Paul Adom-Otchere Writes to IMANI President – “More Grease to Elbows”

Dear Franklin,

I am writing to you on two matters, first Imani’s glorious tenth anniversary and the forum on corruption that you held in Accra last week in partnership with the Occupy Ghana Movement

I was impressed to observe that so soon, Imani is ten years old. I am happy to say that whilst you may be ten years, the impact you have made on the socio-politico and economic landscape of our country is already legendry. I am confident that with the drive that you demonstrate, the best is yet to come. I still remember your first home-office in Achimota from where you churned out some of the most well thought out research upon which the newsrooms of our private media heavily relied for news. As Imani, you became an important lunch pad for news organizations within the private media, when we found the ills of governance but were too afraid to self attribute, Imani’s research was always a necessary source to reference the findings, and you Franklin as well as Bright Simmons will always give the interview that sparked the debate and enriched the story to enrich the research and ultimately enhance the governance systems of our country.

On the second matter, may I to urge a broader discussion on the corruption conversation to include but focus on the systems of our society, the super structure of politics and society, the interactions of power and capital accumulation within a neo-patrimonial state as well as the effect of the “most powerful social movement to touch the African continent over the last generation, charismatic Pentecostalism” (Gifford, 2004).


I believe that human actors are like the proverbial amoeba and they take the shape of the society that produces them, so that if we find corruption, especially in the public sector, then more often than not, it is the super structure that has produced it, its not that our human actors are immoral.  

In the preamble to his presentation at the Event, Pastor Otabil mentioned the operation of law as the most important denominator against corruption, he opined that human actors have similar propensity for wrongdoing but that, the operation of law makes the difference. We will like to expand the law bit to include the systems

Our conversation on corruption is a discussion of public sector corruption as opposed to private sector malfeasance. We focus on public sector because that involves state money. And the most prominent manifestation of such public sector corruption is the abuse of public office for the accumulation of capital. Public sector in this regard and within our context includes principal office holders within the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, these are the officials who are ceased with the power to super intend over the affairs of state (under Hobbes social contract) and also disperse public good in the area policy, policy formulation by laws and adjudication of quarrels between the state and individuals and among individuals and institutions.

 Thus our conversation may have to focus on the interactions that produces these human actors, the actual jobs they deliver, the required numbers to deliver the jobs, the remunerations that attach to these jobs, the social and academic qualifications necessary to undertake these sensitive jobs and above all the political super structure that they report.

 Basically, we notice that our political system lacks real accountability. The American political system which we have borrowed, draws its accountability streaks from strong institutions, the British political system draws heavily on accountability by testimony.

 The interactions of power, capital accumulation and the neo patrimonial state that obtains in Africa inevitably creates the big man rule in. (Bayart, The criminalization of the African State, 1999)

 The Big man rule itself may not be inimical to development (as we have seen it happen in Lee Kwan Yiu’s Singapore ) but it must necessarily  be fused with a strong basis for accountability.

 So Franklin, because as an African State, we may be susceptible to big man rule, the consultative assembly shouldn’t have deposited all the executive power of state in an individual as they did in article 57 of the constitution 1992 with very little accountability to the people.


May I suggest that whilst we say all the time that the work of the consultative assembly produces a hybrid constitution by finding a middle ground between the UK and USA models, the truth is that we have gone strictly for a powerful president whilst the streaks of accountability that are to be expressed by parliament and the judiciary have themselves been emasculated by the neo patrimonial state that obtains in Ghana.


Thus, should we look at changing our system to go the parliamentary way of government to create direct accountability as the president will be in parliament and will become answerable on a daily or at least weekly basis to the parliament on every and issue. That system will definitely create discomfort for corruption at the high level as a president will have to offer compulsory testimonial on all matters of corruption whether perceived or real. That system will also speak to president’s political fortunes as well and could make a president work hard to present his or her credentials above board.  I think a real hard look at the political system should engage a lot of our attention at this time. Because we could go to court on this and that, but if the judicial system is responding to the neo-patrimonial state, we may not secure the desired verdict, not because our judges may be bad but because as “amoeba’s”, they may just take the shape of the society and mirror that in their ruling, and what is the sate of our society, it’s a patrimonial state, a place where power is applied for capital accumulation, a place where big man rule thrives in all works of life, a place where a constitution works but is not able to achieve  significant changes in the economic fortunes of our people, and a place where real accountability is over run by systems that only pretend to express it .

 Historically, many of the early African leaders that inherited the British colonial authority, seemed quite uncomfortable with the parliamentary system and most opted to change to an executive presidency (Ghana did in 1960 ) to allow them some freedom to rule. We know the economic and political outcomes of such African countries in contrast to Singapore which maintained that system and had Prime Minister Lee having to always secure re-election on a superior argument and gaining the peoples trust because of his regular compulsory engagement with the parliament that gave accountability true expression.

 Recently, I interviewed foremost Ghanaian businessman, Alhaji Banda who reduced all our country’s difficulties to the political system. His published view of the matter is that the parliamentary system will do us a lot of good.

That is surely not the only point of discussion but I beg to say that lets keep the discussion on the systems, the super structure not so much on the current laws and bad individuals.

I look forward to fully participating in IMANI’s 10th anniversary, Congratulations Sir. As they say, more grease to your elbows.