Opinions Thu, 22 Sep 2016

Under Mahama - honesty is on a long holiday

By Ebo Quansah

I was not at the Sunyani Coronation Park for the Manifesto launch of President John Dramani Mahama and his National Democratic Congress on Saturday. I was rather at the Victoria Park in Cape Coast, where the first game of football was pioneered in the then Gold Coast on Boxing Day of 1903.

I was at Cape Coast honouring the memory of Mr. Ben Koufie, a former player of the Gold Coast Eleven, the Ghana national team, and a shining light for Vipers of Cape Coast, who rose to become one of the finest technical brains in Africa.

For the uninitiated, Mr. Koufie, whose mortal remains were interred in his hometown at the ripe age of 84, was the only technical man in Ghanaian contemporary football history to rise to become the Chairman of the Ghana Football Association.

Many people may not know this, but under Mr. Koufie’s leadership, I nearly became the General Secretary of the Ghana Football Association. I only withdrew from the race at the last minute to take up an appointment as Editor of the Public Agenda.

The weekend funeral at the Victoria Park was a football carnival with top football officials, coaches, and retired footballers gathered in their numbers to pay their last respects to the man who was football personified.

As a result of the events at the Victoria Park, I missed most of the events at Sunyani.

It was on the way back to Accra that radio relayed the key parts of the vents at the Sunyani Coronation Park, and made me follow the comedy at what used to be one of this nation’s leading centres for football rivalry.

This column has been silent of late, because I have been on a short vacation to celebrate the Akwambo Festival at Ekumfi Ekrawfo, my birthplace. I was due to resume work at The Chronicle next week, but the charade at Sunyani has brought me on my feet.

Forget about the appeal for votes from the centre of Ghana on the basis that the wife is a native of the Brong Ahafo Region. I do not believe where the Head of State’s better half originates from has ever been criterion for deciding the right use of the thumb.

Remember Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first Head of State of this Republic? His wife was an Egyptian. I am beginning to wonder how many Egyptians qualified to vote in Ghana at the time. That did not influence the way he led this country, anyway!

I have the hunch that appealing for votes on the basis of the home region of the wife, tells everything about how desperate the leader of society is at the moment. I bet, if this tribal sentiment had been expressed from the other half of the political divide, people would have queued to dismiss the harbinger of this information as not fit for leadership. But then, this is Ghana.

I saw the funny side of taking a coffin to the rally grounds to represent the burial of the main opponent for the December 7 vote. My prayer is that next time a group of political activists burn the effigy of the President in front of Government House or the Black Star Square, that spineless state creation called the Peace Council would not suddenly discover that it would amount to a declaration of war.

I bet if New Patriotic Party sympathisers had carried a coffin to its function, declaring it as the burial of President Mahama, the Peace Council, led by the former head of the Methodist Church, would have issued a statement by now, condemning it as an act of aggression. It looks like everything is normal, once the offensive is pursued by the NDC. But, once the act comes from the opposition, it is interpreted as the beating of war drums.

While we are at it, if you Google Charlotte Osei under Wikipedia, the world-wide web, you would be educated on the fact that the mother of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission is a Nigerian. Charlotte herself is listed as having been born in Nigeria. The Constitution of the Republic of Ghana is unambiguous though. To be a Commissioner of the Electoral Commission, the 1992 Constitution says a person ought to be a fully-fledged Ghanaian.

Mrs. Osei has, so far, declined to comment on her national identity. But, it is business as usual. Once it is President Mahama who appointed her, no one sees the potential conflict in her failure to declare her nationality. The Peace Council believes there is no cause for alarm.

This is the same Peace Council, whose Chair did not even know that the V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe Committee of which he was a key member, and which was supposed to advice the Electoral Commission on the validity of the voters’ register recently, had preferred validation as a key component in cleaning the register.

One of the most popular means of fellowship with each other in Methodism is the greeting: ‘Christ Ntsi, Yeye Adehye.’ Loosely translated, it reads like: ‘Because of Christ we are royals.’

I wonder how the good people of Ghana would remain royals, when we are unable to identify a true-blooded Ghanaian to lead our Electoral Commission. But that is by the way. The real issues here are how the NDC and its leaders have behaved as honest brokers of state resources.

According to the Head of State, the NDC has, over the years, been honest and transparent with Ghanaians. Read the lips of President Mahama at Sunyani: “We have demonstrated how we take Ghanaians serious, even as we ask for another mandate.”

It is my intention to take a hard look at the NDC in government, and analyze what the President and all his men and women have done with the state resources over the years.

In the mean time, it is pertinent to take one hard look at the party from its origins. Right from the birth of the political concept, which now clothes itself in the social democratic concept, honesty has been in short supply, I am afraid.

For the uninitiated, the NDC was born in Jerry Rawlings so-called revolution. I do not believe there are many Ghanaians out there who are unaware of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council experiment of 1979, when eight top military officers were tied to the stakes and executed. As you read this piece, there is no evidence of any proper trial.

That is not all! When the former Air Force pilot returned to the body politic after staging the December 31, 1981 coup d’état, three high court judges and an army officer were abducted and executed during curfew hours by a murder squad, four of whom were residing at the official residence of Jerry John Rawlings and his wife.

It is pertinent to note that the murder squad, led by Sgt. Samuel Amedeka, told the Special Investigative Board, led by Mr. Justice Azu Crabbe, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, that at the time they carried out the abduction and murders, they understood their assignment to mean that they were carrying out the command of the Provisional National Defence Council, led by Jerry John Rawlings. That was the era of unresolved murders.

It tells much about the honesty underlying the formation of the NDC as a political concept that the whole governance system was converted into a political party using resources of state.

If the evolution of the party is shrouded in secrecy, the raid on the national purse to aid party apparatchiks while in government tells a lot about the promotion of cronyism as a political concept.

It is the sign of the times that the mantra of a Better Ghana has been consigned to the dustbin without any fanfare. The evolution of the new mantra: ‘Changing Lives and Transforming Ghana’ was fraudulently sprung on Ghanaians.

The branding of the new buses of the Metro Mass Transit Company, which landed former Minister of Transport Mrs. Dzifa Attivor in trouble, was done by smuggling the new mantra on the new buses, as if the mantra was a national policy.

The same theme featured prominently on the front page of the so-called Green Book published by the Ministry of Communications with state funds chronicling so-called achievements of the NDC government. It was a fraudulent means of applying state resources for party use. If the NDC and its leadership believe that the misapplication of state-funds for party use represents honesty that is their cup of tea.

The litany of the rape on the public purse has been well chronicled by the Auditor-General’s Department over the years. It is my intention to take the issues one by one and analyze them in relations to the kind of honesty the President preached at Sunyani.

Woyome, Waterville, African Automobile, the story of the Azontaba Cottage Industry and the migration of guinea fowls from Ghana to Burkina Faso, the one-lap-top per child, under which millions of cedis were poured to aid one-man’s adventure, the rape on GYEEDA, and the US$650,000 funding of a wall in Burkina Faso and a certain gift followed by more juicy contracts to a certain Burkinabe contractor, might not have been on the menu in Sunyani. For me, they belie the honesty as a political concept the President preached in Sunyani.

The founder of the party himself has bemoaned corruption in the party that could not afford utility bills while in opposition, and now boasts of a new multimillion dollar office. It is the sign of the times that the voice of Flt-Lt. Rawlings was muted on the campaign floor at Sunyani. Honesty, as a political concept, is on a long holiday under Mahama and his NDC.

I shall return!
Columnist: Ebo Quansah