The Tractor Spillover; Mahama Ayariga slights the government ...

Wed, 17 Feb 2010 Source: Nyarko, Kingsley

and underprivileged Farmers

When politicians are seeking power, they will do everything possible, including telling lies, pretending to have the interests of the majority at heart, when in actual fact their main agenda is to promote their own parochial interests. Most of these politicians begin hatching out a plan to plunge the economy the moment they perceive that they are more likely to form the next government. They are in politics, not because they think about making the country and the lives of the people better, but rather enrich themselves. This attitude and mentality of some of the politicians and public office holders in the country could and should be stopped. But it demands the spirit of patriotism from all and sundry (including you).

One thing we should always be mindful of is the fact that elected politicians are accountable to the people. We pay their salaries and other remunerations, and thus are obligated to discharge their duties to the citizenry in dignity and respect. And that is why I fault Mahama Ayariga, the deputy trade and industry minister designate. Although, he has been exonerated by the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice from any wrong doing regarding the allegation of abuse of office and “hijacking” of five tractors meant for underprivileged farmers, a decision which appears to be controversial, I think his lack of judgment and arrogance in relation to his responses to the allegation against him leaves much to be desired (see, I will purchase more tractors if… www.myjoyonline.com, 11.2.2010).

How can an individual who lacks judgment be nominated for a governmental portfolio in the first place? A presidential spokesperson, who saw nothing wrong in purchasing five tractors, which were not meant for people of his caliber, but rather ordinary farmers who needed the facility to boost their production base, and thereby making enough food available in our kitchens. The most annoying aspect of his lack of civility is his assertion that if he got the opportunity to show the country the big finger again, he would do it with impunity. Listen to him “If there are tractors for sale again and I have money to go and deposit for them, if I can deposit for 10, 15 or 20 and send them to most deprived regions which……I will continue to do what I can to support the poor farmers to access tractor services,”. Honestly, as Tobies George Smollett once said, “Some people are wise. Some people are otherwise.” In the first place, Mr Ayariga, if you do have money as you seem to suggest, why don’t you go to the market and purchase your tractors instead of what the state has provided for her poor farmers. The argument is not about your purchasing the tractors, instead, it’s about your selfishness, greed, and insensitivity to the plight of the down trodden. If the president were strong and indeed frown on corruption, he would have fired you long ago, I tell you.

Sir, your assertion that “how many of those underprivileged farmers can afford ¢180million to buy one single tractor?”is the most unfortunate. Are you thus suggesting that the government was wrong in instituting that policy? Or you are the only person in the country that is “so rich” to afford five tractors at that price. Because you’ve suddenly found yourself in money, you have the guts to talk down to our neglected poor farmers, right? What a pity! You have not even told us how you were able to afford 900 million cedis to acquire those five tractors after being in government for only four months. I wonder why the president, who has been touted as being a man of integrity allowed you to continue as his spokesman, until the reshuffle some days ago. If I were you, and thank God I’m not, I would have eaten humble pie and quit the administration to spare the government of this embarrassment of cosmic proportions. You were all over town accusing the former president of abusing his office when his son, and not him bought a hotel; but you should be allowed to go free. What kind of hypocrisy and double standard is this? I hope this time around, our members of parliament will allow the interests of the country to prevail over entrenched political leanings—and deny you from becoming a deputy minister of state at the trade and industry ministry. I’m afraid if parliament approves your nomination, you will definitely do the nation more harm than good (use your office to acquire more state “tractors”).

To intimate that most underprivileged farmers cannot get the money to access these tractors is to say that the government is “stupid” to have instituted that policy. You are not only rubbishing the value of the policy, but rather questioning its integrity. Mr. Mahama Ayariga is just saying that the policy was just a mere window dressing which was outmoded at birth. To put it bluntly, this former spokesman of the president is just revealing to the world that the policy was a smokescreen, and that the real intention of the government was to make those facilities available to government officials and people who are well connected to those who wield power at the presidency.

Instead of he alone “stealing” five of the tractors, he should have known that, but for his selfishness, some of the so-called “undeserving” underprivileged farmers could have come together to purchase a tractor. As much as I’m not enthused about the behavior of Mr. Ayariga, I’m equally disappointed by the action of the president in nominating such a “character” for a ministerial consideration. This is obviously not a better Ghana, but rather a broken Ghana—a country where government officials and corrupt politicians are allowed to prey on innocent poor citizens who work their tails off to earn only peanuts.

And it’s a shame that the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), in their rush to appease those at the corridors of power grossed over the moral dimension of the issue in adjudicating the matter. The tricky questions for me are these: would he have been given the green light to purchase the five tractors if he were an ordinary citizen, farmer, or outside the government? If I had placed an order for even two of the tractors as an ordinary citizen, would they have given me the opportunity to buy them? Or did he use his proximity to the presidency (presidential spokesperson) to front for others? These unanswered questions are very critical in getting to the bottom of this convoluted, but superficially handled case.

In winding up, I would implore our public office holders, politicians, and those with authority to endeavor to eschew practices such as the one addressed above in order to grow our ailing economy. As a nation, we should be able to change our fortunes (from poverty to prosperity). And how can we chalk this feat if we cowardly allow a few self-centered and self-seeking individuals to dwindle our already dimmed light of progress. Constitutional bodies, such as the CHRAG should be bold in ensuring that matters of this nature are treated not with kid’s gloves, but rather with “macho gloves”—I mean with austerity. They should be bold in ensuring that corrupt persons, are slogged when they are caught pants down. God bless Ghana!!

Source: Kingsley Nyarko, PhD, Psychologist & Educational Consultant, IAF- Munich, (kingpong73@yahoo.com)

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Columnist: Nyarko, Kingsley