President John Dramani Mahama says he has fought corruption during his tenure more than any President of the country, stressing that increasingly Ghana has done well on the corruption perception index since 2012.
“This is because there is more talk and discussion on corruption because my government is prepared to investigate, expose and sanction corruption.
“In many cases sanctions against corruption were exacted only after governments went out of power. This is the first government that is actually investigating corruption under its tenure and sanctioning people who hold public positions,” he said.
Answering a question on why politicians shied away from dealing with corruption in an interview on Volta Star Radio as part of his “Accounting to the people” tour of the Volta Region on Thursday, President Mahama disagreed that he was part of those politicians who shied away from dealing with corruption.
“I am not a politician who is afraid to talk about corruption; I’m prepared to talk about it every day and I speak about it every day,” he said.
Soft spot for appointees
He also disagreed with the notion that he had a soft spot for his appointees who had been cited for corruption.
“Where evidence of corruption is found, we investigate and we sanction. I don’t know of what incident those references are. I’ve dropped more ministers and dealt more with my appointees than other governments have done,” he said.
According to President Mahama, corruption was not just a perception but a reality which existed and that over the years many people had come across incidents of corruption through either offering bribes to people or demanding from others for one reason or another.
“Perception is the means of measuring corruption because there is no other instrument for measuring it, since the giver and the taker are not willing to talk about it. So by measuring people’s perception, we are able to determine what the level of corruption is.
“This also has its flaws because in a country that is open, has a vibrant media, where people have free expression, the perception of corruption is likely to be higher than a closed society,” he said.
Money in our pockets
On opportunities in the country, President Mahama said the government was undertaking infrastructure development all around the country as a way of creating economic growth.
He, therefore, challenged Ghanaians to take advantage and create wealth for themselves by developing their skills.
He said the government could only improve people’s lives economically if they took advantage of the many opportunities created by the state.
President Mahama said people who said they could not feel the positive effect of the growing economy in their pockets should note that, as a leader, he could not go around the country putting money in the pockets of Ghanaians.
“The thing is that if you say ‘feeling it in your pocket’, it doesn’t mean that the President is going from place to place to count money and give to everybody to put in his pocket. The economy will provide the opportunities, but it is for the people to take advantage of it.
“What the economy does is that it creates opportunities for people and so you would envision that as the economy grows, it throws out natural jobs that you can take advantage of. But if you do not have the skills or the capacity to take advantage of a growing economy, then you will not feel it in your pocket,” he said.
President Mahama said if people did not have skills, then it was not possible for them to get employed and find money in their pockets, if even the economy was growing, saying that was why the Youth Enterprises Support (YES) programme and the Skills Development Fund had been introduced to support skills development in the country.
He revealed that the Skills Development Fund alone had created 93,600 jobs under the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), formerly the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA).
He said YEA was now well situated with all the instruments for accountability to provide young people with the needed skills.
He said many young people were being trained in the agricultural sector, jewellery making and other skills under YEA to enable them to go into the world of work.
For instance, he said at Chindiri where a community SHS was inaugurated last Wednesday, they had set up a police station which was being manned by two policemen and a person from the community security programme under YEA.
He said YEA was currently taking young people for a two-year training programme in community security, health and aqua-culture (shrimp farming) during which trainees would receive allowances.
With the shrimp farming, President Mahama said, the country had moved from 3,000 tonnes of fish to almost 40,000 tonnes.
He said the plan was to increase fish from aqua-culture alone to 100,000 tonnes.
“We are diversifying into coffee. We used to produce coffee before but that has gone down and so I have charged COCOBOD with the responsibility to reintroduce coffee in the places where it was grown,” he said.
He said this year alone COCOBOD was beginning with six million coffee seedlings and it was going to register the coffee farmers and teach them how to grow the produce.