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Greedy Bastards and Bootlickers. (Part 2)

Thu, 17 Dec 2009 Source: Damptey, Daniel Danquah

Shakespeare wrote that:”There is no art to find the minds construction in the face”. Just yesterday, the attitude of someone I had trusted as a loyal ally has baffled not only me, but many Ghanaians. Like Duncan in Macbeth, this person spoken of here was “ a Gentleman in whom I built an absolute trust”

Sometimes, I find it extremely difficult to understand human nature. Considering the fact that almost a year ago, I had mistakenly touted Kwame Pianim as a hard-core NPP member and out of frustration after our disastrous outing in the 2008 elections, had gone ahead to canvass for him to be appointed interim Chairman of the NPP, (A position which does not exist by our party’s constitution) I feel very sad that latter events have proved that Mr. Kwame Pianim is not what most of us have all the while believed he was.

Kwame Pianim had a hidden agenda: His recent controversial statement that, of all the three Johns, he could only vouch for the integrity and incorruptibility of the last of the Johns has brought to the core the extent to which human beings could degenerate into – all in an effort to remain relevant in the scheme of affairs when everything points out to the contrary.

Was Kwame Pianim a mole in the NPP? Why did he demonize the first two of the Johns? Was it done to scheme himself through the backdoor into President Mills inner caucus? And is the Castle now the abode of Kwame Pianim? Kwame Pianim can be compared to the Equivocator in the ‘Porter’s speech (Macbeth) who lied and lied but could not equivocate his way to Heaven in the end. Now see the inconsistencies in his statement. In his original statement, he stated he had seen people handing over brown envelopes to the President on two occasions. The President handed back the envelopes to their “owners”. In a latter development, he changed his statement to read, those people whose attempts to bribe the President backfired came to narrate what transpired between they and the President to him. He , Kwame Pianim then went to ask the President about it, and the latter confirmed that, yes, indeed there had been attempts made to compromise him but he did not succumb. Nobody, in his right senses will acknowledge receiving a bribe from another if questioned about it. So, in the first place, the logic in Kwame Pianim going to ask the President whether or not he accepted the bribe is in itself flawed. These two different versions by the same person reveals him as having a person strong impulse and this makes him approach the issue of corruption with excessive naivety. His attempts to justify his assertion that the President is incorruptible are too child-like to warrant any serious discussion. What makes Kwame Pianim conclude that those brown envelopes contained money? They could have been petition which they wanted the President to address or something else. Are bribes given in the open? Couldn’t those monies have been paid into the President’s account as was done in the Mabey and Johnson’s case? Why should the incident of attempting to bribe the President be repeated twice and only when Mr. Kwame Pianim, a supposedly member of the opposition was present? Doesn’t this tell you something was obviously wrong somewhere? Couldn’t it have been stage managed to deceive the Honourable Kwame Pianim into believing that the President is incorruptible? And didn’t he fall for the bait?

And if we are to base our argument on his second statement that he went to ask the President about the allegation the second question to ask should be, “who will readily admit that he has received a bribe?” Only a fool or an imbecile would admit that. Which footballer will willingly admit handling the ball in the penalty box when the referee has not whistled for an infringement against him?

The fact that nothing of what Kwame Pianim claims he had seen during his visits to the President (which of course, could have been hallucination of the mind) never happened during the tenure of the first two Johns does not mean that Rawlings and Kufuor are themselves corrupt. How many times did he visit the Castle during the regimes of the first two Johns? How any times has he visited Mills since his assumption of power? And isn’t it an irony that anytime he visits the President in his office, someone comes in with a brown envelope?

What does Kwame Pianim hope to gain by such a controversial endorsement? Only one thing! His stomach!! – a position in Mills cabinet and I bet you, it will materialize sooner than you think. Ex President Rawlings anger and frustrations : When Rawlings made his famous or is it infamous statement, he was referring to people like Kwame Pianim and many others who have come from nowhere and appear to be warming their way into the President’s heart. It is men like Kwame Pianim that ex President Rawlings refers to as boot lickers, sycophants and Greedy bastards. As far as I am concerned, Kwame Pianim ceased to be a member of the NPP as far back as 2000 when he resigned. His purported comeback to the party was not genuine. The handling of the Muntaka’s issue and the Mabey and Johnson bribery scandals do not portray the President as an anti corruption crusader. Unlocking the lockjam: Kwame Pianim has made very serious and damaging revelations about attempts to compromise the President. Who were those involved and how do we know that such a scenario actually took place? We do not want to create a situation whereby any person with ulterior/sinister motive would wake up one day to make such serious and unfounded allegations against any top public servant. This matter needs prompt attention. Parliament should rise to the occasion by putting into place its investigative mechanisms in order to unravel the truth.

Hannah Louisa Bisiw, Deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing. Since her appointment as Deputy Minister, she has been trying her best to out do the substantive Minister in defending the indefensible and anti people’s policies put forth by the Mills administration. She has been endorsing and forcing the bitter pill down the throats of impoverished and malnourished Ghanaians. She it was, who declared a fatwa on Nana Ohene Ntow by unilaterally and without recourse to the law, imposed a heavy fine on him for using a state bungalow which served as his official residence for what the Deputy Minister termed “a shito” and kenkey-making factory. And by the way, how has she been able to enforce her edict?

For Hanna Bisiw to justify the renovation of an official bungalow at the cost of ONE POINT TWO BILLION CEDIS is something that beats my mind, let alone my understanding. When questioned about it, she made reference to a similar incident when the previous NPP administration used over Seven Hundred Million Cedis to renovate a bungalow. This figure was fiercely disputed by the NPP Director of Communications, Mr. Kwasi Kwarteng. Assuming even if the figure is correct, is that the reason why a staggering 1.2 billion Cedis should be spent on one building. What is the difference between the amount spent during the NPP regime and that of the Mills administration? A whopping 500million cedis difference! Enough to put up a modest building! By the way, if the NPP spent 700 million cedis to renovate one bungalow, this was probably one of the reasons why the party was booted out of power. So we expect a much more prudent and pragmatic economic policies from the Mills administration so that Dr Hanna Bissiw could flow at the same level with Ghanaians when she is explaining Government policies to them.

In an attempt to justify the enormous “opepepeepee” spent on the renovation, she made reference to some bungalows which had been looted and in some cases needed five air-conditioners to be fixed. As soon as I heard of five Air-Conditioners, my heart nearly jumped out of my mouth. Involuntarily, I heard myself saying,” stop there, Hanna. What does a Minister need five A/C in his official residence for? You promised us a lean and modest government, but see what we’ve got. Are you telling us those Ministers can not afford extra ones if indeed, they need them? How many Ghanaians have access to decent and affordable houses? Very few! But we are not complaining. But five air conditioners in the house of a Minister or his Deputy! Haba! It is more than enough. Three at the most!

By the way, how much has been spent on the Presidential (Jubilee House) Palace? Juxtapose this amount against the fact that a staggering 1.2 billion Cedis has been spent on renovating (not building) one bungalow and you would conclude that this amount qualifies to be the Eight wonder of the Ancient World. It will also qualify to be in the Guinness Book of Record with Dr Hanna Bissiw futile attempt to justify it beating the defence put forth by Sapphira, the wife of Ananias before the Apostles in the Holy Bible.

Ghanaians don’t even have anywhere to lay their poor heads and that is why they have made places like Sodom and Gomorrah their habitation. But they would not even be left alone. The NDC Government of which Hannah Bissiw is a member will not let these poor fellows alone. They are threatening to raze down all the buildings in the slums. But even America has its Harlem. Why can’t we do something to improve the lot of our less fortunate brethren instead of pulling down their buildings? But Hanna Bisiw and the Mayor of Accra, the man who appears to be from outer space would not let these poor citizens alone. Day in and day out, the Mayor is threatening to send his Gestapo to teach these people some sense for being born poor. Do you know that this threat is similar to the scourge of Aids virus? You know you are infected with the virus and will surely die. So every passing day is spent thinking how the end is going to come. It is the same situation that those living in slums in the capital find themselves in. They know they are going to be evicted (and probably the land parceled amongst the powers that be).But they don’t know when it will actually happen.

But we had a glimpse of the impending destruction when the tsunami struck at such an ungodly hour at 4.00am at Kaneshie on Monday. Why, Hannah Bissiw and Vanderpuye? What have these poor Ghanaians done to deserve such treatment? Remember, the God father is not dead. Definitely, you don’t expect the founder of your party, ex-President Rawlings to be happy with such an unpopular and wicked policy. Please mend your ways if you would like to be in the good books of the founder. Her Demeanour: The arrogance in Dr Hanna Bissiw mien is beyond description. She speaks with too much venom and contempt as if all other people should kowtow to her. The contempt Goliath had for David and the Israelites pales to insignificance when compared with what our learned Deputy Minister has for those “below her”. I would advise the Honourable Deputy Minister, Dr Hannah Bisiw to cultivate the friendly and affable mien of colleague Ministers like Haruna Iddrissu and Zita Okaikoi (herself a woman).

Dr Kwabena Dufuor: The Honourable Minister of Finance also appears to be one of those who are reaping but did not sow anything. And he has been a big disappointment to Ghanaians, especially those in the CPP. By the way, is he implementing the NDC or the CPP Manifesto? The budget, even without being implemented had already impoverished the malnourished Ghanaians. I pose this question to Professor Mills and Dr Kwabena Dufuor. What crime have Ghanaians committed to be saddled with this austerity and killer budget?

This is the most unthinkable thing ever to happen in our almost 53 years of our existence as an independent nation. Why impose tax on rice and other edibles? What is the logic in announcing taxes and then telling sellers not to apply them until January after the Christmas holidays? What kind of logic is that?

Illogical Absurdity: Let us not forget that the NDC, prior to the elections had made a lot of noise against imposition of taxes on petroleum products. Mills removed those taxes when he came to power. Kufuor’s NPP government removed taxes on rice and other staple foods to mitigate the hardships Ghanaians were going through. But Kwabena Dufuor and Mills have re-imposed those taxes. Another “illogical absurdity”, one might say. Taxes on petroleum products are removed and re-imposed on rice, a staple food. This is pure daylight robbery and is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Rice is a staple Ghanaian dish, not a delicacy

Are the President and the Finance Minister as well as their advisors aware that rice has become the staple food to Ghanaians? Gone are the days when we ate rice and chicken only during Christmas and other festive occasions. What contingency arrangements have been put in place to ensure that Ghanaians do not go hungry, at least during the short term? Did they think about the theory of Comparative Cost advantage before coming up with such an unworkable and unwholesome arrangement?

Let it be told to all who care to listen that no matter how much we pride our selves, it will take some time before Ghanaian rice can compare favourably with the rice we import from outside. It will take us years before we attain perfection in rice production. We cannot sit down to remove stones and other materials from rice produced in the country before we cook them. Have the President, Kwabena Dufuor and most of the hangers on around the Presidency sat down to analyze the number of man hours to be wasted in removing those “debris” from Ghanaian rice?

The Minister of Finance should be told in no uncertain terms that it is the tax-payers money that is being used to cater for him and members of the NDC Government. Thus, they just don’t wake up to decide all of a sudden to change the taste and consuming habit of citizens and think that the only way they could do so is to impose taxes. The taste is there, and so, taxes or no taxes, the people “go chop” foreign rice. W e no go sit down make dem chop better rice, whiles they force us to chop locally produced and inferior ones. Dabida! Walahi talahi!

Yes, Kwabena Dufuor has short-changed Ghanaians. The social contract Ghanaians signed with the Mills administration when we gave him our mandate has been breached and heads will have to roll. Yes, Dr Dufuor is obviously one of those people who fall into the category of bootlickers, sycophants and greedy bastards because of this anti-people’s budget they are forcing down our throats. Dr Dufuor, even though, you were part of the NDC team when Rawlings was President that does not make you the perfect man for the job you are occupying. You, not being a member of the NDC out jumped the gun ahead of others and got the Finance portfolio. But you have not impressed Ghanaians, not even your mentor, John Jerry Rawlings. Hence the tag, Greedy bastard, boot licker and sycophant.

Mrs. Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade: Our oyibo Minister, the other day, was heard on air attempting desperately to punch holes in ex-President Rawlings assertion that Mills Government was made up of bootlickers, sycophants and Greedy bastards. The more she attempted to do so, the more she got engulfed in the quagmire.

Did she have any inputs in this year’s draconian budget presented by her colleague Minister for Finance who himself has fallen under Rawlings hammer? I will take her up on one aspect, and it has to do with the ongoing demolition exercise in Accra and other parts of the country. I might partially excuse the perpetrators of this heinous crime against poor Ghanaians whose only crime was to be born poor and were only trying to eke up a living when it comes to the central business areas of Accra. But even here, the timing of the action is very worrisome..

