Critical News: To join a corruption cult

Sydney Casely Hayford

Sun, 28 Jul 2013 Source: Sydney Casely-Hayford

Takoradi’s rats trump all I have seen so far in Ghana. Bold, brazen, fearless, they meander through the sewers in the market circle foraging and picking the choice bits as they feed fat on throw-away “tsofi”. Yep, Chicken and turkey “tsofi” is not illegal in Takoradi. It sells all along the roadside from Winneba to T’di and beyond. It is only in Accra we think it is illegally unhealthy and make a big deal of it. For the Takoradi rats it is a delicacy, dare anybody arrest them for partaking.

We have done something right with the Winneba-Cape Coast-Takoradi road. It is smooth and comfortable, maybe too many twists and bends, but it is weathering well and it makes you wonder why we don’t have many more such networks to make business easier. You can do the Accra-Takoradi return trip in a day, takes roughly three hours one way and it is rather safe, with a few strategically placed police barriers and some speed bumps, which everyone ignores as they keep the speed up at between 100-140 km/hour.

I was way up at this speed limit for the journey and enjoyed every minute of it. Don’t we need an Autobahn in Ghana? I was doing 120 and staying ahead of the curve. This BMW shot past, belittled me and left a fleeting fine spray on my shield, made me look like a tentative rookie driver behind the wheel.

When I did catch up with him at “God Loves You” (this great restaurant a few months ago, which has deteriorated so fast the food quality was a major let down), the seventeen-year-old driver could have borrowed his father’s car to sport the giggling four-inch-heeled, twelve-inch-above-the-knee skirted chicks, and I was left with childhood memories that couldn’t trump these Amazons. My only consolation; these are the days of “Sakawa” and cocaine dealing so how can you tell?

But just like Cape Coast from last week, Takoradi is a shambles. Something has been done about traffic control, I understand then ACP Kofi Boakye is now firmly in charge and you can see some discipline on the roads. But the city is a mess. The character of the hillocks and valleys is still very visible and I woke to a morning view outside the hotel window of “bankye”, “kokoo” and “kwadu” trees; and that truly is Takoradi, no oil edifices.

Last week we (the people of Ghana through our President) received a copy of the GYEEDA commission of enquiry. The President decided to keep the copy to himself to have a first read and after a few days, maybe weeks he would let us see what had been written. In the meantime, Joyfm managed to sneak some tidbits, which I could not fathom. The names I read, confused me totally.

I was looking out in particular for Kofi Humado, Rashid Pelpuo and Akua Sena Dansua. All three, as Ministers, signed contracts on behalf of Government, with no visible benefit to the people of Ghana. Example. On 15th August 2011, Youth and Sports Minister Kofi Humado signed a contract under the Youth in Transport Service Provision (Community Motorcycle Project), witnessed by the National Coordinator Abuga Pele, offering Asongtaba Cottage Industry and Exchange Program, (a Roland Agambire company) an interesting four-year deal.

In simple language, the Ministry would recruit, and Asongtaba would run a two-month training course for these youth across the ten regions. On completion, they would supply them with tricycles and parts etc. under hire purchase terms and set them up as independent contractors. Government would pay ghc3,570 per beneficiary but split in two. GHC1,120 as a non-refundable training grant and the balance ghc2,450 as an interest-free refundable loan. Fifty-percent (ghc560) of the non-refundable grant would be disbursed on recruitment of beneficiaries by the Ministry and subsequent enrollment by Asongtaba. The other 50% would be disbursed upon satisfactory certification and completion of training. The Refundable loan is paid when the motorcycles are delivered to the beneficiaries and they are set up.

So, say the Ministry recruits 10,000 youth. Asongtaba collects ghc5.6million. He trains them for two months, certifies them, Ministry sees the certs and attends a graduation ceremony, Asongtaba gets another ghc5.6million. With his ghc11.2million and Government contract, he secures supplier credit for the tricycles. He delivers these to the beneficiaries and picks up his ghc24.5million interest-free loan. He signs the beneficiaries up on the HP scheme at an interest rate in this climate, of say 30% and he walks away with ghc7.35million (24.5x30%), no cash cost to him, all funded by Government. So who benefits from this scheme? GYEEDA is offering tsofi fat on many such schemes, unfettered, unchecked and still in business as we read.

I made a lot of front-page papers this past week, a statement I made about rife corruption at the Presidency. In Siamese-twin fashion with Imani’s Kofi Bentil, and Tarzan Wereko Brobbey urging, we tried to understand the budget deficit and complicity by Government. I am still wondering why we have not called former Finance Minister Kwabena Duffuor to explain what happened in the run up to elections in 2012. If the Financial Accounting rules were strictly followed, the only way the overruns could have happened is if he approved them. Failing that, it must have washed over his head and thus sits firmly with the President’s office and I think we should know.

Pound for pound, our Ghana President is more powerful than the US President. We have given him such unfettered rule and power, that he can stop or encourage any event as he chooses. In his way, he can discourage corruption by not appointing tainted ministers, remove them at will and set up investigations at will, such as the appointment of the Judgment Debt Commissioner (I have lost track of what he is up to), which he did a while back. When a leader with so much power turns a blind eye to the people’s will, he is complicit through inaction.

The week has heard widespread comments by most of us to remove the Mayor of Accra, especially after his single-handed change of the name of the hockey stadium. Government’s intervention through Dr. Bani to reverse Mayor Oko Vanderpuye’s latest burst of arrogance is too late and insignificant. When then almighty Nii Lante Vanderpuye as Government, changed the name of Jubilee House to Flagstaff House, and he stood by when the Mayor again changed Ohene Djan Sports stadium to Accra Sports Stadium, now changed the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium to Atta Mills Stadium, I am wondering whether the Vanderpuyes own Accra and the President.

The late President Mills made Nii Lante Vanderpuye untouchable, and despite all the indications that his namesake Oko is running amok at the Accra Metro Assembly, the most powerful person in the country is quietly condoning the goings-on, mourning “his great mentor”, whose name is gradually becoming synonymous with a cult, supported and promoted by Oko, Nii and Koku “Vanderpuye” Anyidohu.

We reviewed President Mills’ death on the 24th July and resurrected his ascension upwards by Crystal TV’s Djirackor and after naming several streets and monuments after him, a book about his achievements is on the streets full of KVIPs he inaugurated, a cut and paste job from the infamous Green Book released by the NDC Government at one point in a campaign era. That we should now portray the late President as the most “bestest” person ever in Ghana and to tout him as the greatest president ever, is grating at my sense of history.

Mills challenged and lost to become president several times. His period as President of Ghana was not exactly dynamic and I do not remember him terminating any ministerial appointments of significance, except when he sacked Amidu as Attorney General, a dismissal we all now say was the worst termination ever, considering the Citizen Vigilante’s recent triumphs in court and public accolade. All around Mills was the air of corruption and the peace President complicitly carried on, buoyed down with cancer and sacked the biggest anti-corruption crusader of our day.

And the biggest corruption cover-up was by his closest associates who knew he was terminally ill but cloaked him a shroud of perfect health and strength. I am sure Naadu his wife has a lot of stories she can tell if she were bold enough. Let those who want to join this cult and craft a new story, go ahead, but history is sacrosanct and not many a yarn can slant truth. This time we are all living players on the stage of history.

Election petition addresses will be submitted on 30th July and maybe the Bench will ask Counsel for all sides to come back a few days later to give oral presentations. If that happens we can expect that the final decision will be heard closer to the end of August than mid. The options for an outright win or loss are clear in the post-verdict process. The questions buzzing on lips are, will Afari Djan supervise a run-off? If Mahama and his Government have to step down until after re-voting, who will manage the country? Can the Speaker, as the NDC elected leader, but part of the losing Respondents under the Constitution be allowed to govern? Or should it be the Chief Justice? Just thinking M’Luds. Respectfully.

Columnist: Sydney Casely-Hayford