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Corruption is rife because we ordinary folks embolden those who engage in it


World leaders met in London last week ostensibly to find solutions to a problem that continues to bedevil many nations: corruption. They tackled key corruption problems; corrupt financial flows, corruption in public contracting and corruption in health and sports. The summit focused attention on corruption at high levels of government and tried to spur worldwide action to curtail the practice.

The summit could not have been organized at a better time. Transparency International, the corruption fighting civil society organization reports that 6 billion people live in countries with a serious corruption problem. Corruption is indeed a cancer that eats relentlessly away at the fabric of society.

I don’t begrudge the world leaders; theirs is a herculean task. They have taken on a problem that will be stubbornly hard to defeat. There is no iota of doubt that world leaders including our own President, Mr. John Mahama, are well-intentioned, their goal is noble and bold, but eliminating or minimizing corruption in parts of the world where the rule of law is lax and corruption deeply entrenched, is a tall order.

Corruption is as ancient as time and getting rid of it is a difficult undertaking, one that can be both frustrating and tedious. There will be roadblocks thrown their way by people neck-deep involved in corruption, by individuals who would fight tooth and nail to cling to a practice that fills their bank accounts with ill-gotten wealth and affords them a luxurious lifestyle that is vastly distinct from what we ordinary citizen will ever know.

Every member of society is affected by corruption, from the newborn baby who is deprived of life-saving vaccines at the local hospital to the senior citizen who is denied the bare necessities to live out his/hero golden years.

When public officials feed shamelessly at the public trough, when the policeman takes a bribe to allow an unqualified driver on the road, and the bursar at your local college or high school diverts funds earmarked for students welfare, then we all suffer. When the school block does not get built, and the road linking that inaccessible remotely located village to the nearest town goes unconstructed. we all pay the price.

Viewed more broadly, besides undermining peoples trust in the political system and its leadership, corruption is an obstacle to democracy and makes it more challenging to develop accountable political leadership.

In addition to degrading the environment as laws and regulations are not enforced to hold companies accountable, corruption depletes national wealth as politicians invest scarce public resources in projects that line their pockets rather than benefit communities.

A host of reasons have been advanced for the high levels of corruption we see around us, from poverty to lack of moral fortitude. While all those rationales may be right on target, corruption is rife because we ordinary citizens adore, worship and embolden those who engage in it.

We see their ill-gotten loot as legitimate earnings and when they flaunt their illegal riches by acquiring houses and other assorted properties we are in awe all the while mocking and pouring scorn on those who serve the public righteously and don’t engage in corruption..

Corruption will remain endemic and intractable so long as laws are lax in dealing with it and we ordinary folks continue to be apathetic. Politicians and other corrupt public officials thrive on our indifference and laugh all the way to the bank.





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