There are some places and areas that street trading does not constitute a nuisance. Let us remind ourselves that we are Ghanaians and no matter what we do under the guise of modernization, hawking has become and will remain part of our tradition and culture. We cannot overnight turn our streets into Manhattan, London, Paris Berlin and what have you. What measures did we put in place to mitigate the sufferings of ordinary Ghanaians who have to hawk their wares under the scorching sun just to ensure that there is at least something on the table for their dependants and themselves? Wrong Timing: The most pathetic aspect is that this ugly government development has come at the wrong time. It is Christmas and this is the period one has to be charitable. The sources of livelihood of many Ghanaians have been destroyed by the overzealous and barbaric nature those entrusted with this task have been going on with their work. How do such people console themselves at such a period of need, want and warmth?

The Poor should die to decrease the surplus population: What Hanna Tetteh has turned a blind eye to is reminiscent of Scrooge’s encounter with the ghost of Christmas Past or was it that of the present? Please, pardon me. Scrooge asked those people who had come to solicit assistance for the less fortunate members of the society during Christmas if there were no prisons. The people replied in the affirmative but added that if such people were sent to prisons, they would die. Scrooge added that such people should die to decrease the surplus population.

It appears that in its inability to solve the seemingly hopeless economic problems the nation is passing through, the Mills administration, with people like Mrs. Hanna Tetteh have decided that the solution lies in forcing the larger number of the “surplus population” into their early graves. For this is exactly what the likes of Hannah Tetteh and the hawks in Mills administration like the Accra Mayor Mr. Vanderpuye are telling the suffering masses. They should go to hell! By destroying the very source of their livelihood at this period of need, is the Government indirectly not sending them to their early graves? And this is the period that people should be kind and charitable to their fellow human beings Hanna Tetteh has shown by her stony silence at the injustice being perpetrated against her fellow human beings that the tag of boot licker, sycophant and greedy bastard fits her. What action is government taking against officials who issued various permits so such poor and at times ignorant people to put up such structures? Have the various District/ Municipal/Metropolitan Assemblies not been collecting basic rates/taxes from such people/ By the way, what is the responsibility of Government towards its citizens? Is it not to take care of them by providing certain basic amenities? Kufuor Provided Ghanaians with the Saturdays and Sunday markets: One of the enduring legacies of the Kufuor’s administration was the provisions of Saturday and Sunday markets in various parts of the country. These were markets people could sell their wares on weekends without any fear of molestation or confiscation of goods. But Mrs. Hannah Tetteh and the Accra Mayor would not let these people go about their normal work in peace. The Accra Mayor has extended the hands of his Gestapo men and women into such markets.

The callous, beastly and destructive acts of such marauding predators who could even strike at such an ungodly hour like what happened at Kaneshie at 4.00am on Monday have made every street in the capital an unsafe haven for the street trader. Infact, Nightfall in Soweto is the right expression for the street trader in the country today. And if you are unfortunate to be arrested by the Gestapo trained taskforce, you will curse the day on which you were born. Under such a circumstance, how can trade thrive? Oh Hanna, what have Ghanaians done to deserve this uncaring treatment from a team that you are part of? And when we complain, the retort is that there are many stalls/stores yet to be occupied. Can the poor afford the amount the rich charge before letting and at times sub-letting out these stalls/stores? Why can’t Government build stores whose rents will be affordable to all? But why carry this barbaric, callous, destructive demolition exercise to the remote areas where street trading and hawking do not interfere with the flow of traffic?

Conclusion: The question to ask ourselves is the same question Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly asked rhetorically- “Do we have the worst of us leading the best of us?” And do we have a situation where bad workmen blame their tools for their failures and inefficiencies? Well, as long as the God father is not dead but alive many more of such boot lickers, sycophants and Greedy Bastards will be unearthed in the next write up. Who will it next time around?. Just be patient and pray for the nation, the President and his cabinet to steer our ship of state through the turbulent waters. But before I sign off, let me state that this is the first time in the history of sports administration that economic refugees, masquerading as physically impaired sportsmen were smuggled into another country to participate in a sporting event organized for the handicapped. Yet the perpetrators of such shameful act which impacted negatively on the image of the country are walking the streets of Ghana as free men and women. This tells a great deal about the President’s genuine attempts to fight corruption. I Shall Return.

Daniel Danquah Damptey E-mail address :- danieldanquah_damptey@yahoo.com

Columnist: Damptey, Daniel Danquah