…..Of Mother-Ghana –
Is Our Democracy In Tatters?
Hypocrisy is the most difficult and nerve-racking vice that any man can pursue. It needs an unceasing vigilance and a rare detachment of spirit. It cannot, like adultery or gluttony – be practiced at spare moments. It is a whole time job. W. Somerset Maughan (1874-1965) British Nonelist/Playwrite Is HYPOCRISY, indeed “…a whole time job…” occupation? In the Ghanaian context ala our democratic dispensation, it is YES.
Ever since January 7, 1993, when we decided to thread the path of DEMOCRACY, acts of HYPOCRICY has been the best engagement our politicians have been good at.
In the National Democratic Congress (NDC) rule of January, 1993 to January, 1996, members of the then government initiated themselves in it (hypocrisy). Politicians, functionaries and activists of the then government of the time never ever saw anything wrong with it.
The then opposition which was led by the New Patriotic Party which boycotted the parliamentary election and, therefore, had no say in the Legislative House; yelled from outside against certain policies taken by government. But were such criticisms based on matters of objective analysis of our political developmental goals? Were they too partisanly-shaped and lacked nationalistic openness? And based on that reasoning they never made a criticism that was in the interest of the nation-state Ghana?
In the second parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, the opposition asserted its presence in the processes of the house. However, the acrimonious nature of proceedings in the house, were partisan-based which relegated the national interest to the background.
The incumbent governing party of the NDC at the time saw nothing good of the NPP and the same was coming from their angle.
The NPP cried for POWER and it was finally given them by the good people of Ghana in 2001, via the 2000 elections. The NDC went into opposition. And for eight solid years, Ghanaians saw the quality of debate. It was the first time the NDC as a party – was in opposition. I wondered whether it was the same crop of parliamentarians we had when we were in government.
The dexterity with which both sides carried themselves was so amusing. Intellectual outpours were a daily spectacle – both sides were not lacking. But in all this, were they doing it with the zeal of nationalistic concern, or merely for the parties they belong.
SCANDALS OF OUR TIME
In the life of our new democratic dispensation, a number of scandalous engagements took place and as usual partisan ‘binoculars’ are used to only see things the way we want to see them. The CNCTI loan scam is one, following its heels being the IFC loan failure. As usual it was the then opposition who saw through and discovered the evil in those transactions. Incumbent NPP did not see them.
Scandals involving the menace of illicit drugs (especially COCAINE) are still fresh in the minds of Ghanaians.
Mention ought to be made of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority’s 60 Million Dollar scandal which was alleged to have been contracted by the Authority without parliamentary approval (this issue ends here since I intend taking it up with the Economic and Organized Crime Office). The Tema Metropolitan Refuse Damp scandal is an area that cannot be left out. Need I leave out the Tema Oil Refinery alleged un-accounted-for revenues which were collected as levies to massage its debts? Now to the mother of all SCANDALS which has elicited this write-up. WOYOME-GATE! WOYOME-SAGA! These are alternately used across the Ghanaian media to describe this rather alleged stinking transaction.
However, commentary that has gone into this whole affair, and again, its partisan nature is what has forced me to also make my un-invited intervention. I must state that indeed, I feel very-very disappointed at what is happening to this state called GHANA.
Since the breaking news hit the headlines of the Ghanaian media, nobody has taken a NATIONALISTC position, so far as this scandal of a ROBBERY is concerned. Government/party officials have rather moved to the corner of the party, thereby leaving the government in the cold.
It is however, the party which constitutes the political administration of the government at a given period. The NDC as a party cannot escape blame with regards to this alleged thievery.
Having said so, I may have to ask whether it is only the NDC that can be solely held liable in spite of the almost 60% blame-apportioning based on the fiscal payment of the amount under reference. I am ignoring my NDC membership albeit not very much known, to state this position that any NDC supporter with an appreciation of the alleged facts on the issue will not be sympathizing with all those allededly involved – be they the Woyomes, the Bettys or whoever.
If only we believe in the principles of PROBITY and ACCOUNTABILITY, no sincere NDC member should sacrifice these principles for any alleged crook who would wish to hide under the party’s UMBRELLA to bleed MOTHER-GHANA dead.
