It is sad but true, politicians without principles, without morals, without ethics and without an ounce of the fear of God in them, continue to show with fluorescent clarity that they are no more than thieves. This is the class of politicians struggling to justify the most unconscionable “criminal” conduct discovered at the GETFund. What else are you if you justify the sinful diversion of “forced collective charity contributions” to public servants who can afford a “public funded” life of luxury?
It gets even worse as poor blind loyalist party foot-soldiers jump to the defence of those robbing them of a chance of a reasonably dignifying life from an education. And when educated people in a political party join the defence and elect a focus away from the wrongs and breaches of law discovered by the Auditor-General; when they, instead, invite us to vilify the Auditor-General for purported errors in the audit, you can be sure that no further evidence is needed to confirm the dreaded analysis by experts that corruption has been normalised.
Do you still harbour the slightest doubt about the 2019 Afrobarometer finding that 61% – i.e. 6 out of 10 Ghanaians say they won’t report corruption for fear of some form of retaliation and victimization, regardless of the majority verdict that corruption is “somewhat” or “a lot” worse now? Some have actually called Daniel Domelevo and Martin Amidu evil. My prayer, dear God, bless Ghana with many more of such “evil” men who hate corruption and specialise in exposing, naming, shaming and punishing thieves who seek public office to line their pockets at the expense of the poor and our collective socioeconomic development and welfare. Whatever legitimate issue there may be with an aspect of the audit, it never will change the findings or facts:
- That GETFund from 2009 unlawfully and with impunity stopped allocating the Scholarship Secretariat its portion of funds for gifted but needy students.
- That GETFund unlawfully and with impunity usurped the lawful functions of the Scholarship Secretariat by taking over the job of receiving, processing and granting scholarships to gifted but needy students.
- That GETFund while breaking the law with such impunity, did not establish any proper systems, policies and procedures for administering scholarships (2012-2017), a mess present managers claim they are fixing.
- That GETFund, with impunity, breached the object of the trust fund and illegally funded foreign scholarships outside its mandate.
- That GETFund, within the audit period, exceeded its budget allocation by 300%, 100%, and over 60%. I don’t get it! Why or which hands has been compelling managers to give what they don’t have each year from 2012 to present?
By section 2(2)(b) of the GETFund law (Ghana Education Trust Fund Act, 2000 (Act 581)), it is the Scholarship Secretariat (the specialised agency) and not the GETFund Secretariat (the trustee and mere holder and distributor of the tax funds) that must receive, process and grant scholarships. Little wonder only 12 of the over 3000 of the applicants submitted complete documentation to back their applications. 40% of the beneficiaries did not even present proof of having secured admission to a foreign university, and 79% got the money without showing proof they were Ghanaians? The scholarships must be to gifted but needy students, and it must be for studies in local secondary tertiary institutions, not abroad.
By section 2(2)(d), scholarship to train brilliant students to become teachers or for research must be done through the National Council on Tertiary Education NCTE and not by the GETFund itself directly as the audit report reveals.
The section 2(2)(e) is being violently abused by the self-serving non-legal populace interpretation to cloth GETFund with power to directly award foreign scholarships and to spend money capable of training six first degree graduates on a single MP, et al, for three-week conferences on subjects not connected to their expertise.
Yes, by section 2(2)(e), GETFund may, upon requisite consultation and approval, directly support educational activities and programmes like National Science and Maths Quiz. What it cannot do, is to engage in any form of award of scholarship. It does not have power to grant scholarships. It is simple. The known principle of law, the expressio unius est exclusio alterius rule, used in interpreting statute says that the explicit mention of one thing is the deliberate exclusion of another. When one or more things of a class are expressly mentioned others of the same class are excluded. Consequently, once the issue of scholarship is mentioned and set out in 2(2)(b) and 2(2)(d), there is no more discretion on scholarships.
In the operation of the law, there must be certainty or predictability, and that’s why these cannons of interpreting law exist. Let none mislead managers of the fund into thinking they can deal with scholarships. It shouldn’t take a suit to stop the wrong. But why do they want to add this job to their functions instead of allowing those with the expertise and established protocols and systems to deal with scholarships?
Granted section 2(2)(e) was a widow to grant scholarships, why turn it into the door where over 2000 of the over 3000 scholarships were for studies abroad with only 800 local scholarships? Local and foreign scholarships are the job of the Scholarship Secretariat. Just let them!
There is immediate need for an L.I to direct this aspect to avoid the present abuse. It is sad some public office holders prefer law to regulate where common sense and reasonable exercise of judgement ought to prevail.
In meantime, let the law take its course! Disallowances, surcharges must fly and those who supplied false information to the auditors must face criminal sanctions as prescribed in section 33(1) of the Audit Service Act, 2000 (Act 584).
The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 10:23 that “[a]ll things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” That’s my advice to those who are not needy but can’t make up their minds not to seek GETFund funding for themselves or their relations.
Samson Lardy ANYENINI