Ayariga, Bagbin and Others

Sat, 20 Jun 2009 Source: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw

Yaw Opare-Asamoa oasamoa@gmail.com

Ghana oo, Ghana!! Would it ever be possible for government ministries, agencies and departments to publicly advertise proposed sales or auctions so that ALL interested persons can avail themselves of the opportunity?? Why is it that politicians and government officials are the only people who always manage to hear about such ‘deals’? If the ministry of Agriculture had to ‘dispose’ of some machinery, what prevented the ministry from informing the rest of us (Ghanaians)? We are Ghanaians too, abi? By the way, weren’t those vehicles and farm implements bought with our money, in the first place?? It seems to me, in Ghana, some people are more Ghanaian than others. Politicians and public officials do believe they are ‘better’ than the rest of us!! How else do we explain this? In Ghana there are the Ayarigas and the Bagbins (who form the political class); then we have the ‘others’ like the Iddrisu Alhassans, the Agyeman Badu Akosahs and the Egbert Faibilles. The people in this group are not in government but they have enough ‘clout’ through their political ‘connections’ to benefit from sale of government ‘property’. Then there is the ‘rest of us’-yes the rest of us. Apparently we do not matter at all except to continue paying taxes so members in the first two groups can continue with their ‘looting’ and ‘fleecing’.

‘Hon.’ Ayariga does not see anything inappropriate with his ‘purchase’ of those tractors at those concessionary terms! And neither does ‘Hon.’ Bagbin. But I believe they know, in their hearts, that the transactions had the appearance of impropriety written all over it. They just don’t care! After all, they are in charge; they have the power and they can do whatever they want. That is the situation in Ghana. We (Ghanaians) have allowed that. As soon as one becomes a member of government, one ‘transforms’ into a different being. Bagbin claims a colleague MP told him about the tractors at the ministry of Agriculture. I bet that MP was no opposition MP! Ayariga, I believe, also got knowledge of this by virtue of his office, right? Sharing the ‘booty’ among the ‘faithfuls’! I have made this point time and again and I maintain the position: the hypocrisy in our society is too much for comfort. Remember the NDC’s argument over the sale of some parcels of land to some ‘functionaries’ of the previous government? Mr. Don Arthur of the Atta Mills Transition Team told the whole world how wrong it was and that those sales would be reviewed. The beneficiaries, on the hand, kept insisting that they followed due process and paid good money for those lands. The NDC countered that the lands could have been undervalued. There is always that possibility whenever government officials ‘sell’ state property to themselves. So I supported the review as a matter of principle. The same questions raised earlier applied in this instance too: why did we not see any advertisement about the proposed sale of those lands? How do we assess the transparency of the process? That is where the problem is; it does not matter whether due process is followed or not?

How long has it been since Don Arthur made those pronouncements? And there is already a scramble to grab ‘property’? These are the very people who have demonized the concept of ‘property-owning’ democracy. “We are not interested in owning property”, they shout at the top of their voices. But we know those who now own ranches with Arabian horses, and mansions amongst others. Public officials are not ‘elected’ to seek their personal gains at the expense of the country (taxpayers). How do we get them to understand this? Recently, ‘Hon.’ Bagbin was all over castigating the former Speaker for his ‘thievery’. Not long after, we found out that he, Bagbin, has been ‘enjoying’ certain facilities not prescribed under any law. He has a generator for his private use at his residence and we (taxpayers) pay for it. I want to know the parliamentary provisions that make something like that legal. He should let us know. Again, when the ex-gratia awards story initially broke, we saw ‘St. Bagbin’ pontificating about his innocence and (ignorance). Later it was proven that he actually knew more than he initially let on. Amidst the uproar against such excesses, Bagbin comes out again with yet another means to fleece the taxpayer-it is time for new cars for MPs, but this time the cars should be provided for free. No loans!! He wants us to provide them with free cars. Did anybody force Bagbin and the others to become parliamentarians? A country as rich as the US, even, does not provide free cars to their members of congress. What is wrong with Bagbin?? These are the apostles of ‘lean government’. They tell us we should live within our means but do they?? All these people parading in the corridors of power with their holier-than-thou attitudes make me mad. I can’t stand such hypocrisy!!

Ayariga says the tractors are for his constituency and would be hired-out at affordable rates/fees. Does that justify the mode of acquisition??? If I acquire some money under questionable conditions and decide to donate that money to charity, does my donation make my initial means of acquisition justified? In ‘Hon.’ Ayariga’s world, the end justifies the means. And he is a lawyer, a former MP and now the spokesman for the President!! Would the President ask for a written statement of defense from his spokesman?? Is the President going to ask ‘Hon.’ Ayariga to step aside whiles National Security looks into this? After all, that was the President’s decision in the case of the ‘honourable’ Minister of Sports. We live to see.

Written and submitted on June 12, 2009

Columnist: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw