Visa Fraud: Mahama Ayariga, the good omen

Mahama Ayariga Is Good Omen for Visa Fraud MPs

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I don’t know whether hypocrisy is the new cultural norm in Ghana these days or not, else there would be absolutely no reason at all for me to be commenting on the very public expression of shock and anger by the Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, Mr. Malik Kweku Baako, vis-à-vis the leaking of an allegedly confidential letter addressed to Speaker Aaron Michael Oquaye, in which the British High Commissioner to Ghana, Mr. Jon Benjamin, revealed fraudulent visa-acquisition dealings involving some four Ghanaian politicians (See “MPs Visa Fraud: I Am Scandalized, This Is a Disaster – Kweku Baako” Peacefmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 4/27/17). I wish I could also add that it takes an abjectly naïve adult Ghanaian, let alone a cutting-edge and well-informed veteran journalist like Mr. Baako, to feel any genuine and/or credible sense of shock, shame and anger at a practice that is more the perennial norm than the anomaly.

Likewise, it would be equally naïve for anybody to expect the exacting of any tough disciplinary measures, or sanctions, against the three incumbent Members of Parliament involved in the alleged visa fraud. More so, because this comes on the heels of the infamous Ayariga Affair, in which the National Democratic Congress’ Member of Parliament for Bawku-Central, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, for allegedly making up false bribery allegations against Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko and the bi-partisan leadership of the Parliamentary Appointments Committee (PAC), was simply and, perhaps, scandalously charitably, admonished to “Go and sin no more.” It would also be counterproductive for Speaker Oquaye or the Parliamentary Privileges Committee (PPC), or whatever that committee is called these days, to exact any punitive sanctions against Messrs. Richard Acheampong, Joseph Benhazin Dahah and Johnson Kwaku Adu, when these sitting MPs have already been slapped with a hefty 10-year visa ban by the British authorities.

At the worst, what could happen is that these three House members would be denied inclusion on any official delegation to the UK involving members of the House. But, as usual, it was Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, the baby-with-sharp-teeth (my profuse apologies to Chairman Jerry John Rawlings) whose Facebook response to Mr. Benjamin intrigued me the most, if also because it characteristically exhibited the most intemperate level of arrogance. In it, the former Deputy Minister of Education for Tertiary Affairs cynically retorted that the visa fraud allegation against the three sitting House members and their former colleague, Mr. George Boakye, of Asunafo-South, in the Brong-Ahafo Region, had been long known to House members well in advance of High Commissioner Benjamin’s letter (See “We Knew of MPs Engaged in Visa Fraud – Okudzeto Ablakwa” Abusuafmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 4/29/17).

So why are these “Honorable” members of the House huffing and puffing and pretending as if Mr. Benjamin has committed an act of murder? Were these not the same politicians who expressed the moral equivalent of frisson, or orgasm, when Mr. Anas Aremeyaw Anas surreptitiously collaborated with then-President John Dramani Mahama to expose at least a dozen payola-guzzling members of the judiciary? Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa, who has himself been caught in a web of fraudulent dealings in the not-too-distant past, involving his younger sister, now has the temerity to accuse Mr. Benjamin of “Colonial Mentality” when, in reality, it is rather Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa and his cronies and associates who are clearly and shamelessly in morbid denial of their pathological “Afropeanistic” hypocrisy.

In his memo to Speaker Oquaye, all that Mr. Benjamin reportedly did was to healthily remind these veritable parliamentary scam-artists and their morally complicit associates of standard parliamentary and diplomatic protocol vis-à-vis the acquisition and use of diplomatic visas and passports. And our impudent and imprudent parliamentary rogues would have the Ghanaian public and the rest of the world believe that Mr. Benjamin is a demon for calling them out on the imperative need for them to conduct themselves with the sort of dignity befitting and expected of parliamentarians and/or gentlemen of substance. Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa also vindicates Mr. Benjamin by recalling the fact that about 8 years ago, when some 300 (Three-Hundred) British House of Commons Members were brought up on charges of fraudulent expenditures, at least 6 of these members of the august House of the UK parliament went to prison.

In Ghana, if one may rhetorically ask: How many of these MPs would have even been charged, let alone indicted and prosecuted for stiffing the taxpayer?

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York

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