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‘TARZAN’ and the Public’s Perception of ‘Arrogance’

Mon, 29 Jun 2009 Source: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw

-The Case For and Against

Yaw Opare-Asamoa


I have met the man Charles Yves Wireko-Brobbey,TARZAN, at close quarters once. He came off as a very intelligent man who knows his stuff; and he spares no opportunity to let you know that. His ‘fortunes’ on the Ghanaian political scene has been rather chequered, at best. To many people he personifes the word ‘arrogant’, but is that really the case? I am here to present the facts as I know them. Afterall for those who have already made up their minds, either way, they need no article from me to convince them otherwise. There are four or five events that I want to mention here.

I have observed and followed Tarzan’s political career (words and deeds), at least what I know of it, from a distance. The first and only ‘direct’ contact with him was when he set up the ‘famous’ Radio Eye FM. I have always been for free speech and the right to express it so I was amongst the thousands of Ghanaians that responded positively to his ‘capitalisation’ drive through the public sale of Radio Eye shares. I received receipts and documentations to that effect. I was very optimistic about this ‘enterprise’ but Jeremiah K. Rawlings and the NDC had other ideas. Thanks to them Radio Eye was ‘dead-on-arrival’. The question then was what happens to the monies already paid? Well it was an investment and the investment had failed so that was it! I can understand that, but what got me was the failure of ‘Tarzan’ to send out any formal letter to that effect. There was no correspondence whatsoever. I don’t know about the others but, personally, I never heard a word about Radio Eye or the shares again. The ‘show’ was over and as far as he was concerned that was it! That certainly did not seem right but I left it alone. I certainly believed that he was a better man than that and he would do better. That notwithstanding I was still ready to give him the benefit of the doubt, any day, on any matter. That has always been my philosophy-give the other person enough time to do right and be prepared to listen to the other side. Was there something in his ‘nature’ that made him ‘forget’ to send out letters to the ‘shareholders’ or even to place a public announcement in any newspaper? (If he did something of the sort, I have no knowledge of, and I stand corrected) Or maybe the political environment, amidst all that was going on then, made him concentrate on other more important matters. I guess I will never know the answer to that. The second event was when I heard him on a radio panel discussion on Joy FM. I am not sure of the exact date but I think the host was either Kofi Owusu or Gabby Adjetey. After other members of the panel had given their opening remarks, Tarzan used his turn to say, and I paraphrase here, that: he was expecting an intelligent discussion and he hopes that would happen. The host assured him that would be the case. I could not believe my ears. Here you are on a panel and what makes you think the discussion would be ‘unintelligent’? And why such a comment after opening statements from other panel members? Hmmm!! Was this a fellow who thought too highly of himself or believed too much in his intelligence? Well, I got answers to these questions at a later event. ‘Tarzan’ was once again being interviewed, on TV, he actually talked about the opportunity provided him by his parents and the fact that he utilized the opportunity by staying in school and studying. He went for his PhD and he completed successfully and he continued to tell us about how smart and intelligent he was. I remember telling myself at the time that he is not the only PhD in the country, what is he talking about? Don’t get me wrong, I cannot begrudge anybody for believing in his/her abilities but I mean that was a bit over the top if you ask me. Was it just a matter of overconfidence or arrogance? He was later to fall out with the NPP, after which he formed his own Political party (UGM). Seriously I believed he had some pretty good ideas and policies but I also knew that public perception of his personality would make it impossible for him to get elected. I do admit some Ghanaians can put aside personal differences and look at the bigger picture but if truth be told the majority of Ghanaians would not vote for you if there is any tint of or air of arrogance associated with or around you. He was also perceived as a ‘sell-out’ for weakening the chances of the then strongest opposition party-NPP. I know there are many Ghanaians who had never forgiven him for that. I pause to ask; was he really aware of the public perception of his image? If he was, he did very little to show it. Or he just couldn’t be bothered? Maybe?? No matter what I think/thought of Tarzan, I believe his appointment to VRA was the best use of his expertise and knowledge. Yeah, yeah, I know Akwesi Pratt has just said that appointment was ‘Kufuor’s biggest mistake’, but that is Pratt’s opinion. ‘Tarzan’s tenure at VRA saw the Authority (VRA) self-finance a major electrification project for the first time in its existence. What that told me was Ghana can benefit so much from VRA with some efficiency!! But the employees at VRA thought otherwise. They complained about ‘Tarzan’s management style. From the little I know of Tarzan I could just imagine how the atmosphere was like at VRA. But since when did ‘management style’ become a crime? When you go to work, your boss does not have to like you (and vice versa) but you still have to do your job. He counted the accusations by saying he’s had to ensure that workers report to work on time and leave when they are scheduled to. What were the workers doing before then? Were they going to and leaving work anytime they wanted? Yes, I know it happens in Ghana but I thought VRA was different from the Ministries. Alas, I thought wrong! There was this other charge against him, that he had built a bathroom within his office complex. The concept of taking showers, to freshen up and think clearly, at work was certainly alien to Ghanaians then. He had misappropriated funds and he had to go.

