You Be Thief, I No Be Thief!

Sun, 14 Jun 2009 Source: Damptey, Daniel Danquah

When Acheampong and Utuka were tied to the state and shot like common criminals, Ghanaians did nothing. The Clergy said nothing, Traditional rulers said nothing whiles labour looked on helplessly as the yearning and baying for more blood reached a crescendo. It was as if all of us acquiesced in and applauded that dastardly act. But the two were human beings like all of us. Because of our inaction and deadly silence, the AFRC got bolder, and cheered on by students, the regime tied six more gallant but helpless creatures of God and gunned them down like animals.

That was the darkest and most bloody part of Ghana’s history. Eight down, and more were to follow. But we woke up from our deep slumber and regained our conscience and the use of our tongues. We protested and the executions stopped.

In Nigeria, Ebute Ukiwe, a former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff made a deduction. He stated that after the overthrow of the rapacious Buhari/Idiagbon regime, the AFRC was formed to oversee the affairs of the country. All members had equal powers and the Chairman, Evil Genius, Maradona Ibrahim Badamosi Babaginda was only Primus Inter Pares (First among Equals). But one day, Babaginda came to announce the dissolution of the AFRC at a meeting. According to Ukiwe, they should have challenged the Chairman at that meeting, but they did not. Their failure to do so was their undoing. Later, the evil genius was to announce the dismissal of some members, including him, Ebute Ukiwe from the council.

I have gone this length to narrate these incidents to show how a peoples’ failure to speak out when their liberties are being threatened could result in very grave consequences. About six weeks ago, I wrote a feature titled “Yeresesamu indeed”. In the concluding part, I took on the then Honourable Minister for Sports, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak on his attempts to co-erce the Black Star players who were on national assignment against the Republic of Benin into accepting a reduced winning bonus.

Many were the vociferous NDC sympathizers and fanatics who descended on me and called me imprintable names. My inbox had so many of such messages that at a stage, I refused to read them. But now that the true character of their so-called honourable minister has been revealed, are those people going to eat back their words? It is now crystal clear to all that, the disgraced sports minister wanted to have a cut of the winning bonuses if the players had agreed to his plan.

But let Ghanaians beware, for the issue is not as simple as we see, for the more you look, the less you see. I see what is going on as part of the abracadabra game of the NDC. A sinister plan has been set in motion and by the time the dust settles, it would have consumed a lot of consumables and innocent by-standers and innocent people.

When the issue of Muntaka’s take-take was published in the Ghanaian Lens, I knew something wasn’t right. My mind flashed back to what a Nigerian friend of mine told me sometime ago. He said when Chief Matthew Aremu Okikiade Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Amos Adamu to take charge of COJA, he told himself that Obasanjo had appointed a dog to take charge of the butcher’s table.

My third eye and the crystal ball revealed that something ominous was in the pipeline. I therefore set myself the task of unearthing the mystery. My findings will shock you to the marrow. But before I reveal my findings, I want my avid readers to find answers to these posers. Since when has any of the official or unofficial mouthpiece of the NDC published any negative thing about the party? Even, when some members of the Vetting Committee and the concerned public kicked against the approval of Alhaji Mumuni as Minister, did the Crystal Lens, the Ghanaian Lens, The Palaver, the Enquirer and other publications sympathetic to the cause of the NDC not come out with opinion supportive of the Minister? So, if the Lens reports on such grievous allegations against a member of the inner caucus of the party, then it smacks of something out of the ordinary.

Now, the petition to the President was made about three or more weeks ago, why should the Presidency wait till last week before making it public? And in between the time the Presidency received the petition and the time it was made public, couldn’t there have been some discreet investigations carried out? Why wait till now? And I learnt the whistle-blower has been picked up by the Police. Is that his reward for exposing the cankerworm that Muntaka Mubarak has unleashed at the Sports Ministry? Is the petitioner not entitled to some form of protection? Should his identity be exposed? And by revealing or exposing his identity, are we not exposing his life to danger? Is it not going against the whistle blowers Act?

Listening to comments from some NDC members gave me no hope of fair investigations. Comments from Inusa Fuseni, the honourable MP for Tamale Central made me feel sad. He brought in the religious colorization that it was some sort of conspiracy against Muslims. Haba! How could Inusa, a man I admire for sometimes being objective say that? He alleged both Mallam Issah and Muntaka Mubarak are Muslims and they are the two persons whose hands got soiled at the Ministry. Hon. Inusa went on to say that it is early day yet and that he had spoken to Muntaka who assured him of his innocence and that he, Inusa believes in Muntaka’s innocence. He has since been putting up very strong defence on behalf of the embattled minister. He also appealed to all to be circumspect is passing comments.

Mallam Issah gave a twist to the whole thing when he alleged that a mafia exists at the Sports Ministry and that anyone who attempts to alter the status quo will meet his/her waterloo. This, in a nutshell, is the crux of the matter, but I will attempt to tear this line of reasoning into shreds. Just read on, and the fact will begin to unfold.

Now, the question is: Were Mallam Issah and Muntaka Mubarak the only people to have held the Ministerial Portfolio for Sports? Obviously not! The longest serving Sports Minister alive today, Honourable E.T.Mensah never attracted any scandal to himself. The NPP has about three or four members who manned the Sports Ministry, including Osafo Marfo and we didn’t hear of any scandal. Why didn’t any such scandal happen during the tenure of such ministers? Or do they want to tell us that those Ministers co-operated with the non existing-cabal at the Sports Ministry that was why they never had any such problem?

All of a sudden the apostles of “jail them, they are thieves, they are criminals” are now calling for restraint and caution in the way we handle the Muntaka’s issue. Inusa Fuseini says he believes in the innocence of Muntaka but has so far refused to believe in the innocence of any of the NPP ex-ministers. Without any proof they have labeled all members of the NPP as thieve, looters and criminals. The fact that one NPP MP was busted for cocaine is not enough grounds to label NPP members as drug/cocaine peddlers or users. And if we were to go by that standard, wouldn’t we be justified to label all members of the NDC as looters, embezzlers, conmen and women, thieves, pen-robbers and unpatriotic? But we will not because we believe in the rule of law and due process.

By the way, what has Muntaka and all those defending him got to say about the relationship between him and Babgin’s secretary? If really, there was no amorous relationship between the two and the lady wanted to join in the merry-making trip at the taxpayer’s expense, all that she needed doing was to discuss it with her immediate boss who will then liaise with the sports minister to facilitate her inclusion on list. It shouldn’t have been the other way round. This is what we expect in an ideal situation.

The embattled Minister’s explanation that the Accountant and his bedfellows deliberately inflated his per-diem and prepared a voucher for $2,000.00 instead of $1,210.00 is not tenable. To buttress this point, let facts be supplied a candid world.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, one of the two deputies at the Information Ministry had stated during the newspaper review segment on TV that, a few days after assumption of office, a lady entered his office with an envelope. One enquiry, he was told it was his two weeks allowance. He told the lady he would not accept it because he had been in office for less than a week and saw no reason why he should collect an allowance for two weeks. He then called his Chief Director and told him of his encounter with the lady.

Another discussant made reference to a similar incident involving another Deputy Minister to buttress the point that one has to be circumspect in handling certain sensitive issues. From what Okudzeto Ablakwa said, if it was not made for publicity blitz, his posture contradicts the earlier defence put forth by Muntaka Mubarak. There was no payment voucher prepared for Okudzeto Ablakwa’s allowance. This is how it appears to not only me, but others that I have spoken to on the subject. If a voucher had accompanied the envelope, he would not have asked the whys and the why knots.

Secondly, was Muntaka Mubarak briefed on assumption of office as Minister for Sports? Was he not given a letter of appointment where his schedule, entitlements and other nitty-gritty were specified? If he was in difficulty, why did he not contact other sector ministers or ex ministers who had held the Sports portfolio before? Why did he not question the accountant for giving him money which he was not entitled to? Is that the only per-diem he had received up to date since his assumption of office? Did he ask for explanation as to how the total amount was arrived at? If it had been lower that the real amount, wouldn’t he have complained to the Chief Accountant?

This brings us to the question about the trip to Cote d’Ivoire and who sponsored it. Was it not the Deputy Chief of Staff who was on our air waves drumming it into the ears of everybody including those who did not want to listen that it was one Kojo Bonsu who had paid for the jamboree and that if we would not accept the explanation, we could well go and burn the sea. He did not use the above words, but his demeanor and countenance said it all. But today, we are being told a different story altogether. Now Kojo Bonsu and Alex Segbefia are asking for a refund. Wonders, they say will never end. Who is telling the truth?

Now, these same people who are today calling the shots were the very people who blamed Kojo Mpiani for what they referred to as his arrogance. How would you classify the utterances of Alex Segbefia and the embattled Sports Minister who has been asked to step aside? It was this same embattled Sports Minister who sometime ago, told the likes of Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Richard Kinston and others that if they would not accept their reduced bonus, he would not hesitate to replace the entire team with the Satellites. Now that the cat is out of the bag, we can now conjecture the motive behind the attempt to reduce their bonuses. It was to feather Muntaka Mubarak’s own nest. Who would have heard anything if Sulley Muntari had not made noise about the issue? Nobody and the man would have made some extra bucks from the sweat and toil of the patriotic Black Star players. What moral justification did Muntaka Mubarak have for attempting to do such an unthinkable act? After collecting his entitlements, both legitimate and the illegal’s, was there any justification in preventing others from getting their legal share?

And this is the person the electorate in Asawasi Constituencies have entrusted their destinies into his hands! What offence, what crime have the people committed to be saddled with this extra baggage who would not be satisfied with what nature has entrusted into his hand?

Now, to the crux of the matter. What is the NDC’s agenda in ‘exposing’ this Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak? Is it really true that the NDC as a party is genuinely interested in fighting corruption? In the first place, it must be stated that the President’s approach in fighting the issue of corruption is cosmetic in nature. The fire-brigade approach will not help stem the tide on corruption. What legal framework or policy has the government put in place to nip the canker in the bud?

