Bolgatanga, May 18, GNA - Participants at a policy dialogue forum, organized by SEND-Ghana, an advocacy NGO in the Bolgatanga Municipal, have cited lack of public education as one of the major factors accounting for corruption in the country.
The Policy Dialogue forum disseminated the findings of a Survey Report on Knowledge, Perception and Experiences of Corruption in the Bolgatanga Municipal.
The Survey Report forms part of the Accountable Democratic Institutions and Systems Strengthening (ADISS) project being implemented by the Ghana Integrity Initiative Consortium, comprising SEND-Ghana , Ghana Integrity Initiative(GII) and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) with funding from the United States Agency for International Development(USAID) in 50 Districts/Municipals across the country.
The stakeholders were senior staff from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Police, the National Commission for Civic Education, representatives of political parties, the District Assembly, Persons with Disability, Civil Society Organizations and traditional and religious leaders.
They said there is huge information and knowledge gap among many citizens on fighting corruption in the society and many people who were entrusted with responsibilities to discharge services to the people exploited them especially when they did not know or insist on their rights.
Another major issue identified at the forum was that many citizens did not know the appropriate quarters to report- on issues relating to corrupt practices.
Mr Augustus Atibilla, a Senior Principal Investigator of CHRAJ, said lack of knowledge and ignorance constituted a major challenge to corruption.
He called for an intensive public education to empower the citizens to know their rights and responsibilities in accessing public services.
Chief Inspector Adnan Mohammed of the Bolgatanga Municipal Police Command, cited instances where some citizens were made to pay money to some police officers in order to seek police bail which could have been avoided if the people knew the right thing to do.
Mr Mawule Agbenu, a Civic Education Officer of the NCCE, called on citizens to do what was expected of them so as to avoid paying bribes.
In a bid to help fight corruption, the stakeholders pledged to undertake intensive public education efforts to educate the citizens on their rights and responsibilities.
Mr Gregory Tiigah, a Senior Programme Officer of SEND-Ghana, said the project which is in its third year, sought to renew and build upon on-going efforts and to also increase the capacities of anti-corruption CSOs.
He said the objective of the Policy Dialogue was to share the findings of the survey report with the stakeholders, elicit their views and commitments on how to address issues raised in the report as well as develop an appropriate action plan.
Whilst majority of the respondents in the Municipality identified bribery, fraud, nepotism, favouritism, extortion, conflict of interest and illegal contribution as forms of corruption, three- quarters of the respondents did not see facilitation fees which people pay to public service providers to facilitate their work as a corrupt practice.