By Maxwell Nkansah
Ace investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni has observed that the nation could be plunged into chaos if immediate measures are not put in place to tame the rising corruption. “Corruption has put the gear of our development on the reverse,” he said
“It has hurt and continues to threaten the survival of our democratic experiment and will one day set this country ablaze as has been the case in the past if we don’t take it.”
He made this observation on Thursday, October 29 when he addressed the 2020 Baah-Wiredu Memorial Lectures in Accra.
The programed was themed: ‘protecting the Public Purse: The Media & Fighting Corruption in the 4th Republic of Ghana’.
Chairperson, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo; the Chief Policy Analyst at the Ghana Institute for Public Policy Options, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobbey; distinguished audience, ladies and gentlemen. When Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor was sworn into office as the second president of the Fourth Republic in 2001, I was busy preparing for my Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in Kete-Krachi. I was still in journalism school when he left office in 2009. For this reason, I did not have a close interaction with that administration and its officials.
However, my internship with Ghana Television in 2007 gave me the opportunity to cover a few official assignments involving top officials such as ministers of state. It was one of such assignments that left me with the first of two most enduring memories of the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, who was Ghana’s Minister of Finance and Economic Planning at the time.
It was a programme at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel. After the function, Mr. Baah-Wiredu spent time going around to share pleasantries with the journalists as if they were his colleagues. For me, it was rare. Journalists often go to the top officials, but in his case, the reverse was the case.
The second incident that had him etched in my mind for years happened at the outer car park of GBC when he came there one blistering afternoon to wait for some journalists with whom he was travelling to Tema for a programme.
I had helped my senior colleagues to the car park and the minister came out of his saloon car to welcome them before takeoff.
In our part of the world where a call to serve in political office and the title honourable appear to confer supernatural status on most people, the likes of Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu of the Kufuor era, Dr Victor Bampoe of the John Mahama era and Dr Yaw Osei Adu Twum of the Akufo-Addo administration are shining examples people who serve in high political offices without parting ways with decency and respect for the people they serve.
I therefore feel highly privileged to be delivering a lecture that celebrates the memory of Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, a man many say, served with integrity. I’m grateful to the Ghana Institute for Public Policy Options for this honour.
Madam Chairperson, I was less than eight years old when the Fourth Republic began in 1993. I have only been a journalist for ten out of the almost 28 years of the Fourth Republic. My first reaction upon receipt of the invitation to deliver this lecture was, therefore, to question my own capacity for such a huge task.
I was however encouraged by the wisdom of our elders who say that the size of an animal does not matter; what matters is the taste of its soup.
I have uncovered some of the biggest corruption scandals in the Fourth Republic involving some of the most powerful people and businesses. What I am about to share with you, therefore, will not only be what I have read or heard but also what I have done, lived, and experienced in the Ghanaian media’s fight against corruption.