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Opinions Sat, 19 Feb 2011

Asiedu-Nketia Must Be Removed From Bui Board And Prosecuted!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

On February 15, 2011, a news article appeared in the Daily Guide captioned “Kufuor Dares Asiedu-Nketia,” in which the General-Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) was alleged to be attempting to blackmail former President John Agyekum-Kufuor into public silence on the question of the Bui Dam Project (BDP).

The aforesaid report quoted Mr. Asiedu-Nketia to be claiming that Mr. Kufuor deliberately and deviously misled Ghanaians by pontifically announcing funding availability for both the construction of the Bui Dam proper and a proposed Bui City. And here must be recalled the fact of the Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party government having initialed a financial agreement to the humongous tune of $ 622 million with the Chinese government in 2007, out of which latter sum a reported $ 60 million was to spent on the Bui Dam itself, with the remainder going into the construction a Bui City.

In essence, what the NDC General-Secretary is now claiming is that no such funding exists and that as a result of Mr. Kufuor’s initial announcement on the BDP, the NDC government had been unduly saddled with public-image difficulties (See “Asiedu-Nketia Admits Selling Blocks To Bui Contractors But Rejects Conflict Of Interest Allegations” MyJoyOnline.com 2/17/11).

In the Daily Guide report, Mr. Asiedu-Nketia, who also sits on the Management Board/Board of Directors of the Bui Dam Project, is threatening to haul Mr. Kufuor before Parliament and the Ghanaian public at large, in order for the former president to sheepishly explain himself. The implication here, of course, is that somehow, Mr. Kufuor has not leveled up with the people, even while he continues to publicly indulge himself in a manner that is flagrantly incompatible with the reality of his governance record.

Well, if the foregoing implicitly, or even obliquely, appears to portray Mr. Asiedu-Nketia as a man with something to hide, the reader may not be far off the mark. For right now, Ghanaians are being told that even while he sits on the Bui Dam Project’s Board of Directors, the General-Secretary of the NDC has also constituted himself into a concrete-block manufacturing contractor who has been supplying legitimately engaged and registered private contractors on the BDP with blocks at prices that are considerably higher than the normal market prices. Mr. Asiedu-Nketia has himself openly admitted to both selling concrete blocks to these private contractors whose services have been legitimately engaged by the Government, as well as to the charge of selling concrete blocks at prices far higher than regular market prices. His rather lame answer to the latter charge is that, somehow, concrete blocks produced by Mr. Asiedu-Nketia’s factory is of significantly higher quality than those of his competitors.

If the preceding contains any iota of validity, and we have no reason to believe otherwise, then two serious problems crop up here. First, there is a glaring conflict of interest for Mr. Asiedu-Nketia to have constituted himself into a secondary and illegitimate front-line contractor to legitimately hired and registered contractors of the Bui Dam Project while serving on the Board of Directors of the BDP at the same time. In all likelihood, the chief NDC scribe used his considerable political influence to get these legitimately hired and registered private contractors to almost exclusively use Mr. Asiedu-Nketia’s factory as their major supply source.

If so, then there also appears to be what might be aptly termed as “undue influence peddling,” a legal infraction, or criminal offence, that is even more serious than the “conflict of interest” allegation. Still, even more serious is Mr. Asiedu-Nketia’s admission of selling concrete blocks to Government contractors far over and above the going market prices. This aspect of his alleged racketeering immediately brings up the issue of deliberately “causing financial loss to the State.”

What in turn makes the Asiedu-Nketia racket even more serious is the fact that the NDC chief scribe appears to have willfully and deliberately created illegal “Middle-Men” out of legitimately hired and registered private contractors, thereby causing constructional cost inflation to both the central Government and the taxpaying Ghanaian public at large. If this latter act does not constitute a “first-class felony,” an unpardonable crime deserving of the most severe punishment, short of a capital penalty, then we don’t know what else it is.

In sum, it is almost exactly as if Mr. Asiedu-Nketia conspired with these legitimately engaged private contractors to overthrow the Government. If this was, indeed, not the intention of the NDC scribe, then, perhaps, Mr. Asiedu-Nketia had better check himself into a psychiatric facility for immediate examination and treatment.

As for his rather lame-brained and downright vacuous riposte that he deliberately priced his products far above the going market rates because his concrete blocks were, somehow, of higher quality than those of his competitors, we would rather advise Mr. Asiedu-Nketia to leave such specialized determination to the personnel of the Ghana Standards Board.

For now, all we can do is make a major campaign issue out of Mr. Asiedu-Nketia, until and/or unless he is promptly fired from his position on the Management Board/Board of Directors of the Bui Dam Project, as well as his post as General-Secretary of the National Democratic Congress, and then made to face the full musical decibel of the law. Needless to say, this kind of seditious greed has no place in Ghanaian democracy. “Tarkwa-Atta,” over to you!

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame