At the Ghana Bar Association Conference in Cape Coast on September 11, 2023, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo addressed several issues, with the most topical being corruption.
He stated that his “government has undertaken, arguably, the boldest initiative since our nation attained independence, nearly sixty-six (66) years ago, to reform and strengthen the capacity of our institutions to tackle corruption in the public sector.” He emphasized that all allegations of corruption have been independently investigated, and none of the accountability institutions, including the Office of Special Prosecutor, have ever faced pressure from the Executive during their investigations.
The Akufo-Addo government has credited itself as the most committed and effective government in the fight against corruption. According to the President, his government has fought corruption not in words, but in concrete deeds. “We have shunned mere exhortations and showy denunciations of unproved corruption. It has been a holistic approach,” he said.
Yet, the country’s performance on corruption indexes and other studies on corruption do not support the President Akufo-Addo’s claims of having done a good work on fighting corruption.
This article highlights Ghana’s performance on recognised corruption indexes and reports as well as instances where the president’s efforts to rid the country of corruption have been questioned.
Prior to coming to office and in the early stages of his tenure, President Akufo-Addo swore to fight corruption using the “Anas principle” even if it would be at the expense of his seat as president.
Seven years down the line, Akufo-Addo has, contrary to his words, remained silent on the approach.
In March 2021, Fact-Check Ghana’s sister investigative journalism outlet, The Fourth Estate, found that the president failed to talk about corruption for two consecutive State of the Nation Addresses. Akufo-Addo in an almost 13,000-word combined speech from the two addresses did not mention corruption or any related word.
It was the first time in 13 years that a president of Ghana failed to mention corruption or any word associated with it in a State of the Nation Address (SONA).
What do the indexes and studies say?
Afrobarometer is an African-led, non-partisan survey research project that measures citizen attitudes on democracy and governance, the economy, civil society, and other topics in more than 30 African countries.
The study points to an increasing perception of corruption among Ghanaians about the Akufo-Addo-led government since 2017 when the government came into office.
The 2022 Afrobarometer report showed that 77 per cent of Ghanaians perceive the level of corruption to have increased. The fraction was more than double what was recorded in 2017 (36 %) when the Akufo-Addo government came to power.
The 2022 Afrobarometer report also showed that 85% of Ghanaians think the Akufo-Addo-led government is doing very badly or fairly in the fight against corruption. Thus, 8 out of 10 Ghanaians do not believe the incumbent government is doing better in the fight against corruption. The figure has been consistently increasing from 30% in 2017 when the NPP came into office to 57% in 2019. The 2022 score of 85% is the highest hopelessness citizens have had against an incumbent government’s fight against corruption in the last 10 years.
In that same report, more than half (55%) of Ghanaians said there was widespread corruption in the Office of the President, an increase from what was recorded in 2017. The Office of the President was only second to the Police (65%).
Corruption Perception Index
The Corruption Perception (CPI) Index by Transparency International is a recognised and widely used indicator of corruption globally. It serves as a ‘litmus test’ of how citizens perceive the level of corruption in public office annually. The CPI scores and ranks countries on a scale of 0-100 where zero is the highest corruption perception and 100 is no corruption perception. In terms of its ranks, first (1st) is the lowest corruption perception among 180 countries.
Source: Transparency International
In the latest Corruption Perception Index Ghana ranked 72 out of 180 countries with a score of 43 out of 100. Ghana’s score dropped to 40 in 2017, went up marginally to 41 in 2018, and stayed that way in 2019 before climbing marginally to 43 in 2020. The score has stagnated for three years from 2020 to 2022. It is worth stating that, the best CPI score of the Akufo-Addo government is the worst under the John Mahama administration.
Global Corruption Index
The Global Corruption Index (GCI) is another world ranking of corruption produced by Switzerland-based Global Risk Profiles since 2018. The index measures the state of corruption and white-collar crimes in 196 countries and territories around the world based on 42 internationally recognised variables. Country scores are presented on a 0-100 scale, where 0 represents the lowest risk and 100 is the highest risk. In the recent GCI, Ghana ranked 80 out of 196 countries with a score of 43.01, an improvement from its rank in 2020. Ghana was ranked 90th in 2019 and further dropped to 92nd in 2020.
Furthermore, a July report by the Ghana Integrity of Public Services Survey also revealed widespread corruption and waste of public funds. The report concluded that corrupt practices resulted in more than five billion cedis ($346 million) of financial mismanagement, including misapplication and misappropriation of funds, theft, and procurement mismanagement.
This was corroborated by the July 2022 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Corruption in Ghana Survey, which stated that 25 per cent of persons who had contact with a public official in the 12 months prior to the survey reported having been asked to pay a bribe by a public official.
The data from the Afrobarometer report, CPI and other reports cited above do not affirm Akufo-Addo’s claims that his government is doing a great work in tackling corruption.