The Auditor General versus the President: The waning sands of patriotism

The Ben1 Columnist, Amankwa Benjamin Kwame

Sun, 5 Jul 2020 Source: Amankwa Benjamin Kwame

In a letter dated 29th June, 2020 entitled ‘Akufo-Addo directs auditor general to take his accumulated annual leave’, the president of the republic of Ghana, his Excellency president Akufo Addo under the guise of the labour act, 2003 (Act 651) specifically sections 20 (1) and 31 has directed the venerable auditor general, Mr. Daniel Domelevo to proceed on a supposed accumulated annual leave of one hundred and twenty-three (123) days with effect from Wednesday, 1st July, 2020.

In paragraph two of the mentioned letter, it was stated among other things that the labour act applies to all public workers like the Auditor-General and further states that, a worker is entitled to an annual leave with full pay, in a calendar year of continuous service, which cannot be relinquished or foregone by the worker or the employer.

I have been out of the media space for some time, so when this letter was sent to me by a lawyer friend, my first reaction was that it might be part of the usual social media stunt to be expected in an election year. When I later heard the news in the evening news bulletin, I did not know whether to cry or to laugh at Ghana. I have no legal qualification, so I dare not go into the legal gymnastics between the president and the Auditor-General depicted in their replies and counter replies. One thing however drew a common sense attention to the directive by the president.

In a reply to the president’s letter dated, 3rd July, 2020, entitled “RE: ACCUMULATED ANNUAL LEAVE- MR DANIEL YAW DOMELEVO”, the Auditor-General in paragraph nine stated the following;

“I have been constrained to make the points above as a result of the following main observations;

Previous correspondence from the chairman of the Audit Service Board (who works at the office of the senior minister) together with public pronouncement by ministers make it clear that the Auditor-Aeneral’s work is embarrassing the government

The office must have been aware also that several appointees of the president, have not, since the year 2017 taken their annual leave to date. The direction therefore that I proceed on leave, oblivious of the other workers similarly circumstanced, gives the impression that the decision is not taken in good faith.

In the Kroll and Associates vs. The Auditor-General, the Supreme Court offered the lawyers 10 days from 24th June, 2020 to bring their written submissions and the Auditor-General is to inspect documents or evidence of work done for the senior minister before going back to the Supreme Court”.

The most interesting and intriguing point in this banter is another letter in the public domain dated 2nd July, 2020 (that is three days after the Auditor-General had left office) entitled “INSPECTION OF DOCUMENTS” on the letter heard of the Auditor-General. In this letter, signed by Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, the acting Auditor-General, copied to the chairman of the Audit Service Board, the message is simple and short; “Reference to our letter dated 30/6/2020 and yours dated 30/6/2020, and the inspection of the documents in your office on 2/7/2020.

2. we wish to state that we are satisfied with the process and therefore propose that the lawyers inform the supreme court accordingly to enable the parties go back to the High Court to continue with the proceedings in that court’

The issues raised by the Auditor-General in his reply to the president, specifically issues number one and three as noted above seem to be alive and well. The Auditor-General is seemingly embarrassing the government and the Kroll and Associates case is one of the many instances of this.

For the acting Auditor- General to hurriedly write to the senior minister that his office is satisfied with the process of inspection of documents as directed by the Supreme Court barely three days after the Auditor-General has started his accumulated leave, an issue the Auditor General made reference to in his letter, raises eyebrows and call into question the real reason behind the president’s directive for the Auditor-General to proceed on leave.

Mr. Yaw Domelevo has in recent years become a one-man army at least according to general public perception, fighting against corruption. In a letter dated 8th May, 2020, the Auditor-General, Mr. Daniel Yaw Domelevo advised the chief of staff not to heed to a request by a group of charlatans under the name ‘forum for former members of parliament of the fourth republic’ who seek to take millions from the state because of their political network. This and many other acts of integrity by the Auditor-General has won him the admiration of the ordinary citizens of Ghana and many have described him as patriotic.

What then is the reward for patriotism? Taking accumulated leave of office under cleverly crafted technicalities of the law directive? It is often said that if all power is in the people, if there is no higher law than their will, and if by counting their votes, their will may be ascertained, then the people may entrust all their power to anyone, and the power of the pretender and the usurper is then legitimate.

It is not to be challenged since it came originally from the sovereign people. Consistently in the fourth republic, we have elected a group of people in the fourth republic whose creed is greed and they are not patriotic but their power cannot be challenged by virtue of the fact that we have elected them.

The very few people with the necessary commitment and integrity to lead our public institutions, we have either relegated to the background or thrown a few bones so they become part of the corrupt system. Gradually, the sands of Patriotism is waning and the things we care about more are wealth without work, leadership without principle and undeserving popularity.

With the “sacking” of the Auditor-General, I doubt if patriotism is rewarding in Ghana. It might be a vain sacrifice not worthy of emulation.

The political class and administrators of Ghana must however know that physical and spiritual superiority only sees the individual. But alas, ordinarily we human beings are sensual and, therefore, as soon as it is gathering, the impression changes. We see something abstract, the crowd, and we become different. But in the eyes of God, the infinite spirit, all the millions that have lived and now live do not make a crowd, he only sees each individual.

Columnist: Amankwa Benjamin Kwame