Corruption has rightly become the talk of the town in recent weeks. The President of the Republic, John Dramani Mahama, chiefs, and social commentators have all joined others in the anti-corruption initiative to speak out against the negative impact of corruption on national development.

And to think of it corruption is the bane, not just of Ghana’s development, but a serious canker which largely explains why Africa is so blessed with
natural resources but cursed with poverty because of the greed of a few.

The Afrobarometer report on corruption, released last November, sees no decline in corruption in the 34 African countries surveyed with public
perception of corruption highest for the police, followed by government officials. In East Africa security agencies and the Judiciary are ranked as
the most corrupt.

What is striking in the report is the loss of public confidence in our governments’ ability to fight corruption, with majority of respondents in the survey condemning their governments’ anti-corruption efforts even when since the early 1990s several leaders have made public pledges to fight corruption.

Indeed, Ghana’s President John D. Mahama, like his predecessors, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Evans Atta Mils has made the fight against
corruption one of the indices by which his administration should be judged.

Whilst we should not have any reason to doubt the sincerity of such pledges when they are made, the question that begs answering is whether one can
entirely leave the fight against corruption in the hands of elected governments and bureaucracy?.

The heart of the matter is that whilst public surveys like the “Afrobarometer” project always point to the security agencies and judiciary as high on the corruption index, the real “gargantuan architects of corruption” are in high places and reap where they have not sown in dark places, far from public scrutiny.

Security agencies, the police, custom officers and immigration officers collect their pennies in full public view, at roadblocks and at border posts but the real culprits, those the Nigerian musician calls VAGABONDS IN POWER, use the paper trail, the award and signing of mega contracts, the
construction industry, procurement processes and dark alleys of officialdom to steal millions of dollars which they stash in offshore banks and in
magnificent properties here and abroad.

In the last 20 years of our democracy, many in this category, politicians who came to power with low savings, which would have evaporated in the
campaign period, and no properties to their names, have acquired properties that their known incomes cannot justify.

To ask such people to lead the campaign against corruption is like fighting the whirlwind. It is a mission that cannot yield the desired results, which
means the battle must be for others, whose work can be used by Presidents as the ammunition for their own responsibilities in the eradication of

What this means is that the various institutions of state created independently as watchdog institutions, non-governmental institutions and
the media are the ones who should be leading the crusade, which is what the Public Protector Office in South Africa is currently doing over some $20
million of taxpayers money allegedly spent on security upgrades on the private rural home of President Jacob Zuma.

As expected, Government Ministers and party faithfuls are up in arms against Ms Thali Madonsela, South Africa’s Chief Corruption Buster, appropriately called Public Protector. But she has support among civil society and notably the media who also see the expenditure as ” an abuse of
office and the public purse”.

Ghana, if those in charge are to do their work without fear or favour, has several institutions such as the former Serious Fraud Office, now known as
the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and above all the media to independently, without prompting from government, be a check on corruption.

The passage of the Whistleblowers Act was to aid the crusade but it seems these vital institutions are not up to the task. And yet there are examples from the early days of an institution like CHRAJ under the leadership of Justice Emile Short to show, that this institution could have been a leader in the fight against corruption. Following reports in the media about the acquisition of properties by some Ministers and officials of state, Justice Short went into action and investigated the allegations, a process that put some fear in public officials.

CHRAJ went the extra mile later to probe allegations by the Minority Leader, Alban Bagbin against security upgrades at the private residence of
President J.A. Kufuor and another case against the then Minister of Roads and Highways, Dr. Anane over money transfers to a lady friend.

There have been enough material for CHRAJ in recent times to act but it looks as if CHRAJ is on vacation and therefore not following the courageous
tradition of the past that has the potential to put public officials on the alert.

As far as EOCO is concerned, it is yet to shake off the fears when it was established in 1993 that it could be a tool of politics and not operate
as an independent body. Did EOCO have to wait for a directive from President Mills to investigate the Woyome case? How does EOCO react and
respond when an allegation points to persons in very high places?

Parliament too has a big part to play in the fight against corruption by exercising the greatest vigilance when it ratifies contracts with great
financial implications for the nation and use their powers to prevent the rot before it grows. But the problem with Parliament is that it is so
partisan that it often lacks the will to see things clearly from a national perspective.

The unfolding saga of judgment debts also tells us that the Judiciary has a role to play to ensure that this process does not become a conduit pipe for

But where the buck really starts and stop must be with the media which is enjoined by Article 162(5) ‘…………to uphold the responsibility and
accountability of the Government to the people of Ghana”, a watchdog role which if well prosecuted can help the fight against corruption.

It is the media that must serve as the eyes and ears of the people and wage the crusade. For instance where the Constitution expects public officials
to declare their assets upon assumption of office and at the end of their tenure, it is the eagle eye and reportage of the media that can ensure
that this provision is fulfilled to the letter.

And in a political world where out of solidarity, politicians will, much as they wish to use the stick, fall short and use the carrot to protect and
cover each other, it is the trumpet of the media that can be the wake up call to action.

With very limited resources to undertake investigation and the fear of retribution from powerful forces, one may be asking too much of the media,
but I believe the media with the power it wields must take a pole position in the fight against corruption. They alone can hold all of us accountable.