I was so disappointed when the Kufuor administration could not stand up behind Tarzan. He (Kufuor) capitulated, as he did in many other instances, and removed him. But he (Kufuor) would back Richard Anane and re-instate him after his…his…. Unbelievable!!!

The VRA episode had ‘painted’ Tarzan in such a bad light that it was incomprehensible and even irresponsible for Kufuor to appoint him to oversee the Ghana@50 celebration. I believe that just the mere sight of Tarzan as CEO of Ghana@50 put some people off and they wrote off the entire celebrations. On the flipside it was an opportunity for Tarzan to ‘redeem’ his image in the public eye. Did he succeed? I guess we will find out soon enough when the dust finally settles on the Ghana@50 Enquiry. Already Tarzan has thrown the first challenge to the Commission: he claims he used his own money to ‘save’ the celebration. W-H-A-T???? Who asked him to? If there is no law against such, Parliament should immediately put one in place. No public official should ‘lend’ his/her personal money to the State for any reason and under any circumstance. You are always welcome to donate for free but not lend! How do we ascertain the truth about something like that? I mean there are too many avenues and loopholes for abuse.


He was invited to appear before Parliament in his capacity as CEO of Ghana@50 but he refused to show up. Actually he told Parliament he was not going and he didn’t. He gave some convoluted excuse that the Chief of Staff was the one to go. The Chief of Staff was not the CEO of Ghana@50. It was ‘Tarzan’ Parliament wanted to question and not the Chief of Staff. Now he, ‘Tarzan’, is telling us that he used his own money because there was a shortfall and the ‘celebration’ could not wait for Parliamentary approval. Is it not possible that this alleged ‘shortfall’ could have been sorted out in Parliament if he had honoured the invitation? It is reported that he told ‘Times’ that “the committee took the decision in anticipation of the normal delays associated with the release of funds by government” In his own words he said “This covered the period from January to December 2006 when the government reimbursed me” We need some clarification here and I hope the Commission would provide some answers. Is he saying that for the whole of 2006, the Ghana@50 received no funds from the government? Or is it that he ‘supplemented’ with his own money throughout the entire period of January to December 2006? Sometimes it pays to pick one’s fights so that one does not challenge everything and anything. Tarzan is reported to have challenged the Auditor-General’s report that said “...only one of the 25 toilets earmarked for construction was completed” Let’s listen to Tarzan’s version of what the ‘true’ situation is “..substantial work was done on all of them although none of them was fully completed” I leave this to you, dear reader, to analyze it anyway you want.

Nobody should be made to feel so ‘big’ so as to refuse to appear before Parliament. Rather sadly our ‘toothless’ Parliament sat down and watched him flout their summons. If we really want this democracy to work and make sure public officials are accountable, we should do everything to strengthen the institutions of State that are supposed to work on our behalf and in our interest. To me, that was a very bad precedent. How do we make the next person appear before Parliament when invited? What if this individual refuses to appear based on Tarzan’s example? I wish the Commission’s work will be opened to the public so we can all follow proceedings. I hope that due process is followed and true facts established.

Written and submitted on June 25, 2009

Columnist: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw