Bribery and Corruption together is a social problem that has come to stay with us. It is a negative phenomenon and impinges on the conscience of many because of its debilitating effects on development. Bribery and corruption have been cited as the major reason for the overthrow of governments both military and civilian since independence. The Anin Commission appointed by the Kutu Achaempong led National Liberation Council in 1975 defined bribery and corruption as the giving and receiving of a gift or attempts to extort a gift or a valuation consideration whether cash or kind with the object of influencing a person in a position of trust to act in a way favorable to the interest of the giver. Persons in positions of trust act according to set of rules either explicitly stated or understood, so if in the course of exercising such powers any person attempts to influence their conduct with gifts either in cash or kind such a person is indulging in bribery since the intent is to corrupt the official. The Anin Commission further revealed that if the person holding the position of trust demand a gift from possible beneficiaries in order to favor them before performing such functions, the trustee is clearly corrupt. Why should one know someone or have a link with a big man in order to get what one rightfully deserves. Sociologically, bribery and corruption are not synonymous terms. Bribery is narrower, more direct and less subtle.
In fact there cannot be bribe givers without bribe takers, hence the assertion that the giver is as guilty as the receiver. Corruption can and frequently does exist even when there are no personal tempers or guilty confederates. In the assertion of Nye (1967) the use of reward to pervert the judgment of a person in a position of trust also constitutes bribery. Empirically if someone in a high position agrees to help a friend or relative of another person in an equally high position with the hope of reciprocity, that person is corrupt. Whichever way one looks at the phenomenon, bribery is wrong whether it results in the bending of rules or outright violation. The issue of bribery and corruption is so serious that in most organizations the bureaucratic principle which requires the impersonality of inter-personal relation also known as ‘Sine Ire Et Studio’ in Latin meaning, an act without ill-will, is being violated. The principle of first come first serve has no prominence anymore in many places. It is common knowledge that in some organizations today promotions and selection are no longer the preserve of technical competence due to bribery and corruption. Sadly the canker has led to the situation where in some institutions less educated, low ranked in hierarchy sometimes get comparatively higher remuneration than more qualified and higher ranked seniors. The belief that one needs to pay huge sums of money or have a link before one can get a job has saturated the minds of many young graduates seeking for jobs and rightfully so. As for what some bosses do to our young ladies before offering them jobs, only God and the principal actors know. Admittedly many organizations have square pegs in round holes and the output is low productivity, mediocrity and waste of public resources. Why on earth should we have ghost names on our payrolls? Why should one lobby before getting an appointment? Or why should it take some officials over six months and sometimes years to process documents for payment of newly enrolled nurses or appointed teachers when people are being paid to do that as their job description. The fight against bribery and corruption must therefore be taken more seriously bearing in mind that until the root causes are identified and nipped in the bud, we may only be joking. The fight must tackle both the precipitating and perpetuating factors squarely.
The socialization of Ghanaians which make us feel and believe that we have a prescriptive or even a God-given right to depend on brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles and other relatives for all kinds of help play a role in corruption and must be given a second look . Also supervisors of administrative controls and the suppression of moral courage in the name of preserving good social relations should be reconsidered. Religious leaders must intensify the crusade against the pervasive acquisition on the get rich quick syndrome by first discouraging expensive funerals and marriages. Bribery and corruption has the potential of making our nation unattractive to visitors. It kills many psychologically and widens the social class gap making the richer ever richer and the poor ever poorer. Bribe givers and takers as well as those who engage in all sorts of corrupt acts must the reminded that no condition is permanent. They may succeed today but judgment surely awaits us all. A word to the wise, we have long been told is enough.
BY GEORGE ASEKRE OF GBC, RADIO NEWSROOM.