Opinions of Mon, 1 Feb 201012

Nepotism And The Ancient Church

Was Kufuor really antagonistic towards the people of the Volta and the Northern Regions than Rawlings towards the Ghanaian? Asante Fordjour at JusticeGhana.com examines the other limb of “Our Democracy is Growing, but… Danger!! Part II”, by Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

In Memory of Ex-President Dr Hilla Limann

*The OmanbaPa Research Group

History and Events

Nepotism, according to New Catholic Dictionary, gained its name after the church practice in the Middle Ages, when some Catholic popes and bishops, who had taken vows of chastity, and therefore usually had no children of their own, gave their nephews such positions of preference as were often accorded by fathers to son. The odds in this practice at the time were that several popes elevated nephews and other relatives to the cardinalate. Thus more often than not, such appointments, it is said, became a means of continuing a papal "dynasty". For instance, Pope Callixtus III, head of the Borgia family, according to New Catholic Dictionary, made two of his nephews Cardinals; one of them, Rodrigo, later used his position as a Cardinal as a stepping stone to the papacy, becoming Pope Alexander VI. Coincidentally, Alexander, as Catholic Encyclopedia puts it, elevated Alessandro Farnese, his mistress' brother, to the cardinalate- Farnese would later go on to become Pope Paul III! To this end, we at the JusticeGhana.com have assumed that if there are any odds associated with nepotism in Ghana’s democratic experiment, here, national cohesion and collective progress, it could be traced head-on to the Church, rather than “wandering in the Mosque”.

Commentary and Analysis

In his article “Our Democracy is Growing, but… Danger!! Part II” (GHP, 29 Dec 2009), Dr Michael Bokor- presumably a “concerned Ghanaian”, reminds the Ghanaian not only of the prevailing favourable condition for the alleged “Ewe-controlled” National Democratic Congress (NDC) operatives who, as he puts it, are now back to post and making no secret of their determination to show their “enemies” where naked power lies but also argued that Kufuor will go down in history as a failure for not finding anybody from the entire Upper West Region as qualified enough to include in his Cabinet in the first part of his 8-year rule.

Falling short in diving deep and here, mentioning the probable names that should have been considered by the Kufuor-led NPP administration, Bokor- who had set out his thesis by telling his readers to recognize that the favourable conditions for vengeance exist in all sectors, especially in the public sphere and that we are not yet done with the issue of appointing embittered people to public office under President Mills’ government, was quick in splashing the troubled waters. He argues that Kufuor has also been accused of nepotism just as has been said of Rawlings and as many are saying, about the Mills administration of favouring Ewes and Northerners as against perhaps other ethnic groups that Bokor appeared not only nervous to mention, but also seemed reluctant to explain to his audience.

The article which had Kufuor and his New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the occasional comparison of Rawlings-Kufuor rather than Mills as its main characters, and indeed attempted to address the plausible problems that if not checked, could subvert our 1992 Constitution, began like this: “As a reminder of how vindictiveness prevails in our national life, we must recognize that the favourable conditions for vengeance exist in all sectors, especially in the public sphere. We are not yet done with the issue of appointing embittered people to public office under President Mills’ government. Take, for instance: • At the Presidency, Victor Smith, Koku Anyidoho, and many more, who were tyrannized by the Kufuor administration; • Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey (National Security Coordinator, who was dismissed by Kufuor from his headship of the 64 Infantry Regiment on a very serious allegation of plotting a coup d’état that nobody either investigated or prosecuted him for.”

This was sandwiched with the case of • Yaw Donkor- the current Director of the Bureau of National Investigations who, according to Bokor, was removed from the Directorship of the BNI by Kufuor. In the words of Dr Michael Bokor, many other operatives of the BNI were also forcibly evicted from their positions in that organization either by being asked to proceed on leave- a euphemism for dismissal, redeployed to the Civil Service, or simply silenced through official sanctions or by the actions of political party activists planted in the organization. At this point, Bokor who seemed to know much about Ghana’s political and legal history but appeared glued to 1992 when Ghana returned to democracy, quizzed his “ignorant readers” whether we should be surprised at what the BNI has done so far in this (NDC) government. In reading this the discerning Ghanaian might have asked why not the police and the law courts, but rather the so-called cadres within the BNI and the armed forces. Perhaps, the answer could be found at the heart of Dr Borkor’s series- which said:

“We can tell from the removal from office of those supposedly sympathetic to the NPP (at the National Service Directorate, National Disaster Management Organization, National Health Insurance Scheme, National Youth Employment Programme, etc.) that the wheel of “do-me-I-do-you” is really whirling and doing damage. But that is not all. Those radical elements within the NDC, apparently led by Rawlings, are unhappy that the NDC administration hasn’t paid back the NPP elements yet. They are aggrieved because President Mills is not working hard for the prosecution of NPP functionaries, considering how the Kufuor ((8-yr)) government sternly dealt with NDC activists accused of causing financial loss to the state or simply making it difficult for the NPP-in-opposition then to function. To these radicals, the cycle must run. It is within this context that President Mills’ mantra of “Father-for-all-Ghanaians” has been received with mixed feelings even within his own political circles.” So, are Rawlings and his cohorts not being deceptive to Ghana and Mills?

It will be recalled that the “I Care for You”, together with what Dr Bokor terms as President Mills’ mantra of “Father-for-all-Ghanaians”, had been the campaign platform not only for candidate Atta Mills but also, his die-hard supporters who decorated him with the “man of peace or better put, Asomdweehen”. Having bestowed on him with such accolades, should they expect him to run amok with justice by prosecuting his so-called political enemies, without evidence? According to Bokor, to the ((NDC)) radicals, it is unbelievable that the NPP functionaries are not being punished as one would have expected, especially when viewed against the background of the sentiments that dominated the electioneering campaigns. Borkor who finds these unacceptable, puzzles: “After all, Asiedu Nketiah, the NDC’s General Secretary, had already told Ghanaians long ago that the party had prepared a list of all those NPP elements to be punished. So, why shouldn’t they be dealt with now?”

We at JusticeGhana.com/OmanbaPa Research Group find it premature and indeed disagree with Bokor’s assertion that so far, the inability to jail any of the NPP functionaries may be pointing us to a different direction of governance which he cautiously suggests as an end in sight to what he describes as the politics of vengeance at least at the official level. He is also wrong on the Johnson Asiedu-Nketias’ assertions, in that they are not authoritative national investigators or state prosecutors but rather, patriotic citizens who must not wait for political power before exercising their civic obligation of reporting any wrongdoing against the State. As recent decisions attest, so far, this government, has demonstrated its weaknesses in observing basic procedural legal rules, hence the repeated legal defeats. So, Bokor appears right in reasoning that the matter will take on a different complexion if vindictiveness, is effected under the cover of the law on “causing financial loss to the state.”

Indeed this is an area of law which generated a lot of debate under the Kufuor-led NPP following the trial and sentencing of Ibrahim Adams, Dan Agbudapki, Tsatsu Tsikata, not forgetting the prosecution of Mrs Rawlings for alleged illegal inside-dealing in divestiture of state asset but which Kufuor dropped at the last-hour as president. In all these cases, almost all the NDC top functionaries, including Chairman Rawlings, who strongly believed in justice, probity and accountability, faulted Kufuor and our justice system. It might have been in this context that Dr. Michael Bokor has reasoned that: “personal animosity will certainly influence decisions on whom to punish.” Yet, we at OmanbaPa Research Group strongly believe that those entrusted with political power and more importantly, in the administration of justice in our country, must not allow themselves or be coerced by the dictates of personal grievance but rather, be motivated by professional ethics and fortitude.

Thus the rule of law must not be interpreted by the dictates of aggrieved politicians such as the NDC stalwarts who in the words of Bokor, argue that Mills is not working hard for the prosecution of NPP functionaries as Kufuor government sternly dealt with NDC activists accused of causing financial loss to the state or simply making it difficult for the NPP-in-opposition to function. In the words of Bokor, like Rawlings-led NDC, Kufuor-led NPP also targeted and indeed, discriminated against Ewes vis-à-vis the recruitment into the Security Services. So he writes: “When vindictiveness is framed within the scope of tribalism and nepotism, it turns an otherwise harmless suspicion into a dangerous powder keg ready to explode at the flick of a finger. Unfortunately, our leaders always represent this face of vindictiveness. Of course, in every political system, the leader of the political party who assumes high office is always upheld by his kinsmen as a source of pride and empowerment.” But why Bokor pin-points Kufuor’s alleged discrimination against the Ewes but became nervous and prefers using “other ethnic groups” in describing Rawlings’ victims?

Here lies the answer and his motives. Forgetting that the position of service commanders is becoming more of a political in nature rather than service to nation, Bokor accuses Kufuor of dismissing Lt. Col. Larry Gbevlo-Lartey from his headship of the 64 Infantry Regiment in what he graphs as a very serious allegation of plotting a coup d’état that in his opinion, nobody either investigated or prosecuted him for. Dr Michael Bokor failed however, to recall how Rawlings disbanded the Special Branch under Ghana Police Service and on its place, swiftly replaced it with the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) in early hours of 1982. Dr Bokor’s accounts also failed to undertake a comparative investigation into the process of recruitment into the “revolutionary BNI” and the fate of members of the proscribed SB, and not least the members and families of the so-called Military and/or Defence Intelligence(MI)

No one holds brief for Kufuor’s political (in) actions. But Borkor could have done justice to his theme if he had remembered the Awoonors and what Rawlings-led Provisional National Defence Council (P)NDC) did to industrialists such as Appiah-Menkah, Siaw. Yet, on the same serious note, he was ‘politically mute’ on PNDC’s “gimmicks” about the said Major Quashigah’s alleged coup plot in the 1980s. Nothing was also said about Col. Damoah and the changes at State Security since 7 January 2009. Yes, the Yeye Boys were also murdered in the Volta, yet, Dr Bokor should have for example, also given historical accounts and interpretation on how a small group of disgruntled Ghanaians could dress in “Northern smock”, abduct and kill three High Court judges (including a three weeks nursing mother) and a retired army officer. Bokor could have yes, also given political interpretation as to how a sitting president, as it was alleged, could assault and yes, batter his Vice-President?

Thus, in addressing the vindictiveness of the eras of Rawlings-Kufuor that is smeared with words such as “acrimony, enmity, vengeance, bitterness, tribalism, so much in national politics and the said hit-and-run tactics of some elements within NDC/NPP, Bokor should have reminded his youthful audience about the life and works of Ex-President Hilla Limann. Without prejudice, Bokor should have also lectured us on the deportation and exchange of alleged Ghanaian C.I.A. operatives over espionage activities against the defacto PNDC with Michael Soussidis at Aflao Border Post. Historically argued, Ghana had been a country without “racial contest”. So, what was Bokor’s bid in contrasting Obama’s election in the United States to the successive regimes in Republic of Ghana? Or was Bokor referring to the Rawlings’ “Redemptive Fourth Class Citizenship Message” to the Ewes in the Volta Region?

“The contrast between that kind of “feeling” and ours is sharp. In our case, the danger is that we cannot separate ethnic interests from national aspirations, which underscores the prevalence of tribalism in our politics. The perception of the leader as representing the interests of his particular ethnic group is dangerous but we seem to encourage it in one way or the other. We can all tell what happens anytime the name of any of our leaders (past or present) is mentioned. The first impulse is to refer to his ethnic group and the images associated with that reference. This tribal factor has played a dangerous part in our politics, especially since 1992….,” Bokor argues. We agree. But what interpretation might Dr Bokor place on the alleged attempted military coup dubbed: “One Man, One Machete”, against Kutu Acheampong’s regime in the 1970s, that had military personalities such as Brigadier Katah, Captain Kojo Tsikata, Warrant Officer Kpaha and Sergeant Agboha as front-men?

Indeed, it will be misleading to conceive it as “Ewes’ Political Grievance” because starting from the putsch of 24 February 1966 and 13 January 1972, the architects and yes, the composition of coup plotters had always been mixed. So why then the 15 May 1979 abortive mutiny nearly overturned this national approach? Thus save the Agyiwaks and the Babatundes, (2 Northerners), the plotters were predominately, Ewes. Bokor’s series dwell on tribalism which he attempts to pitch on Kufuor. So can we also erroneously assume that the 15 May mutiny was “Ewes Redemption Song” although it was not Ewes who rescued JJ from his guardroom? No, because social observers argue that tribal behaviour is rooted in some of our most positive human qualities. Thus, we are social animals carrying a natural desire to relate to others who are like us in some way and to form strong bonds of trust and loyalty within our families and our peer groups. Yet, the negative side, per John Bradberry, occurs when the group members so closely align and identify with their own unit that they see other groups or parts of the organization as competitors, obstacles, or even threats.

Some of the consequences, as Bradberry puts it, are that those with tribal instincts lose sight of the broader or higher-level goals and instead become fixated on outdoing or out-competing other areas of the same business. So, how do we interpret the then misleading rumours that the then Fantes-dominated PNP Government, were on the move to subvert President Dr Limann with Kankan Dacosta- the “Show Boy”, hence the need for an urgent 31 December coup that had Northerners at forefront. What about the imports of Peoples Rawlings’ recent remarks that without Volta Region, there will be no NDC? Yes, it is true that affiliation and teamwork, has served humanity well over hundreds of thousands of years and, without high levels of collaboration, our organizations- and here, our cherished but impoverished ethnic enclaves, could be deserted empty places. So, we agree with Bokor that our reliance on ethnic cult on national politics, poses a serious threat to our democracy.

Yet, it seems to JusticeGhana that the most “serious threats” to our current constitutional trials are the cunning attempts to marshal the individual/ethnic group against one another, as well as the drive of the said “radical-fronts” to impose Torgbui Avaklasu I ((who by the dicta of our chieftaincy law is barred from active politics,) as ‘Watchman of our Democracy’. Credit JusticeGhana.com/The OmanbaPa Research Group

Columnist: Asante Fordjour

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