By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
A question continues to nag me: Was the Kufuor administration really corrupt? If it was, what is the NDC government’s agenda for tackling the issue to set the records straight? Don’t tell me it’s too early to take up such an issue. Many tongues have been wagging for far too long and any official action on the issue will still them and relieve the owners of worry. Where is Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, alias “General Mosquito,” the NDC General Secretary? Where is your list? Produce it now for us all to know who did what corrupt thing under Kufuor. Long before the NDC won the elections, this man had made public pronouncements to the effect that the party had compiled a list of all those NPP functionaries whose corrupt activities had come to the notice of the NDC. I say, produce the list for the NDC government to act on it now! Anything short of effective action to deal drastically with the situation will erode public confidence in the NDC and create conditions for its popularity to wane. Once the NDC (in opposition) led Ghanaians to point accusing fingers at Kufuor and his team, the onus lies on it now to settle issues. It must not stop at the point of only making the allegation but must expose them to be punished. Here is the justification for my stance. Day-in-day-out, the public has been made to believe that our politicians and their cronies have skeletons in their cupboards and that holding public office has become an opportunity to fleece the national coffers through all forms of subterfuge and open thievery. This perception has sunk deep into the public domain and virtually eroded public confidence in officialdom. Taking stern action to punish the perpetrators will claw back public confidence and respect for public office.
One of the major campaign issues raised by the NDC against the NPP machinery was the constant allegation of corruption at all levels of the Kufuor-led administration. Buoyed by the persistent attacks on Kufuor by Jerry Rawlings (Remember the “Kufuor nie… Ata Ayi niee…” refrain?), the NDC’s functionaries went to every distance in the party’s anti-NPP politicking to suggest that the “scent” was everywhere! Thus, the NPP administration was constructed as sitting on a cesspool of corruption and dragging all willing “souls” into it. The NDC made so much political capital out of this issue as to make Kufuor and his appointees uncomfortable even though they put up straight faces and managed to brave the storm to a point. As if he didn’t know how to handle the calumny, Kufuor himself worsened matters when he made impolitic public statements about the spate of corruption. Who will be uncaring all too soon to forget his senseless remark that corruption had existed since the days of Adam and that it was not a new thing for anybody to taunt his government with? Or that if anybody had any evidence against any of his appointees, he should go to the police and not ask him to act on it? Or, again that he would not depend on any newspaper publication to take action against any of his appointees being accused of corruption?
Can we so soon forget the Richard Anane case? Or Harona Esseku’s effusions against Kufuor over the “kickback” saga? How about the spate of wife-snatching and wanton award of contracts left and right for personal gains? Again, how about the acquisition of state lands in Accra (and elsewhere) and the dishing out of newly constructed estates to NPP functionaries in reprehensible circumstances that chafed everybody else but the beneficiaries of the Kufuor government’s unconscionable largesse? The list goes on, and the NDC knows it too. President Mills cannot tell us that he is ignorant about these issues. The virtually brazen and rampant manner in which official vehicles were taken out of the official pool by the NPP’s functionaries and the consequent uncoordinated actions that the Transitional Team authorized that led to the forcible retrieval of most of those vehicles from them (including Kufuor himself) are too fresh in our minds as enough evidence of the horrible instances of impropriety that went on and must be investigated and dealt with to deter any recurrence. Ghanaians are waiting to see how the NDC government will tackle those allegations that it took the forefront to raise. The time has come to bell the cat.
Or, is the new wine itself ready to be turned sour all too soon by the remnants of the old wine in the old wine bottle? These politicians have given me cause not to trust them, anyway. They appear to be like camels that don’t want to make fun of each other’s hump.
But the NDC will be shooting itself in the foot if it doesn’t deal with this issue of corruption that it has already raised against the NPP. The writing is on the wall that its political fortunes will evaporate if it fails to give Ghanaians any early signal that it will tackle the issue with the seriousness it deserves. The NDC government must learn from its own immediate misfortunes under the Kufuor government and use that experience as the motivation to redeem itself. After all, its political opponents haven’t yet ceased accusing the party of corruption under the Rawlings administration.
One potent political tool that helped the NPP in its campaign of demonization against the NDC was the prosecution and incarceration of those NDC functionaries who held public office under Rawlings, which somehow confirmed the NPP’s loudmouthed allegations of corruption against the Rawlings government. More harm would have been done to the NDC’s standing had the NPP been more committed to dealing with the issue; but its desire to fight corruption flagged as its functionaries (including Kufuor himself) discovered opportunities to turn public office into an occasion for unstoppable jamboree. Despite public show of force, the NPP couldn’t prosecute the former NDC Chief Executive Officers of the Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies to add to the NDC’s woes. However, its ability to get some former Ministers and top-level NDC functionaries jailed or even prosecuted further dented the NDC’s public image. We all know the effect.
Now, the tide has turned and the NDC feels empowered enough to accuse the Kufuor government of the very malfeasance that had led to the demonization of the NDC. Will the NDC government use the laid-down legal procedures to line up all these NPP functionaries for prosecution and punishment if found guilty? Fighting corruption in officialdom is a national duty that must be carried out with all the force at the government’s disposal. It’s a civic responsibility. There is no doubt that anything short of that will deflate the NDC and embolden the NPP functionaries to torment the Mills government, which will pave the way for the kind of politics for the 2012 elections that the NDC cannot cope with. The Ministry of Information has already begun being reactive in rebutting condemnatory remarks from the NPP, which shouldn’t be the case.
I think that any immediate action will silence all these loudmouthed madcaps in the NPP who are known for their underhand contract benefits but are going about, making ugly noise as if they are still in power. Take Arthur Kennedy, for instance, whose shady contract at the Ministry of Health is no secret. Yet, he is out there, taunting the NDC of an impending implosion and mocking President Mills as a “weak” leader. I say, take him on and let him face the music if indeed that contract is investigated and found to be improperly given to him. It is then that he will know what the real “hell” is for the NPP-in-opposition.
Then, take on Kwadwo Mpianim and all those who were known to be part of the NPP’s grand agenda for the looting of state property. Have we not heard of the shredding of official documents at the Osu Castle just before the NPP left office?
Then, include Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi-Hughes, the former Speaker of Parliament, too for all that he did to state property. I don’t like the manner in which the Legislature itself is approaching the issue. I suspect that someone is doing overtime to sweep the matter under the rug. It shouldn’t be so. Some of the major issues to be immediately investigated seriously include: the redenomination of the country’s currency and how much it cost; the disbursement of over five billion Cedis by the Kufuor government in respect of security services’ participation in the 2008 general elections; the handling of funds for the celebration of Ghana@50; the collapse of Ghana Airways; numerous dubious contract awards at the District, Municipal, and Metropolitan Assemblies; the numerous cocaine cases; the underhand parceling out of state lands to NPP functionaries; and many more that people will willingly lead investigators to.
Then, the government must release all these findings into the public domain. Let the public digest all these issues. All efforts must be made to proactively keep the ball on issues rolling.
For now, Ghanaians are patiently waiting to see what the NDC government can do to confirm the allegations of massive corruption that it has levelled against the Kufuor government. They will not forget it and President Mills must not deceive himself that the dust on those allegations will settle soon. If his government doesn’t do anything definitive on the matter, it will be moving gradually toward placing the tool in the hands of the electorate with which to nail the NDC’s coffin at the next polls. Trust Ghanaians to refer to such inadequacies at the appropriate time. It is time to prove to all that he who rides the horse of greed at a gallop will pull it up at the door of shame.