The Hydra-Headed Woyome, Caveat Emptor

Thu, 9 Feb 2012 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

By Sydney Casely-Hayford, Sydney@bizghana.com

We are going through a Governance litmus test. At the end of 2012 Ghana will have transitioned its fledgling democracy to a nation state where the rule of law has finally become a true pillar for fighting corruption; and politicians will finally realize that we will change our Government when we are dissatisfied with economic progress and governance.

Woyome has made history and the NDC Government will remember him not for the word “gargantuan” in the media but the impact he will have on our democracy from the ghc518million gifted to him.

With the story finally seeing some traction, we are certain about a few things. Alfred Woyome was paid an obscene amount of money (ghc51.8million) by any country’s standards. Our most recent Attorney Generals are all somehow linked to this event. Betty Mould Iddrisu through a lack of attention to detail, Martin Amidu from a botched attempt to warn off interference in his job and Benjamin Kumbuor, may become the A-G who finally severs the “hydra-headed Woyome”.

But Woyome’s folly spreads beyond himself, the NDC and those named in the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) report. I noticed an Obituary notice in the Daily Graphic of 2nd February 2012 for Mrs. Marie Vivian Abla Dogbe (nee Woyome). Alfred Agbesi Woyome is named as a nephew. More importantly, the first name of chief mourners is Vice President John Dramani Mahama.

Reading and listening to media reports I am leaning toward a guilty end for Mr. Woyome. The fall out form his guilt will trap Betty Mould and some complicity in the Ministry of Finance. Finance Legal Counsel Paul Asimenu is somehow linked to this debacle and State prosecuting Counsel, Nerquaye Tetteh and his wife. But there is more to come.

I learnt as far back as primary school that title does not pass with stolen goods. I bought a Parker pen from a school buddy. I paid good money for it and I was very pleased with my pen. I wore it in the top pocket of my shirt every day and I was proud of the marks from the good quality scribble I penned every test. About 3 weeks after I had the pen, I was called to the Headmistress’ office to answer how I got the pen. I explained my purchase but I had to give up the pen. My friend had been sent home and never came back. I was very upset and made a lot of fuss for a refund of my purchase. Never got it. Back home that night, I reported the whole incident to my father and soon after lobbied my Grandfather for some form of restitution. I had no rights to the stolen property and this was explained to me on the principle of Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware. Under the doctrine of caveat emptor, a buyer cannot recover from a seller, defects on property that rendered the property unfit for ordinary purposes. The only exception is if the seller actively concealed latent defects or otherwise made material misrepresentations amounting to fraud. I was devastated, this was four weeks’ of pocket money and I had no recourse. But the money came back to me in a company law exam some fifteen years later when a trick question tripped up most of my classmates, except me. Caveat Emptor is engrained in my genes.

If Woyome is found guilty of crime, the NDC should get ready to refund any stolen property they received for funding party activity. There are rumors that the $20million head office building is a Woyome-funded project. There could be some evidence of where their sentiments lie as NDC Party Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei and Communication person Richard Quashigah were at the Police Headquarters to “sympathise” with his arrest and I have heard rumors that an NDC group from the Volta Region picketed the NDC Headquarters in Accra to protest that “one of their own” was unfairly treated. So far all rumors.

But this is not only about the NDC. We also have some churches and NGOs who benefited largely from Woyome. There are individuals as well who have had large calabashes filled by the Woyome. The NPP allegedly also received some funding from Mr. Woyome. There is no right to stolen property.

Now that the Economic and Organised Crimes Office and Deputy Information Minister Samuel Ablakwa have told us and so we know President Mills either lied or did not remember that he had instructed that the debt should not paid, we have partial confirmation of media speculation of power blocs in the NDC. Did someone not tell the President that all this was going on? Was it kept from him on purpose? Is there a group in the Castle who wield power independently apart from the President’s cabinet and advisors?

The Finance Minister has explained his role. Who therefore went behind him and others in the hierarchy and had enough clout to push the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) to issue a cheque for this amount? There is no way to issue a cheque of this sum without the Finance Minister’s input. There is no way the Attorney General can instruct the CAGD to issue a cheque on the Consolidated fund without the Finance Minister’s say so. If a message comes directly from the Castle to the CAGD it is an “abnormal” request and must have enough :big man” connotation to by-pass the Finance Ministry. If we follow the trail of money and trace all documents to and from the President’s office, we will unearth the truth.

NDC party Chairman Dr. Kwabena Adjei has also started beating the war drums with his letter to the President and Jerry John Rawlings.

Our democracy will now leap from this point. There has never been a mightier test of Institutional independence than this and if the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament fails to nail the complicit parties, we will find a way as aborigines to get to the bottom of this issue.

We have only two pillars left. The Press and the will of the people in the December 2012 elections.

Luckily, the clock is ticking away for December 2012 and it is the biggest expression of our will. Caveat Emptor to all the Woyome recipients. Ghana has grown up.

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney