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Opinions Sun, 31 Oct 2010

Awanwasem – Do as I say not as I do

These days it is not unusual to find politicians with a doggy past crossing the moral carpet to take the role of the righteous, some would say taking the moral high ground and this can be nauseating. It is oil time and every tom dick and harry is talking good oil revenue management, relevant or not. It is like Ghana is just waking up to this phenomenon. Oil exploration had been going on this country for years. But a mix of lack of technical know-how, poor management, misplaced priorities, tribalism, criminality and outright arrogance are some of the evil forces that has drawn the development of our oil resources back.

As a starter I would want to say that I am no political animal so my piece is nothing to do with politics, just the fusions of a concerned citizen. In Ghana there are citizens who are productive, using their energies to grow our cash crops, fish, dig for gold so that the country will have the needed resources to develop and there are those recently to as “pen-armed” robbers who do nothing productive but rob the citizenry dry for their own and their families comfort. How come someone who use to borrow to buy yoko gari for his family can within a relatively short time afford the purchase of a whole cannery at Nsawam. These individual pen-robbers are often quite eccentric, smooth talking and sneaky but devious in their attitude. They would employ violence, murder, threats and intimidation in the race to riches rather than do decent work. They have no shame and flaunt their ill-gotten wealth day and night to the admiration of their many ignorant admirers. A bit like Kwesi Pratt who has never lifted anything economic with his finger yet enjoys all the trappings of an oligarch. Which begs the question why did some people waste time executing the likes of Gen. Acheampong, Afrifa, Utuka, Feli etc? I believe their ghosts are crying out loud for justice, fairness and revenge.

I read recently in the news about an insurance forum organised by Star Assurance Company as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations. It is not the event or the topic of the event that has kept me curious but who spoke at this event. Enter the former Chief executive officer of GNPC and I must also add former chairman of the board of directors of the same government corporation during the 1980s. Those dreadful and painful years for many Ghanaians.

Speaking at the event, Mr Tsatsu Tsikata “observed that if Ghana’s discovery of oil is not properly managed, it will not automatically change the fortunes of the country”.. “If gold has not made us rich over a century, why should we think oil will do it overnight,” Hmmm.

The witty tone and warm characterization that framed the speech sought to present a holy, wise, good intentioned, saintly gloss over the man, his audience, his intentions and truth. The man is now well groomed, filthy rich to the extent he does not know what to do with money. In the western world any former executive officer who is jailed for financial misdemeanor is referred to as an ex-con. And ex-cons do not normally give good advice. It is no use for a thief to steal someone’s property and then turn round to accuse them of mismanaging their affairs. This is double standard and irresponsible speak because that resource which was stolen is no longer available to its rightful owner for proper use.

Let us look back a few years ago during the period when this fine gentleman singlehandedly presided over one of the most corrupt and wasteful regimes at the GNPC and wonder why he did not make such an observation during that time. The many millions that was lost or deliberately wasted could have changed the “fortunes of this dear nation”. It will be helpful if someone can tell us how much money or loans was borrowed in the name of Ghana from countries like Canada, the World Bank, and the USA etc for use in oil exploration by Tsatsu’s GNPC but diverted elsewhere.

This man who run GNPC during the PNDC and NDC years to the ground until the Kuffor election success stopped him in his tracks was no saint as he made it look before, during and after the STAR Assurance speech. He looks smart, articulate, and impressive and delightfully educated but this spooky protagonist with such a CV has rather in my view used his knowledge divergently for evil purposes rather than for the general good it was meant to serve. During those days he arrogated to himself the dual role of both chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer, an action totally inconsistent with the rules of corporate governance in Ghana. No one could question that. With Jato fully behind this folly of a management system, he looted at his pleasure. Misapplied and wasted on an elephant scale critical resources which when putting to good use then would have solved half of the problems he is now predicting will befall the country if the oil resources are not managed properly. He purchased useless oil rigs from Brazil and other places and other expensive equipment which GNPC could not use or which was of little use in terms of function that they became standing white elephants. He Ewenised the corporation and behaved like a half-human, half-god supremely divine, all because of the quest to acquire illegally enough money to live on for the rest of his life. Then I wonder why a man who has no family as in children and proper wife would embark on such a looting spree to the disadvantage of a whole country. We know he contributed to running the national budget down, contracted huge loans which were wasted and also invested the little that was left in useless ventures like salt production, a complete deviation from what GNPC was supposed to be doing. We know much of the money was channeled to financing the (P)NDC party. By the time he left the corporation in tatters, he had laid down the foundation for becoming a major player in the Ghana oil business should God shower his blessings on our oil opportunities. I understand he recently made 5 million dollars just for consulting. Wow!!!

In fact this little man had built a sphere of influence and mystery that could only be surpassed by that of the late Kwame Nkrumah until the NPP government penetrated his artificial fences. Even when he was jailed, this man single handedly financed the Atta Mills election campaign from behind bars at Nsawam, which seems to suggest to me that he kept a lot of money away. He is such a pretender that whilst in jail he pretended occasionally like the Libyan Abu Magrahi to be dying from the respiratory condition asthma which has all but suddenly disappeared since the NDC came to power.

Coincidentally his reign at GNPC was the worse years in the lives of m any Ghanaians, a period that sought to ingrain and institutionalize the culture of silence financed with state funds through his GNPC. Then there was the perpetuation of murder, violence, use of force to take property both belonging to state and private individuals. Please ask this man how much of state land he appropriated to himself and his cronies at Sakumono, Ofankor etc. This ideological bull dog and his siblings show so much appetite for violence and intimidation in the shadows that many disappeared needlessly. They loved to reap where they had never sown and that is why he never opted for political or some will say ministerial office, preferring to stay in the murky shadows. I know this man as a camouflaged and sleek opportunist who has so much hatred for anything democratic, Akan and progressive. If it is not illegal money making and NDC it serves no purpose in this man’s kitchen. An ethnocentric, vicious tribalist who is not ashamed to practice his prejudices.

If he was an Ashanti or Akan general during the time Acheampong and co were executed, his wanton wastage and pilfering at GNPC would have caused him to be executed first and several times but Jato will not do that to his brother so he goes scot free and bold to preach probity and good management. The world is not a fair place.

Anytime this economic Suarez preaches his righteousness, uprightedness and morally succulent, do-gooder speeches, let someone remind him to go screw himself because Ghana will not make progress with its oil find unless we properly investigate the waste and appalling management practices and pilfering that went on under his watch and currently goes on in our institutions as GNPC. Please let the saints and those without stolen money or innocent blood on their hands do the preaching.

Allan Joseph
Columnist: Joseph, Allen