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Opinions Sun, 26 Jun 2011

Mills' GH¢90 Million Campaign Budget Saga

The truth about whether or not President Mills has earmarked GH¢90 million for his party’s nomination slot lies in the identity of the individual who handed the tape over to former President Rawlings.

It appears, at least to me, that the appearance of such a tape, at a time when the former President has been tarring the administration with allegations of corruption and greedy ‘bastardism,’ is by no means fortuitous.

What is unclear, however, is which preceded the other – the tapes or the allegations? Perhaps, I am the victim of a vivid imagination but my suspicions are greatly heightened; theorising that the whole saga smacks of the workings of a strategic bogus informant’s mind who, with completed swot analysis, aspires to benefit from the enormous political opportunities to be gained by finding or manufacturing and delivering such a tape.

An unprecedented and fascinating royal battle is declared within the National Democratic Congress (NDC) pitting the former first lady, party founder’s wife, against the sitting President, the founder’s former protégé.

At the campaign launch of the First Lady, allegations of bribery of party delegates are made.

The existence of a two-hour tape is announced shortly thereafter, confirming that the Presidency has both the means and the intent to bribe delegates. Just in time, you would say. Except that even those who claim to have listened to the tape talk about “unidentifiable voices.”

Rather, for good measure, a few high profile Castle names are strategically dropped on the tape in third party references, none of them actually involved in the meeting.

So while the powerful allegation has been made, there is either no evidence or no ‘living’ corroborator of the event. And then the figure keeps changing from the initial GH¢90 million released to a far lower figure confirmed by journalists who heard the tape, the unimpressive magnitude of which made one presenter on Asempa FM boast that this indeed was small money he could deliver any day, let alone a competitor in a presidential primary.

The results are of course dramatic and the implications mind blowing; the President responds promptly in hilarious Fante, National Security gets cracking and real questions are raised about how secure Presidential conversations are!

I say simply that this is too good to be true – much too convenient. And yet instead of the President’s National Security Advisor confessing that this indeed is the conclusion he has come to, he chose to befuddle the issues by calling on the Ghanaian media to go and question the former President about the whereabouts of the tape! How can this be? Of course, there also exists the possibility of his not wanting to further escalate an already tense political situation.

While tough talking General Nunoo-Mensah has declared his reluctance to share exactly what National Security is doing on the matter with the Ghanaian public, it is worth pointing out to him the specific nature of the President’s instructions! The President’s specific mandate was to “find out the truth and tell the people of Ghana!”

We, the good people, are quite clearly the anticipated final recipients, whatever the General’s convictions about who he reports to coupled with his reluctance. He might also be forgetting that the President has taken quite a categorical position for and against transparent governance and corruption respectively.

Given this, between now and the congress date of July 9, we need an official pronouncement on the matter and we don’t intend our journalists to be the source!

I struggle without success to appreciate how keeping the good people updated in line with the President’s policy on transparency compromises the General’s uncontested assertion that he reports to the President only.

I am expecting the National Security to focus on unraveling the identity of the source of the tape. Then and only then will the full ramifications of its veracity and better still, the motivations in passing it on be appreciated. And then the people must be told the truth as directed by the President.

Intelligence officers talk about the infamous informant as a means of intelligence data gathering whose efforts have often not been for purely altruistic reasons. Highly incentivized, therefore, some bogus informants see things that have not happened, hear words that have not been spoken, smell crime when there is innocence and give evidence where none exists.

If the Intelligence network to which such information is fed does not have its own rigorous system of checking and double-checking such information for truth and accuracy, it may act prematurely or completely wrongly as was the case of Kinapharma, leaving in its wake fantastic embarrassment and egg on the security agencies’ face.

If K.B. Quantson, former intelligence chief, is to be believed (and I have no reason to doubt him), motives for spewing forth inaccurate information about a neighbour vary. Applied to the GH¢90 million saga, such highly-motivated bogus informants may be the President’s political opponents, a peeved party apparatchik, a jealous associate or simply one I may label a political entrepreneur who sees an opportunity and exploits it.

If this informant is of high enough profile, then it becomes difficult to discount the story. Suffused with avarice, he or she aspires to eat with both hands and feet. He or she dreams of reaping rewards and gratitude where he or she has not sown.?

K. B. Quantson indeed chronicles numerous instances, especially in the days of military regimes, where bogus informants, relying on their proximity to corridors of power, have snitched on their neighbours with false information which if not verified might have led to disastrous consequences.

In one instance, one bogus informant reported to intelligence officials on authority that the Asantehene, the Otumfuo, was plotting to overthrow the then ruling military government. Can you imagine the repercussions of an unchecked but overzealous invasion of Manhyia and the arrest of the Asantehene on trumped up charges?

Three dimensions of the source of the tape are profiled;

He or she was a high profile informant, well connected to the corridors of power and with access to the former President.?These thus made the appearance of the tape within the given context assume the cloak of credibility.

Secondly, the bogus informant had a good story summarized. ?Exuding great confidence and having a track record of sorts he or she would say, here is the evidence to back it. I do this not for my own good but because I can’t bear the thought of …

Finally, the context provided was fantastic. Mills’s personal strength as a politician appears to be his image as a squeaky clean, principled and unruffled personality with special talent for long suffering with equanimity under a constant barrage of attacks. Anyone who is able therefore to make a charge of corruption stick against Mills will destroy him forever politically which thus elevates the status of whichever ‘informant’ proves capable of providing the smoking gun on Mills’s corruption. Further, by this singular act, he or she ingratiates him/herself most profitably into the good graces of Mills’s opponents.

To me, therefore, someone has simply read into this context quite well, calculated profit margins equally well and chosen the story too well. Indeed, we should find out what he or she has gotten out of it – rewards, political influence peddling, enormous good will, powerful power broker status etc.

I conclude thus; such a tape does indeed exist with a reliability co-efficient that is surpassed only by the unreliability of the one that produced it and the distractions of the National Security Advisor.

Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey

Visit writer’s blog @ www.sodzisodzi.com

Columnist: Sodzi-Tettey, Sodzi