As I earlier stressed, I feel distraught at the way we are not looking at this case based on its merit, but from a partisan focus. It will not help us if we go that way because whether we like it or not, there are ‘criminals’ who come into these two major parties with the sole motive of undertaking criminal activities to enrich themselves and nothing else.
If the NPP knew the source of ‘dis-honourable’ Amoateng’s wealth, they may not have hailed him as a philanthropist and accepted him into their fold. But when he was busted in the USA, instead of Ghanaians seeing it as a serious dent on the image of MOTHER-GHANA, we saw him as an NPP member of parliament. The question that ought to be given an answer is whether he was carrying a passport from the ‘Republic of the New Patriotic Party’?
In the heat of the cocaine scandals when the NDC saw the NPP as a party of alleged drug-pushers, the NPP made reference to a Ghanaian diplomat who was busted in Switzerland on a drug-related crime, and deported back to Ghana to face trial.
It was during NDC (I) when the diplomat was arrested. The NPP said he was a diplomat of the NDC and therefore, the genesis of the trade in illicit drugs started during their reign, even with diplomats involved. Again this man was not arrested with a diplomatic passport of the ‘Republic of the National Democratic Congress’. The man served in the Diplomatic Corp of the Republic of Ghana way back before the NDC became a political party. But this is how petty we can be as citizens of a nation-state called – GHANA. THE WOYOME-GATE “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true [face]. Nathaniel Hawthorne. YES! Woyome allegedly wore two, if not multiple faces. But for how long could he sustain the trickery without getting bewildered as to which of them is his true face. With the confidence of an alleged con, he allegedly became the financier of the NPP when the party was in government, alleging same when the NDC came to power.
Unfortunately, he was embraced by both parties, but the NDC government became the victim of his alleged hidden agenda. But the question is how did he exact this huge alleged scandal on us? Were there collaborators and if yes how did they go about it? A good number of commentaries have been done on the issue and it may be enough.
However, one must state that even though the alleged scandal may be emanating from the Kuffuor administration, we have to look at the people who could be held culpable for the payment. One must admit that but for the abrogation of the contract between WATERVILLE HOLDINGS (BVI) LTD and the GOVERNMENT OF GHANA, this murky situation would not have arisen.
The fact is that the Kuffour government initially had the presence of mind to prick itself against the contract termination due to the possibility of a legal battle. This fear of the government is alleged to have been expressed by the then Minister for Education and Sports, Mr. Osafo Marfo. Why the government of the day discarded this legitimate fear and allegedly went ahead to abort the agreement demands answers.
According to the past administration all settlements due WATERVILLE were made via CONSAR and MICHELETTI who in a way partnered the former. One may be forced to ask if the fear of abrogating the contract was because the government of Ghana would incur some avoidable loss of money to the state, why did they go ahead to abrogate and pay WATERVILLE? What was the motivating factor? Was this payment, as against giving the contract of renovating/building new stadia to the Chinese construction firm in any way benefit (save money for) the state? Enough questions to the past administration.
The current government takes the chunk of the blame because what has allegedly happened now cannot be considered to be NEGLIGENCE. If it is, then to me it smacks what I consider to be alleged ‘intentional negligence’. This is so because the then Attorney-General Betty Mould Iddrisu, was so privileged to have been fore-warned when a letter then allegedly written by TETTEH & CO, (a law firm then representing Waterville) to her, officially drawing her attention to the then alleged crawling moves by Woyome and his allies to dupe the state.
The letter dated 20th November, 2009, was in response to an earlier one purportedly written by Alfred Woyome of M-Powapak to the Attorney-General, claiming an amount of 24,361,016.60.
In that communication to the A-G, Waterville stated Mr. Woyome never ever got any contract from the Government of Ghana but that they engaged him for Financial Engineering Services.
It went further to state that it had settled Mr. Woyome, the services he rendered and was therefore, asking government to settle them rather, the amount above and not Woyome. The letter emphasized in part that “…MR. WOYOME’S EMERGENCE IN THE MATTER IS BELATED AND WITH NO LOCUS STANDI. THE PRUPORTED DISCREDIT OF WATERVILLE’S CLAIM BETRAYS A MOTIVE TO SETTLE SCORES FOR MATTERS UNCONCERNED WITH THE CURRENT NEGOTIATION” (my emphasis).
From the tone of the alleged communication under reference, it is my candid opinion that any legal brain (I am very far from being one), reading such a communication from a fellow legal professional will straighten he or herself up to guard against any alleged GARGANTUAN miss-hap. This letter clearly was an enough warning to Betty Mould that something was about getting rotten. Indeed the letter which was allegedly signed by S.K Kwami Tetteh, was a very good attempt at helping the then Attorney-General to stop the then alleged intended FRAUD and ROBBERY. This position is even enforced when the very company (WATERVILLE) which instructed the law firm to write the letter allegedly takes several steps back, giving legitimacy to the claim they had earlier made a caveat. The alleged back-shift position letter was dated 20th April, 2010, in which Waterville now admits it worked with Woyome and his M-POWAPAK, when VAMED ENGINEERING, which earlier bid for the contracts under reference relinquished their interests/rights to them (Waterville, Alfred Woyome and his M-Powapak) This staring question should have come to mind, ‘what is the motivation of this U-TURN’. And I am saying that the pack of legal luminaries at the A-G’s Dept. never had cause to question these murky legal developments. Was it the case of political weight hanging on their necks? And none was NATIONALISTIC enough to resign as a matter of conscience and embark on a crusade to STOP this alleged calamity of a robbery? Where is MOTHER-GHANA’s children drifting?
Readers may agree with me that the Kwame Tetteh’s communication allegedly cautioning the Attorney-General was dated November 20, 2009. That of the Waterville’s change of position to the same Attorney-General is alleged to be dated 20th April, 2010. That is exactly five months after Kwame Tetteh’s letter to the same personality.
The later alleged action by Waterville was enough to have aroused the suspicion of an Attorney-General else the fellow would have no business occupying that office.
From the fore-going, therefore, it is right for one to state that if only the alleged developments preceding the alleged payment leading to the loss, then who caused it? It can be none other than the then Attorney-General. Later developments pertaining to the A-G alleged refusal to go to court when the major players took that option is not only disappointing, but criminally so. It is difficult for one to understand why up till now the former A-G is a free Ghanaian while subordinate culprits are before the law courts. I am advocating her arrest – NOW
POLITICAL MEDIA/DIRTY JOURNALISM
“I hold strongly the view that for journalists to fulfill their mandate truthfully, their reportage and writing should not be jaundiced by the POLITICS of the POLITICIANS but by their own politics for JUSTICE, EQUITY and FREEDOM. Journalists should not see their primary DUTY as one of DEFENDING the ACTIONS of politicians, but rather the WELFARE of the PEOPLE” (my emphasis). Ambassador Kabral Blay-Amihere. “Media and Social Change”. Speech delivered on the 50th Anniversary Lectures of the Ghana Institute of Journalism. That is the view of a professional who has been in the field of the noble profession for decades but not getting tired. His lamentation on the day he delivered the speech under reference could not only be heard, but felt as well. There are times I read the papers, listen to the news and commentaries with the apprehension they carry along with them. Especially with those who call themselves professionals in the profession, one wonders whether they are indeed professionals.
Journalism in Ghana today has been so cheapened to the extent that language build-up by many of them forces one to suspect whether they are indeed products of journalism institutions. Going beyond this is what I call POLITICAL JOURNALISM.
It appears to be the area (political) that has drawn many of our youth into the profession. Not only the youth! Some of the elderly in it have also shifted from the hard, well and disciplined training they went through, to the current “JAUNDICED” journalism His Excellency referred to above.
Journalists in Ghana have set a pace for us albeit not a good pace. Eighty per cent of journalism practiced in Ghana borders on POLITICS. Development-oriented journalism is abhorred. So, journalism is politics – and politics is journalism. Because of our abhorrence for developmental reporting no Ghanaian journalist noticed the noble work Dr. David Abdulai of Sheikina Clinic in the Tamale Metropolis is doing to help the deprived in society. But when the USA government maneuvered and sought him out for the MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AWARD, some public media houses shamelessly gave it very beautiful commentaries.
