– Prof. E. Gyimah-Boadi
The ongoing public dispute between the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) and Labianca Company Limited (‘Labianca’) raises a number of troubling questions about the state of governance in Ghana today. The dispute is over questionable dealings between Labianca and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority. The Chief Executive of Labianca is Ms. Eunice Jacqueline Buah Asomah-Hinneh, who happens to be a member of the Council of State.
Firstly, should the President appoint an individual to serve on the board of a public agency with whom that individual has private business dealings? And if so, doesn’t that set that person up for conflict of interest?
Secondly, is it appropriate for the President to appoint a member of the Council of State to a state agency board? Was there an objectively compelling public interest-related reason for the President to make such an appointment?
And finally, was the appointment run by the Council of State? And if the answer is yes, doesn’t the Council of State’s approval of the appointment of one of its members to a state agency board position smack of institutional self-dealing on the part of Council of State?
In conclusion, it is obvious that the entire sordid episode speaks specifically to the entrenchment of incumbent leaders and political elite capture of Ghana; and generally, to the alarming decline in governance standards in our 4th Republic.
Therefore, as a recommendation, this unfortunate event highlights the urgent need for an ethics czar at the Presidency, Executive Branch, Council of State, and other important decision-making and public resource allocation agencies and institutions.
Professor E. Gyimah-Boadi is co-founder and former Executive Director of CDD-Ghana
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