Do the Police have to pick the whistle blower and put him out of circulation under the guise of carrying out investigations? And if the petitioner has been picked up, what about the suspect? Even though the suspect has been asked to step aside, he still has the law on his side because some of his colleague ministers would do everything within their power to render assistance to him. Even if the petitioner comes out unscathed, there is the possibility of being victimized on account of the fact that he was instrumental in the sack of a fellow minister.

Now if the President is determined to fight corruption, then, he should put in place measures which will make it an offence for somebody to twist facts and figures in order to get an innocent person convicted. And by this, I refer to various sector ministers attempts to demonize the past NPP administration. If you deliberately attempt to destroy somebody, the law should catch up with you. Why should the whistle-blower be put out of circulation? In the same vein, all those who have been making unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations against ex NPP Ministers should be subjected to investigations. Persons culpable in this regards are Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Agyenim Boateng, Nunoo Mensah and Hanna Bissiw. The allegations also involve Mills’ Deputy Chief of Staff, Alex Segbefia. What is the President doing about it? Is he also going to be asked to step aside for proper investigations to be conducted into the matter? The truth of the matter is simple. Government wants to deal with certain officials at the Ministry who are not in its good books. This will pave way for their replacement with cronies and known supporters and sympathizers of the party and what better way to go about this without attracting attention than to spin this story around. I am not, by any way suggesting that Muntaka Mubarak had not dipped his hands into state coffers. No, for he had gone further that that. But there is more than that which meets the eye. I hear that security operatives are hovering all over the place under the guise of carrying out investigations. Now all top officials at the ministry live in palpable fear. I also hear that they have carted away official documents from the Sports Ministry and from the house of the whistle blower himself. In the process of taking away those documents for investigations, there is the possibility of some files getting missing. Some documents might be deliberately destroyed to make it impossible for the petitioner to provide documentary evidence against the embattled minister.

Knowing the NDC’s penchant for media publicity, why can’t the investigation proceedings, including the interrogation of the suspects and the Minister be aired live for all to see and know what happened. After all, a little incident at ex-President Kuffuor’s house attracted the NADMO’s -coordinator to the ex-President’s residence.

If the NDC regime could send as many as forty media men and women including photographers and camera men/women to accompany Kofi Portuphy, NADMO Boss on his unscheduled and unwarranted friendly visit to the residence of the Kufuors just to commiserate with them about their fallen wall, then a high profile case which borders on allegations against a sector ministry deserves to be given wider coverage. After all, were we not given a glimpse of what advantage the NDC could utilize the media for when some selected media houses were asked to provide journalists to accompany the Minister of Works and Housing on his rounds to residence of ex NPP ministers. The aim was to demonize them and label them as thieves and looters of state property.

The National Democratic Congress had a pre-conceived agenda before coming to power. It is to incarcerate as many members of the Great Osono Fraternity who have held public office. The Point here is that if they could ‘investigate ‘ their own minister who is also a big shot in the party, why cant they do the same or worst thing to an outsider or stranger.

I perceive the outcome of the investigations to be one of these two scenarios. One, the Minister would be found guilty, sentenced and then pardoned by the President. Scenario two will see Muntaka Mubarak being acquitted and discharged in which case plan two of their hidden agenda would be put into place. In this wise, an attempt will be made to purge the Sports Ministry of unwanted faces who may thereafter be referred to as the Talibans or the mafia group. This, in a nut shell, is the crux of the matter.

You see, there are certain events which are inevitable in the life span of an individual. These are necessary evils. In the Bible Jesus spoke of his betrayal in these words: The son of Man indeed goes just as it is written, but woe to that Man by whom the son of man betrayeth! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born for the prophecy to come true. The unfortunate lot fell on Judas Iscariot. In this case, the NDC has been looking for a way to send a clear and strong signal to the NPP that it meant what it said it would do to ex-ministers in the Kufuor administration – to expand the Nsawam prison and jail those ministers. It is rather unfortunate that Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak has become the sacrificial lamb and a pawn in the power play between the NDC and the NPP. No matter how one views the unfolding scenario, the political landscape and permutations will no longer be the same.

Incidentally, the utterances of embattled Muntaka Mubarak are rather eroding the little sympathy people have for him. Like a drowning man struggling to keep afloat, his acts smack of attempts to drag as many personalities as possible in his descent from the top of Mount Olympus. His fall, I believe is a lesson to all politicians who find themselves in the positions of Ministers. For he, who thinks he is standing should take care, lest he falls. This advice goes particularly to Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister for Information.

In conclusion, parallels could be drawn between Muntaka Mubarak’s chop-chop and take-take and Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s album titled “Authority Stealing”. The zeal to rape African countries of their resources is what Fela was complaining about. Now nearly forty years after Fela came with his : You be Thief, I no be thief, You be robber, I no be robber, you be armed robber, I no be armed robber, Muntaka Mubarak appears to fit the character that Fela used in his song.

Or does it mean that when Fela Anikulapo Kuti wrote Authority Stealing, he had Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak in mind?

Dear reader, I am confused. I pause for answers.

Daniel Danquah Damptey Danieldanquah_damptey@yahoo.com 0243715297.

Columnist: Damptey, Daniel Danquah