It is the Ghanaian journalist love for making any news item political that has gradually shaped this beautiful country of a hitherto UNITED Ghana, to become so polarized and at the verge of disintegration.
In 2006, it was this same POLITICO-JOURNALISM that drew the line of bad journalistic reportage when the COCAINE scandals became a daily developmental canker. It was this period that the media divided itself into pro-NPP and pro-NDC.
We suddenly forgot the Ghanaianness in us, but rather the NDCness and the NPPness in us. And all this was cooked and dished out to us by the media. This is how our today’s media is shaping Ghana for the WORSE.
At this stage I must give credit to “THE CHRONICLE” newspaper which reported professionally when the illicit drugs saga came up. Notwithstanding the owner (Nana Kofi Koomson) having affiliation to the NPP which was then in power, and then being blamed for the scandals, the Paper’s ability to go extra miles in bringing out some facts that state institutions kept to their bosoms – never to reveal them – deserves commendation.
In another vein, the same Paper reported on the alleged 60Million Dollar loan scandal 20th May, 2003 in which transaction there was no parliamentary approval. It advocated an investigation to be conducted into it which was never captured by the so-called anti-corruption campaigners. The development went dead, buried and never to surface again. But (Isha la) it will be resurrected.
So, this is how far we have travelled in ‘democratic-political’ journalism, for nothing good can be done without the politics of NDC/NPP. The situation has ended up in part, forcing an academician and a very revered chief who could not hide his misgiving about what the Ghanaian style of journalism has done to Ghana.
The Chief, Nana Kobina Nketia, being a man of considerable humour, said of Ghanaian journalists when delivering a speech at the 16th GJA AWARDS NIGHT, Friday, September 9, 2011 thus: “…Open your mouth and the NDC and NPP journalists will be examining your tongue to see its partisan hues. Sneeze and the particles will be dissected to see its partisan aromah or miasma…” He has said it all! The current scandal ala “THE WOYOMEGATE” is a refresher of the hypocrisy of the politician that has transcended the journalist who must play a good watch-dog role. They have gone explaining and defending what is indefensible.
The NPP media has refused to question why the government at the time went ahead to abrogate the contract when they were conscious of the fact that the Government of Ghana was exposing the country’s purse to an unnecessary fetching by some alleged international crooks.
Nobody is questioning that! All we are interested in is that the NPP did nothing wrong. But there is a genesis to these huge payments made. However, the first payment that was passed by the NPP administration after the abrogation of the contract is subject to questioning. But nobody wants us to thread those lanes. Ghanaians need to wake up. If a Ghanaian politician engages in a criminal act, that person must be seen to be responsible to the commission of that crime. What has party supporters got to do with them? If party faithful has to always go to the aid of alleged nation-wreckers, we would one day collapse as a state. It is not too late. For the POLITICAL SALVATION of MOTHER-GHANA lies on what the INKY and MICROPHONE fraternity can do to transform themselves to the real call and course of their profession. They should reckon the call of the NANA when he pleaded that “While longer hours on radio and loads of ink in the print media are devoted to the politics of insults, the blame game and fault finding, other important areas such health, the plight of the rural communities who drink contaminated water; the unfairness and abuse in our extractive industry, bad roads, environmental degradation, unequal access to social benefits and poor health care, our developing oil industry and quality and volume of local content, among others, have been relegated to the background. (I must commend the Government for awarding a prize for rural reportage)”.
I cannot resist the temptation of a final quotation when he said again on the same platform that “Ya ‘bre! [we’re tired]. Please, please, please, we simply want to be Ghanaians. The media must create and strengthen our consciousness as Ghanaians. How does a Ghanaian bare his mind in a nation engaged in a verbal civil war with itself – with the media serving as the CANONS of SELF-DITRUCTION (my emphasis).
What else can one say, fellow countrymen. We either help ourselves salvaging the only country we have, or perish in the inferno we are setting for ourselves. Unless “a word to the wise” is acted upon, it can never be “ENOUGH”. My advocacy here is – SAVE MOTHER-GHANA – NOW.
By: Camillus Maalneriba-Tia Sakzeesi.