President Nana Akufo-Addo says government has an obligation to treat the Auditor-General’s Report seriously and to work to retrieve illegally acquired monies from those who would impoverish the citizenry.
Delivering the State of the Nation Thursday, he noted that year in, year out, the nation’s Auditor-General produces a report on the country’s public finances, which is often full of grand cases of corruption in our public services.
“The Auditor-General’s Report on MDA liabilities as at December 31, 2016, makes a truly alarming reading. I make reference to the fact that a staggering amount of GH¢5.4 billion has been identified as constituting fictitious claims.
“In the course of this address, Mr Speaker, the House has heard me struggle to identify a source of funding to build our roads,” the President said.
He continued, “Every day, we hear reports on our radios and televisions of dilapidated classrooms and children who sit on floors at school. Just think of the difference that GH¢5.4 billion would make to the nation’s finances.
“That would certainly be enough to build and furnish hundreds of classrooms and construct the Eastern Corridor roads. Every citizen is affected by acts of corruption, and we should all work to tackle them.”
To this end, President Akufo-Addo noted that the role of OccupyGhana, in increasing awareness of the importance of the work of the Auditor-General, should be recognised.
All corruption allegations investigated
With the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic enjoining all Ghanaians to uphold the principles of Freedom and Justice, Probity and Accountability, and in furtherance of this, the President noted that he has made it publicly known that anyone, who has information about acts of corruption by any of his appointees, should bring it forward, and should be prepared to back it up with evidence, for he will have it investigated.
“So far, every single alleged act of corruption levelled against any of my appointees has been investigated by independent bodies, and, in some cases, by Parliament itself, and the findings made public,” the President said.
He added all the allegations against the Minister-Designate for Energy at his parliamentary confirmation hearings; to that against the CEO of BOST; to those against the two Deputy Chiefs of Staff; to the conflict of interest allegations against the Minister for Finance; and, most recently, to the claims of extortion against the Trade and Industry Minister, have been investigated, and no evidence has been adduced to suggest any act of corruption, conflict of interest or wrongdoing.
“It appears, however, that some are determined to stick to their politically-motivated view that there has been corruption. This, surely, is not helpful. It is important to note that, in my first year of office, despite having a clear parliamentary majority, two separate bi-partisan probes in Parliament have been established to inquire into allegations of corruption, as against zero in recent years, notwithstanding the persistent calls by the then Minority over several allegations,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo, in quoting from the Minister for Information, Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, stated that “no matter how long a log stays under water, it will never become a crocodile.”
Election of MMDCEs
On the proposed creation of new regions, President Akufo-Addo expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the constitutionally-mandated processes so far, and stressing that “I believe this exercise will be a success, especially as it is being undertaken with scrupulous adherence to the teachings of the Constitution in this sensitive area.”
Touching on another ambitious decentralisation exercise, which is the direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives on a partisan basis, President Akufo-Addo noted that “it is a firm manifesto commitment of the New Patriotic Party”, to which he remains committed.
He noted that his discussions with the nation’s political leaders, including the former Presidents of the Republic, convince him that it is a step that must be taken.
Hajia Alima Mahama, Local Government Minister
“The constitutional impediment to this, in Article 55 of the Constitution, an entrenched clause, must, therefore, be removed. To ensure the judicious use of the country’s resources, I propose that the constitutional processes for a Referendum should be initiated in such a manner that the holding of the Referendum will take place at the same time as next year’s District Assembly elections,” he said.
He continued, “If successful, the outcome of the Referendum will mean that the current set of MMDCEs will be the last batch of Chief Executives to be appointed under the current system. I have no doubt that the resourceful Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama, MP for Nalerigu Gambaga, will be able to shepherd this process to a positive conclusion.”