Opinion: Taxi Driver on Public Payroll Is Not News but Flog Him, Nonetheless – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

We are told that the incident happened in Cape Coast, capital of the Central Region. But, of course, it could have happened anywhere in the country because the problem is thoroughly systemic and has been around ever since anybody can remember. I am talking about the taxi driver whose name was recently discovered to be on the government’s payroll as an active civil service employee, for doing absolutely no work at all. It is absolutely no news at all; we call such freeloaders “ghost workers.” The reported routine in the past was for some regular employees on the government’s payroll who wanted to make extra income, more than they contractually deserved, to brazenly and criminally use the names of deceased employees to cash in for absolutely no commensurate extra professional investment.

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There are two angles to this news report that I am most interested in and want to explore or critically examine, namely, the fact that the alleged no-show cabbie had used a fake certificate to get himself listed on the public payroll. What this means is that somebody in either the human resources department of the sector of the civil service involved had been literally snoozing on the job, or they had actively colluded with the fake employee to divvy up the loot. If that is really the case, then the abettor or collaborator ought to bear a greater brunt of whatever disciplinary measures may be exacted on these culprits. The internal auditors of the sector or department of the civil or public service where this criminal act of theft occurred ought to be equally held responsible. Obviously, the problem at stake here is an abject lack of civic responsibility and/or patriotism, a pathological situation whereby the actors involved well appear to have envisaged the civil and/or public service as an alien quarry to be voraciously milked.

Perhaps this story piqued my writerly interest because I just returned from a trip to both the Elmina and Cape Coast castles. It was not my maiden trip to the Central Region, but it was my maiden trip to both the historic towns of Cape Coast and Elmina. But, of course, it is not the least bit flattering when that history is primarily externally oriented and has to do with the protracted exploitation, denigration and dehumanization of the proverbial African personality. It can be at once very dispiriting and psychologically draining. I don’t know what my two little men-sons made from this most historically significant trip, but I hope that they learned something very profound from this harrowing experience. Personally, I felt implacably violated even though the experience itself was very instructive, if also because as a teacher of global African history and culture, I really needed to embark on this trip to make myself feel something palpably real about a subject that I have been teaching and writing about for more than 30 years.

But I did not the least bit feel bitter about the eternally depraved human condition. You see, it is such universal act of human depravity that would make a cab driver think and believe that they have the inalienable right to scam the rest of us humans and get the help of other humans to unconscionably carry through with such inexcusably predatory act of daylight robbery. It is a veritable act of robbery because it does not invest anything positive or redeeming in exchange for the loot. At least in the much maligned and much cited case of Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, there was a cross-party and democratic aspect to the loot. Which was essentially why the leaders of the political party that Mr. Woyome was widely regarded to have been a major financier of, to wit, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), have never been seriously interested to have their cash cow return his loot to our national treasury, where it really belongs.

The reporter of the story being discussed says that this criminal sponging on the hardworking Ghanaian civil and public servant has been going on for quite some time now. If this is truly the case, then, of course, it bears getting inexorably smack to the bottom of the matter. Which means that we need to know precisely how long this racket has been going on, so that we may be able to make the most apt judgment call, in terms of which leaders of the two major political parties to apportion blame, and then let the eligible Ghanaian voter decide who best deserves to be vested with the sovereign mandate and trust of the people. But what I wanted to add more than anything else is that this ungodly act of extortion may not be the only one that our anonymous cabbie might have either sprung on the Ghanaian taxpayer or actively participated in. like divorce, as those most expert at it would tell you, once you get the hang of it, it unstoppably becomes second nature.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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