This Ford Expedition vehicle gift is a non-issue

Ford MaMahama

Wed, 22 Jun 2016 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Folks, isn't it intriguing that despite all that has been happening about the gift of a Ford Expedition vehicle to President Mahama by the Burkinabe contractor, the Lion of Gonja hasn't bothered to say anything at all? Why? And how does his abject silence reflect on the matter?

I appreciate his show of maturity in not allowing himself to be drawn into the intrigues. And interestingly, although the NPP has rushed to make ugly noise about the issue, its Akufo-Addo has chosen not to comment on it. Only he knows why!! His vacuous claim that he won't be in office to accept bribes is as lame as he can't deal with. We know how Ghanaian lawyers do things!!

In reacting to the matter, several voices have created the impression that the President did the wrong thing by accepting the gift even if he didn't use it personally. Some have even suggested that he should apologize for what happened and return the vehicle to the donor or pay for it.

I twist my nose at those calling for an apology as if it is the solution to the needless dust-storm. It is a trap being set for President Mahama, which I will encourage him to see and side-step. Apologize? No!!

Here is why: According to Cupach and Metts (1994), “apologies admit blame and seek atonement for untoward behavior” (p. 10). (Read Cupach, W. R., & Metts, S. (1994). Facework. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.).

Apologizing means admitting that he has done something wrong and is at the mercy of those who feel wronged, which will itself become the stone on which his blind political opponents will step and pick to cast at him. No apology should be rendered because the matter itself is a non-issue. Our political history tells us what our leaders have received from whom or where all these years. What is the justification for picking on President Mahama alone?

We have already made our voices heard on the politically motivated busy work done by Multimedia's Manasseh Azure Awuni with the intents and purposes to harm President Mahama's image. We have made it clear that what Azure Awuni sought to do was to mix up issues with little regard for timeline and sequence of events, not to mention other attenuating factors. (Visit my Facebook wall to read all my comments so far).

That explains why he sought to give us a potpourri of events and utterances that couldn't mix properly in his crucible of political mischief.

1. Azure Awuni did a shoddy work with an otherwise interesting case that would have helped us refine our laws and regulations on gift-giving, bribery, and corruption in Ghana. In his indecent haste to paint President Mahama black for narrow-minded political purposes, he couldn't complete the circle of investigation.

A reasonable investigative journalist with such an issue in hand would have contacted President Mahama for his side of the story. Unfortunately, Azure Awuni didn't. He copiously quoted from the Burkinabe contractor and so-called anti-corruption experts to draw the unfortunate but pre-meditated conclusion against President Mahama.

The ethics of journalism (especially the aspect on investigative journalism) enjoin the investigator to gather evidence from the subject of the investigation. Anything short of that is unprofessional and amateurish. At least, my training at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (from 1982 to 1984) and practice at the Ghana News Agency and elsewhere thereafter has given me that benefit. How about falling below standards as is in this case of Azure Awuni? And the subject of his investigation is the fount of authority in Ghana!!

How did he set up his investigation not to know how to do it convincingly and professionally too?

Had he contacted with President Mahama to gather ideas on what exactly happened, he would have had a well-rounded investigation done. But he didn't and gave us a one-sided collage of drivel. Knowing very well that President Mahama would have something to say about the issue, why didn't he contact him to do a more professional work? Overzealously, he drew his conclusion without bothering to tie up the loose ends. How credible could that effort be, then?

2. The gift of that Ford Expedition vehicle didn't precede the award of the contract to the Burkinabe to warrant anybody's jumping to the conclusion that it was meant to buy the conscience of the President. It came long after the Burkinabe had done the contract (walling of the Ghana Embassy premises) in 2012.

Could it be seen as a "thank-you" gesture? Possible. It's not strange for appreciation to be shown as such.

Could it be seen as a way of wetting the ground for future contract awards? Possible, especially if the previous contract had been professionally executed (as is known of the Burkinabe contractor).to place the contractor on a good keel.

Could that explain why he won hearts and was poised to be given part of the eastern Corridor project? Could be; but we have been told that he has withdrawn his interest in it. Why? As a fallout from Azure Awuni's interview with him that might have given him some shockwaves? I don't know.

3. The mixing up of issues as if they all occurred at the same time. The quick reference to President Mahama's Code of Ethics for his appointees particularly created the impression that by accepting the gift, he had violated his own regimen. Of course, the vehicle had long been given before John Mahama became President and before he issued that Code.

We know of what the Constitution says and what the CHRAJ has in regard to such an issue (public officials and gifts). Even then, it is difficult to establish a conflict of interest or crime in this case (Remember that Emile Short, former head of CHRAJ himself has said that not every gift can be deemed as a bribe). So, what is what now?

4. Calls on President Mahama to apologize to Ghanaians, return the vehicle to the Burkinabe contractor, and others by the NPP Minority verging on impeachment have fallen flat. The move by the CPP youth to petition the CHRAJ to take on President Mahama is a big storm in a small tea cup. It won't go anywhere.

In point of fact, this needless political rhetoric about the Ford Expedition is already doomed. The earlier we put it behind us, the better. I have spoken!!

•Writer's e-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.