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Opinions Wed, 12 Aug 2015

Nkrumah Did The Same With Yaw Djin, By The Way

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Garden City, New York

August 6, 2015

E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net

Accusations that President John Dramani Mahama has been signing off on the use of state property by his half-brother Ibrahim Mahama's private mining company called Engineers And Planners (E & P) is nothing new (See "Mahama's Brother Uses State Assets For Personal Gains - MP" Citifmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/24/15). During the 1950s, in the investigations/Enquiries into rank Convention People's Party (CPP) corruption launched by the legendary Jibowu Commission, then-Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah was also accused of using his official power and influence as head-of-state to allow his business mogul cousin, Mr. Yaw Djin, to illegally use vehicles and other properties belonging to the Cocoa-Purchasing Company (CPC), the domestic commercial arm of the erstwhile Cocoa-Marketing Board, which the British colonial regime had allowed the Prime Minister, then Head-of-Government-Business, to establish by legislative instrument in 1951, or thereabouts.

Nkrumah would use his CPC's monopoly over the purchase of dried cocoa beans from Ghanaian farmers to tactically and strategically squeeze out or seriously undermine farmers who belonged to the Busia-Danquah-led United Party (UP), the main political opponents of the Convention People's Party. And so, really, President Mahama was only borrowing a well-yellowed page from the rankly corrupt Nkrumah playbook when he allegedly instructed Deputy Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Mr. Nii Lantey Vanderpuije, to write a letter authorizing the use of earth-moving and other taxpayer-underwritten construction equipment by the mining company of Mr. Ibrahim Mahama.

Initially, we were told that some of the aforesaid equipment were being used by workers employed by the proprietor of Engineers And Planners to dredge up the heavily silted and garbage-clogged Odaw River in Accra. This, of course, comes on the heels of the recent massive flooding of the Nkrumah Circle Area of Central Accra that left at least a couple of hundred commuters and pedestrians dead, some of them burnt beyond recognition by the torching of oil-slicked flood waters.

What is not clear to-date is whether the work done by the E & P employees was paid for by the government, or it was done voluntarily by Mr. Ibrahim Mahama. We are also told that the fuel used to power the dredgers and other construction machines came from the Ghanaian taxpayer's wallet. We don't know how much the fuel cost the Ghanaian taxpayer, and so the extent of Mr. Ibrahim Mahama's volunteerism is quite unclear. Even more significantly, we are made aware of the fact that the aforesaid equipment was purchased on loan from a German-owned manufacturing company.

In other words, the full-cost of the equipment has yet to be settled. Now, we don't know the exact amount involved in the purchase; neither do we know much about the terms of payment, as reportedly approved by Parliament. We need to be concerned here because even as Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu, the Minority Spokesperson on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Parliament alleges, there does clearly appear to be a conflict-of-interest here, because protocol for this kind of public business has invariably been by contractual bids, in which the most demonstrably competent and cost-efficient bidders are awarded such contracts.

What we also need to know here is the basis upon which the Flagstaff House, or the Presidency, authorized Mr. Vanderpuije, the Deputy Local Government Minister, to release the state-owned construction equipment to Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, moreso, in view of the fact that there exists a State Construction Corporation (SCC) with an impressive historical development record in the country. Which is why it comes as rather puzzling for Citi News Radio and the latter's website to report that: "Citi News' further checks revealed E & P rather helped the state by using its experienced personnel to operate the equipment while government fueled them." Now, let's talk about NDC social democracy!

Are we here, for example, being told that the State Construction Corporation has no qualified personnel to work with these machines? And if so, for what purpose did the government, with Parliament's approval, import these machines/equipment into the country? We need prompt and definitive answers to these questions. But what more than piqued my attention, however, was the report that some of the aforesaid equipment have been found at a construction site allegedly owned and operated by Mr. Ibrahim Mahama's company at Akyem-Tafo, the very territory which just last year President Mahama had rude occasion to disdainfully characterize as "The galamsey headquarters of Ghana."

Mr. Osei-Owusu has good reason to worry about the fact of whether Ghana can promptly meet its debt-servicing obligations, if these pieces of heavy-duty equipment continue to be loaned out to private entrepreneurs with close connections to the Presidency, without any apparent transparency and/or proper accounting for the same.

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Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame