In an interview with the BBC on the sidelines of the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, UK, President Mahama indicated that although any individual could be susceptible to corruption, it was important for people to put themselves in the position to resist it.
This was what probably compelled the interviewer to ask him directly if he had ever taken bribe.
His response was an emphatic “No, I have never taken bribe!”
However, the President did not state whether he had offered bribe to any individual or organisation previously as suggested by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) which has often accused him of influencing the media and cited a litany of alleged corrupt cases, including the Embraer planes contract.
President Mahama said, “Any human being in the world would have encountered corruption one way or the other, either being offered a bribe or a bribe being demanded from you. What you need to do is to put yourself in a position to resist it.”
Touching on the award of contracts through sole-sourcing, which is the order of the day under his administration, he said “decisions on who gets a contract are not taken by the President; they are done by technical people at the Public Procurement Authority (PPA).”
He also spoke about the National Service officials who are before court for corruption.
Interestingly, the case appears to have stalled, with the allegation that a certain influential woman in the current administration allegedly received a car in the scandal that rocked the nation.
Before leaving for the UK, the President said “the London Summit provides an opportunity to demonstrate once again the measures we have been adopting to strengthen our fight against corruption, combat money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism.”
But former First Lady, who is the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, has a different opinion about President Mahama and his government when it comes to corruption.
Adding her voice to the recent exchanges between Finance Minister Seth Terkper and the vice presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, regarding government’s decision to transfer $250 million out of the $1 billion Eurobond into a private account at United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mrs Rawlings said the Finance Minister’s decision showed that the government was either “not wise, a thief, or both.”
Right to Information Bill
However, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has called on President Mahama to make concrete commitments on the passage of an effective and efficient Right to Information Bill in Ghana to fight corruption.
“Efforts by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Ghana to secure the passage of the Right to Information Bill have proved abortive for more than a decade. Several governments have made promises to put the legislation in place but failed to do so despite their proclaimed commitment to the fight against corruption.
“Ongoing conversations around open contracting and beneficial ownership have brought to the limelight the value of access to information in helping to expose those who make substantial economic gains but are able to hide their identities in the mist of opaque company structures,” a statement issued by the CHRI in Accra said.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu