Every year Transparency International ranks nations according to the perceptions their citizens and key foreign investors have on corruption, known as Corruption Perception Index (CPI). This means that a country’s position on the index depends on the perception its citizens have on corruption. This doesn’t mean that countries which score high marks do not have corruption in their jurisdictions, but they have very good system to address cases of corruption.
There is a reason we do not perform well in these rankings as a country. There is no proper interface between agencies tasked to fight cases of corruption and the citizens.
Oftentimes, the people are not even aware where they could report when they encounter cases of corruption. Even if they know at all, the system of reporting is so unfriendly that sometimes they may end up being the one facing prosecution. This makes it difficult for Ghanaians to report cases of corruption they see and encounter every day.
In view of this, I suggest that we establish a National Corruption Reporting Centre headed by a National Coordinator/Minister with coordinators in each district in Ghana. These people will be individuals with high moral standard and integrity. The Minister/National Coordinator and his or her coordinators in the various districts will make their numbers and email addresses available to the general public so that one needs not to walk to their offices to report on corruption cases. It will just require a simple text message, email or a call. In Ghana, almost everybody has a phone. This will go hand in hand with massive education from the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) on the need for citizens to report corruption cases to their anti-corruption Minister and Coordinators with a campaign dubbed “Know Your Anti-Corruption Minister and Coordinators”.
I do engage a lot of people and what I realize is that, many are willing to report on corruption cases but they just don’t know how to go about it. Some want to report and remain anonymous. So when these measures are put in place it will make the system of corruption reporting very easy. For instance, there are a lot of households that use electricity and water illegally in so many communities in Ghana. We know them but the system is not there to report on their nefarious activities. I sometime interview even children as young as twelve and thirteen and they know all the drug joints in their communities. I do a follow up on what they tell me, and it goes to confirm their stories. This sometimes makes me wonder what our CIDs and BNIs do in this country.
This national and district corruption reporting centers will ensure that district coordinators receive report on cases of corruption through their emails and text messages, they then engage the senders of those messages secretly and quickly do their own investigations and if prima facie evidence is established, they liaise with appropriate agencies to see to the finality of those cases. These coordinators shall report to the sector minister/national coordinator on the number of corruption cases they have received and those that they are able to work on with the appropriate agencies. After investigations are concluded, the various district coordinators may decide to send a report of the outcome of the investigations to the various petitioners.
The sector minister/national coordinator shall catalogue all these reports from various MMDAs and publish them on the website of the Ministry and also in the National Dailies.
In addition, we can also put in place a yearly national award scheme to award district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies that put in stringent measures in place to effectively fight corruption
This will go a long way to fight corruption and improve our ranking considerably on the Transparency International corruption perception index.
Eric Owusu Darlison
Vice President, Centre for Better Society Advocacy and Research-Africa (CEBSAR- AFRICA)