to the sanctions regime and also promoting public disclosure.

Dr. Asante stated further that the NPP said it would amend the Criminal Offences Code to make corruption a felony, among others. But he indicated that he didn’t expect all these promises to be met within the first year of the government.

He commended the Minister of Finance for providing disaggregated information on government flagship projects in the budget because that allows for tracking of the projects, including the publishing of the public procurement bulletin.

Additionally, he commended the government for arraigning before court, former public officials implicated in alleged corruption at the National Communication Authority involving the purchase of listening devices by the national security, as well as other positive acts and pronouncements.

The Akufo-Addo government is also continuing a very bad anti-transparency culture in the continuing opacity in the handling of disasters.

He however pointed out that even though the Ghanaian media remains unfettered, the 21-year-old drafter Right to Information Bill is till languishing at the cabinet level and yet to be returned to Parliament.

He argued that “the Right to Information bill will deepen transparency, but government after government finds all manner of excuses not to pass it.”

No government has so far passed any cogent reason for not passing it all these years, he said.

“The Akufo-Addo government is also continuing a very bad anti-transparency culture in the continuing opacity in the handling of disasters,” he stated and gave examples such as the yet to be released Atomic Junction fire gas explosion report, or the Kintampo Waterfalls incident report, adding to the long list of public interest matters where there haven’t been transparency.

“As we continue to wait for the Kumasi fire report, the Circle fire report. In many societies, these kinds of reports lay the ground for reform and for monitoring so that we don’t have some of these things occurring again. So this is a practice that must stop,” he said, urging that the reports will be made available.

Commenting on investigations of the conducts of officials of the previous administration at the Ghana Standards Authority, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the purchase of power barges from AMERI, the Ministry of Health purchase of substandard ambulances and the others – he said there is no transparency and there is confusion as to which investigative body or public official is investigating what and what the status of the cases are. 

He also pointed out that the Criminal Investigation Department, the Economic and Organised Crime Office hardly share any information on matters of significant public interest, and there is no effort to coordinate the sharing of such information, and he urged that the situation ought to change.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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