- Any Personal and Financial Losses to Ghana?By Dr. Kwaku A. Danso, President, Ghana Leadership Union, Inc.
The recent attack on the personal morality or ethics of a Member of Parliament, Hon. P.C. Appiah Ofori, MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, who was honored by Ghana Leadership Union only a week earlier for being one of the rarest of men standing against the corruption in Ghana’s public arena (GhanaHomePage September 15, 2007) helps define what we know in public life as the “mafia” of corruption. Just like happens in other parts of the world in the power struggles that have come to dominate many modern-day politics, there are powerful forces who will try to destroy any man who stands out for good against the evils of public thievery and corruption in Ghana! Isn’t it time we all teamed up together against this public menace of corruption!!
So readers will know this is strictly non-partisan fight against a common enemy, recall that in the P/NDC era there used to be human feces poured in the offices of reporters and publishers who dared criticize the Rawlings administration. The Ghanaian Chronicle by Kofi Coomson, and the one time Free Press paper by Tommy Thomson, are examples that come to mind. Not to be outdone, in the NPP time many of the men running for office today as Presidential candidates have contributed to an era of great disappointing misbehavior and public spending and thievery that cannot be described other than causing major financial losses to the state.
Public misbehavior and abuse of office comes in many shapes. At a time when workers were being told government cannot pay a living wage to workers and students forced to pair up twelve in a room meant for two, and Ghana was filing for national bankruptcy, HIPC, five bullet proof Toyota Landcruiser vehicles were ordered for the President in 2001 (for $450,000). Since them of course hundreds more have been ordered, at an estimated average price of over $75,000. In addition $10 million or more was reported to be used in building a mansion for the President of this impoverished nation. Funny thing – it was a loan from India!! In addition hundreds of thousands have been spent on renovating personal residence of the President and his Ministers. In the mean time simple clean toilets were not available at major public places such as the ports and harbor and the vehicle license office in Accra. Pictures taken by this writer showed men urinating on walls in this day and age, 2007!
The shame of public corruption. The shame of corruption and public misappropriation of funds cannot be more exacerbated than when a member of parliament offers to lead the fight to serve the public interest and is denied that opportunity by the very same man Ghanaians elected to office, the President of Ghana, J.A. Kufuor! The former Director of the Serious Frauds Office (SFO), Lawyer Dominic DeGraft Aidoo, in his book on “Public Corruption in Africa, the Case of Ghana”, depicts clearly that public corruption is a massive canker in Ghana. Our President had denied any corruption in his administration and challenged even Transparency International and others who criticize to bring matters to court and prosecute themselves. Funny indeed! The dangers of financial losses from graft and public corruption is that it cripples the nation, from uncompleted projects, to losses of jobs, to actual lives lost due to poor road construction. When grants and loans taken for water and other needed projects and services, can we calculate the losses compared to if a MP has two wives or does not have a wife?
Hon. P.C. Appiah Ofori has been featured by The Ghanaian Chronicle and other publications as the most honest man in Parliament. Honesty and integrity does not mean perfect. Let’s get it straight! No one is perfect and the one who is perfect perhaps does not want to be in politics, anyway! In summer 2004 this writer, as leader of a change movement for more effective public accountability and leadership, met the Honorable MP in his house. I have to admit that I did not meet his wife and I did not even ask if he was married or not. It was not of any relevance to me what his family and personal business was.
In conversation on the phone, even before I met him, and in person, I have come to realize and admire what this man stands for. Unlike many of his colleagues in the house who think only of themselves, Hon. P.C. Appiah Ofori thinks of his constituents. He thinks of Ghana. He narrated the story of how as an Accountant /Auditor of Bibiani Mines he had discovered some huge amount of money that had been siphoned overseas and reported this to the Rawlings government. After confrontation the PNDC gave the owners the ultimatum of jail or retrieval of the amount, $5 million, with a penalty of $2 million. They agreed. A few days after Hon. P.C. Appiah Ofori had verified the receipt of the $7 million at the Bank, the money vanished. When he wrote to Chairman Rawlings about the situation, the letter was interceded. He was arrested and taken to the barracks and God knows what they did to people who were sent to those barracks during Rawlings PNDC era. I did not ask him. Luckily for him somebody recognized him and he was finally released after a few weeks.
Personal Life. The personal life of a public figure can have relevance and an effect on public life in so far as it affects his job performance. Ethics and social morality can be personal and can also affect society. How a man acts when in adversity rather shows their true character, and should not be viewed as a disgrace simply because it is in the news. Utilitarian ethics suggests that the value of an act lies in the amount of pleasure or happiness, and reduction of pain. Some ethicists even suggest that a man must only pursue what brings them the maximum happiness to the exclusion of everything else. According to the audio report of an interview on JoyFM September 15, 2007, the Honorable found his wife had cheated on him and even gave him a sexually transmitted disease. Instead of reacting emotionally with tantrums and the typical Ghanaian macho “I will show you where power lies”, this man actually reported Rebecca to the parents and family and divorced her peacefully! He even agreed to live under the same roof. Huh! Come ooooon!! Men, look in the mirrors and tell me how many of us would have swallowed this we call in Akan “Nkwaseasem” in such a peaceful and graceful manner?
The issue at hand for a man of integrity is not that he has no flaws or is perfect. In fact St. Peter in the Bible and others would draw their swords in such situations and so would you. So let’s be real. The issue may even be asked whether the man was acting too Saintly, in which case he actually got what was coming to him, this kind of blood to flow on him one day. This writer has written against the fama-Nyame (give-it-to-God) culture and concluded in his research on Ghana and recent book (1) that it is one of our greatest weaknesses in our socio-economic development. Anytime a man refuses to enact the right kind of discipline or punishment in a situation he stands the chance of some negative backfire. I had an elementary school teacher at Abetifi Boys Boarding School who used to say “Don’t let my generosity be my weakness”. The 6 lashes were never spared as I recall, for the bad boys. The Bible seems to endorse that. The great warrior and one of Africa’s best military geniuses, Chaka the Zulu, was reported as saying “Never leave an enemy behind for he will rise up one day and hit you from behind”.
The Judgment. It is always so easy to judge others but one has to weigh the parameters. How does one’s actions hurt or harm others and society? Are laws broken? Are there any financial losses to the state? Peaceful coexistence is a blessing for all mankind. Nobody is saying a dishonest wife should necessarily be an enemy. After all she is the mother of your children. However, history teaches both men and women that jealousy is not a new invention. Jealousy alone can cause humans to do great havoc to each other. In Western so-called civilized societies, the pistol or gun is usually used to settle scores of infidelity between husband and wife. It appears that Honorable P.C. was trying to be a gentleman, a man of peace, in a traditional peaceful settlement. For failing to heed Chaka Zulu’s wisdom of strength, he is paying the price of public disclosure and what some may describe as public humiliation. However, folks let us not forget that this is not humiliation at all. The man has really not done anything wrong or violated any laws of Ghana. The mistake may perhaps be a small mistake in judgment, coming from adaptation of two conflicting cultures, Western and traditional. This man has not violated any laws of Ghana. He has not hurt any person, at the private or public level. He has not beaten this Rebecca woman to a pulp Ghanaian style, for her alleged misbehavior and infidelity of 11 years ago; and neither has he kicked her out or taken her back to the village to cut firewood and carry plantain to eke out a living. Let’s face it folks, Honorable P.C. Appiah Ofori has not caused any financial loss to the state of Ghana. Many in his party are tying to get back at him because he stands for something that the President talked about only in words and cannot deliver. The detractors are afraid his criticisms may hurt them: zero tolerance for corruption! Men must live by their conscience and when serving others integrity and trust must be paramount. When a member of our GLU forum demanded and I asked him on Saturday, the Honorable told me he paid his car loan that was given to MPs quickly. The man is well respected and liked. Despite the fact that the NPP tried to find somebody to stand against him in his own constituency, report showed he would win even if he stood as an independent. He was removed from the Chairmanship of the Parliamentary Committee on Appropriations or other such committee. Ghana needs a President of the caliber of Hon. P.C. Appiah Ofori. Many parties such as the new Ghana National Party would be very pleased to have such a man contest for the Presidential position on their platform since they stand for what most political platforms cannot openly show they can stand for, i.e., utmost integrity and service to the communities.
Let’s be honest with ourselves as men. Many would love to the have the reputation of Honorable P.C. Appiah Ofori. Let us leave him alone!