By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Oct. 12, 2015
The widespread allegation that Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah had used his cabinet position as Ghana’s longest-reigning Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to wantonly expropriate landed property belonging to a Shai Hills family does not surprise me one bit (See “Ningo Land Dispute: Obed Distances Himself” Today Newspaper / Ghanaweb.com 10/6/15). Nearly every one of the Legon faculty members who packed bag and baggage to truck with faux-revolutionary Chairman Jerry John Rawlings was a professorial also-run struggling to make ends meet. None of them was either tenured or had attained the rank of Associate Professor or Full-Professor at the University of Ghana.
You name them, Dr. Kwesi Botchway, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata and Dr. Obed Yao Asamoah. And they were all on the staff of the faculty of Law, which ought to have been named after Dr. J. B. Danquah, the de facto founder of Ghana’s flagship academy and a widely acclaimed philosopher-scholar and foremost constitutional lawyer of his generation. The putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Modern Ghanaian Politics was also a remarkable historian of ancient and postcolonial Ghana. As well, Danquah was the first African to earn the doctorate from any major Western academy in the twentieth century; he was also a notable cultural anthropologist. We have dealt with some aspects of the preceding polymathic qualities of Nana Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye-Danquah, and shall have the chance to do so again in the offing.
Well, Dr. Obed Asamoah has been accused of using a private firm called the Volta Investment Company Limited to seize about 15,000 acres of landed property belonging to the Tei Narteh Boso Buahene family of the Shai Hills district of the Greater-Accra Region. We are told that this scamming of the Tei Narteh Boso Buahene family occurred in 1998, during the last-half of the second “democratically” mandated term of Chairman Rawlings, when the latter’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) government decided on the massive sale of state-owned industries, not a single one of which had been established by Chairman Rawlings and his Provisional/National Democratic Congress (PNDC) Abongo Boys during the 20 protracted years that they, literally, held Ghanaians by our scruffs. The Divestiture Implementation Program (DIP) was sponsored by the NDC in collaboration with the twin Bretton-Wood financial institutions, namely, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
I suppose the preceding was part of the so-called Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), under which the Siamese Washington-based financial institutions loaned the country, by some estimates, between $3-5 billion. Some critics of the Rawlings junta of the so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and the latter’s strategic spinoff, the National Democratic Congress, claim that the greatest revolutionary and/or political achievement of the Rawlings Corporation (RC) was the quartering up and massive giveaway sale of what used to be known as the Ghana Industrial Holdings Corporation (GIHOC), a conglomerate of state-owned factories originally established by the Nkrumah-led Convention People’s Party (CPP) regime. These factories had been intended to kick-start what President Nkrumah envisaged to be Ghana’s version of the Industrial Revolution. Mrs. Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings would be ceded the Nsawam Cannery, located smack on this writer’s ancestral landed property of Nsawam-Adoagyiri. The Rawlingses have also been alleged to have either acquired or established a cocoa-processing plant at Tema, through the use of monetary and/or capital resources belonging to the Ghanaian tax payer.
What is interesting about the Shai Hills Caper involving Dr. Obed Asamoah is the fact that in attempting to distance himself from the alleged mega land heist, for the alleged owners of the land, the Tei Narteh Boso Buahene family/clan, claim that their express permission had not been sought by key operatives of the Volta (Ghana) Investment Company Limited. Neither has the latter firm made any contractually agreed upon rental payments to the legitimate owners of the land. Dr. Obed Asamoah does not present any convincing argument, other than to lamely assert that as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice at the time the said property was summarily expropriated, he could not have had any privately owned company or business enterprise registered in his name.
The preceding assertion, of course, does not answer the question of whether, indeed, Dr. Obed Asamoah either owns or has majority shares in Volta (Ghana) Investment Company Limited. Readers would also do well to fully bear in mind the fact that the former University of Ghana Law School lecturer was either a key operative or influential sympathizer of the Rawlings-led revolutionary juntas that summarily executed some former military rulers accused of having acquired housing loans from some public banking institutions which these junta leaders had failed to defray on schedule. Then also, Mr. Martin Amidu, a former Attorney-General fired by President John Evans Atta-Mills, late, who at the time of scandal recounted here was Dr. Obed Asamoah’s immediate cabinet deputy and the AG’s representative on the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), mandated to sell off or “Donkomize” the GIHOC industries, claims that he quit serving on the DIC “for personal reasons.”
As of this writing, Mr. Amidu, who has constituted himself into a one-man anti-corruption crusader, had yet to explain precisely what he means by his claim of having resigned his berth/seat on the Divestiture Implementation Committee “for personal reasons.” I think in the phrase “for personal reasons” may well lie the smoking gun to the Shai Hills Conundrum. Dr. Obed Asamoah needs to come clean. It is in his best interest and reputation to do so.