By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
March 11, 2016
A lot has been said on the 59th Independence Anniversary Brochure that has become Ghana’s International Day of Shame and therefore I intend not to repeat them but to analyse the corruption motivated incompetence of the Mahama led NDC administration that has brought Ghana into ridicule in the eyes of the world. The mistakes were so elementary that one cannot fathom how Kwame Nkrumah, J B Danquah, Akufo-Addo, Ako-Adjei, Ofori Atta and Obestebi-Lamptey of blessed memory would make of it. Perhaps they would ask the question: is this how low the Ghana they left behind has been reduced to?
From my knowledge of how such national events or functions involving the head of state and foreign dignitaries are organised, the planning and organisation are always led by State Protocol, office of the head of state and Ministry of Information. I do remember in the 1980s, after the programme had been agreed and prior to the Information Services Department (ISD) printing the necessary brochure and programme, it would have been proof read, checked and approved by the minister or the deputy (Joyce Aryee or Kofi Totobi Kwakye) and finally by the then Castle Information Bureau (the equivalent of the Communication Bureau at the Presidency), headed by Mrs Valerie Sackey and the late Mrs Shirley Ababio). Had a similar system been in place today, Ghana would not have been publicly embarrassed as it happened on Sunday, March 6, 2016.
It happened for a number of reasons. The first is that NDC has taken over national celebrations as party activity in order to claim credit for it and to use it as party political propaganda tool. There is no differentiation between party and government, consequently everything is done for political gain and not in the interest of the state. As a result, state institutions are disregarded or replaced by the party.
The second is official corruption that has reached unprecedented levels to extent that any activity or project becomes an avenue for public officials, especially political appointees to make some money for both self and the party. To facilitate the corruption, laid down rules and regulations are ignored and contracts awarded to cronies through sole sourcing and for a share of the highly inflated cost of the contract.
The other reason as I have been saying for years is the non-compliance and enforcement of laws, rules and regulations. According to media reports, Event PR the company which was awarded the contract to print the brochure is owned by Stan Dogbe, his wife, sister and the dismissed Acting Director of ISD, Mr Francis Kwarteng Arthur. I am not aware of the bidding process but because of serious conflict of interest, Stan Dogbe and the ISD Acting Director should have had nothing to do with the award of the contract. In addition to recusing themselves from the bidding process, they should have registered their interests on paper. Failure to do so is a punishable offence, including dismissal and prosecution.
Another reason is the fashion of “the square pegs in round holes appointment” by the Mahama government. Both Stan Dogbe and Mr Francis Kwarteng Arthur are not fit for the positions they occupy. In fact, Stan Dogbe should have been sacked and prosecuted for damaging state property when he attacked a GBC journalist and destroyed his equipment. According to the staff of ISD, Mr Kwarteng Arthur was not qualified for the role of Acting Director but was appointed for political reasons.
There is also the fiefdom syndrome within both party and government machinery, where groups and individuals hold allegiance to cabals of powerful party apparatchiks and therefore some people are considered invincible, no matter what their crimes are. The appointing authority is constrained by party unity and interest to let go such abominable acts by lawless, incompetent, corrupt and criminal appointees.
Last but not the least, is the weakness of the president. President Mahama is a very weak leader, shy of reprimanding his appointees. In fact, he was seen showing President Uhuru Kenyatta the brochure designating his guest as President of Ghana and smiling, instead of showing his anger and embarrassment. Jerry Rawlings would have ordered all senior officials who were responsible for this national disgrace to explain to him why the mistakes were not corrected before giving them the marching orders. Yet, up to the time of writing, we have only heard of the dismissal of Mr Kwarteng Arthur. What about Stan Dogbe who is the main culprit? Who is protecting him?
The attempt to describe the role of Ghana, the partnership with Kenya, what the colours of the national flag represent and Ghana’s position on the globe was bizarre and ludicrous. What the hell were they thinking? Who told them the position of Ghana on the global map was by divine act? Even creationists know that the boundaries of Ghana and many developing countries were the arbitrary acts of European colonialists and not by any act of God. What a load of NDC propaganda madness?
The way Mr Kwarteng Arthur willingly accepted responsibility for the errors was laughable. He appeared to be freely confessing his crimes as if he was possessed by demons. In reality, he was being dictated to and ordered by Stan Dogbe to admit liability in order to cover up by his own role. Stan Dogbe can fool Mahama but not the people of Ghana because Ghanaians would want to know how much of their taxes were used to pay the company that Stan Dogbe, his relatives and cronies own. Event PR must refund all the money paid to it back to the state for doing shoddy work and bringing Ghana’s name into international disrepute. Stan Dogbe and Kwarteng Arthur should be prosecuted for breaching the Procurement Act.
It was also reported that President Uhuru Kenyatta was left stranded in the hot sun after the event because his official car was blocked in the parking lot by other cars. It appears President Mahama and the Foreign Minister have no manners on how guests should be treated. By tradition, it is incumbent on the host to see their guest off first but President Mahama left first with his guest stranded. This is a very serious national security lapse because Kenyatta is a leader that the Somali terrorists group (Al-Shabaab) would love to assassinate due to Kenya’s direct involvement in the Somali conflict. His official car should have been under the watchful eye of the security agents in Ghana so that no vehicle could have blocked it and would have been ready and available to convey him immediately after the function. In fact, he should have left together with the presidential convey.
On an unrelated matter, it has been claimed that both Ex-President Rawlings and Nana Akufo-Addo were inappropriately dressed for the occasion. Rawlings wore his Alma Mater’s cloth as top and l later received a video clip of him and his wife dancing agbaja on the grounds of Achimota School so he was ready for his Alma Mater and not Ghana. On the other hand, Nana Akufo-Addo wore a nice white shirt but probably left the top buttons undone because of the heat. However, he appeared too ordinary when Presidents Mahama and Kenyatta exchanged pleasantries with him. He should have buttoned up at that moment.
Probably, because he was criticised for wearing suits and not connecting with ordinary people during the 2008 campaign, he now wants to appear as a common person. In the 2012 campaign he was seen eating with ordinary people in rural Ghana and continuing to shed off his old image. In the process, he is overdoing it and may end up causing more harm than good. He should be himself but must know when to dress appropriately for the occasion. There is a vast difference between a cow and a pig. Nana Akufo-Addo cannot be both at different times. One minute, he is presidential and another, the ghetto boy in the street. The two are incompatible because he comes across as pretending to be ordinary when he is not. In fact, trying to be ordinary does not suit his personality or image.
In conclusion, we all make mistakes and in fact, to err is human. Indeed, in the publishing industry, there is one error commonly known as “the printer’s devil”. This is the type of error that eludes not only the eyes of seasoned proof readers but also the microscopic eye of the editor-in-chief only to be noticed after publication. Though minor, it could change the meaning of a word, sentence or make a whole sentence meaningless and cause embracement. Others are misspelling of a word or name, etc. BUT there are certain mistakes that are unpardonable and the ones contained in the 59th Independence Brochure were certainly criminal. March 6, 2016 will forever remain Ghana’s Day of international shame and ridicule because of incompetence, corruption, party political interest and weak leadership.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
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