18 July 2012

Ghana: Belling the 'Debt' Cat

opinion

Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi still has a lot to say. He has said a lot in the past, but now seems the time for him to sing his swan song. After Mr. Fergusson Darko made it to the Daily Guide newspaper to reveal how African Automobile Limited (AAL) short-changed the country in the 1980s, for Pajero cars, under an investigation panel chaired by the Professor, you must ask the question, "how did it come about that the same Prof. went ahead decades later and awarded an identical contract to AAL?" I needs to know Prof., which way bloweth the wind in your house?

Our President Mills is hiding behind deaf and mute, but he managed a brief appearance at the Nsawam-Apedwa Junction stretch of the Accra-Kumasi highway to see how our Chinese friends were performing after the floods. But I heard that the Chinese were not happy with payments progress and have moved the completion deadline back six months, subject of course to receiving payments. A now heavily bloated Roads Minister Joe Giddisu was on site to explain things to the President and together with Eastern Region Minister Victor Smith in tow, they convinced the President that it will all "inure to the benefit of Ghanaians" in the end. So the President made it public and is asking the people of Ghana to bear with the Chinese a while longer. I am not sure he understood the issue, because what the Chinese contractor is saying is, he needs to be paid. Mr. President?

With so much going on, we forgot that Betty Mould Iddrisu was still waiting in the wings, while Sammy Ablakwa thinks that because he is announcing the next judgment debt, he has reached transparency utopia. Even after Martin Amidu took him down a major peg. Mr. Ablakwa managed to spin his conversation to try and influence the then AG, that he did call, but he did not try to influence Amidu. I wonder if Martin recorded the conversation somewhere?

But Amidu is on tap. The NDC Government made a big mistake when they dismissed him for dissing the President. Now they have Supreme Court Issues, Minister credibility issues and all sorts of questions, especially with Deputy AG Barton Odro and Legal Counsel Ama Gaisie. The two have been accused by Mr. Amidu, of signing documents without his knowledge and authority, mostly involving judgment debts. Now the National Executive of the NDC has asked him not to speak on radio as a matter of courtesy. Where was that courtesy when he was booted out from the AG's office so unceremoniously?

So pour yourself a tot of PAC. "Let's out Betty Mould" was the lady's story when she arrived before the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) this week. Taking a very determined stance from the get go, PAC Chair Kan Dapaah found himself accosted by members of his own committee, for doing a Chairman's job. Unavoidably, the end result was a soft, soft, cozy, cuddly engagement with the Mould-Iddrisu team, led by Master Puppeteer Nana Ato Dadzie, legal counsel for Betty Mould. What should have been a strong and forceful determination of truth by a Parliamentary body, was turned into a circus of belligerence and arrogance slimed in self-importance by the former AG.

A three-hour session of a tale that could have come from an Ama Atta Aidoo or Ayikwei Armah book, turned Parliament into an Ananse sem fireside gathering and a story teller so full of praise for herself, she felt compelled to joke with hallowed terms in Ghana politics such as "gargantuan" and "unprecedented". When it was all over, the team (Betty, Nana and others) attended a well choreographed press conference to explain to journalists who had not understood what had happened, how she had saved Ghana millions of dollars, which she had done as a personal crusade, despite the major weaknesses in our Constitution, which allowed her as the AG to settle debts on behalf of Government without asking for authorization.

Yet, she said she wrote to the President's office to seek advice, which was "given", and on prompt from Counsel, she was reminded that the letter was only "acknowledged". She also made it very clear that she attended all these negotiations with other members from different sectors of Government. Well, this time it was Kan Dapaah who reminded her several times that others who appeared before her, had testified otherwise, also under oath. Someone is lying.

The inconsistency in her statements might be at the fore when she returns to Parliament on 17th July.

Betty says she is the good guy in all this, coming from the cold to save Ghana from drowning in judgment debts. She was tried in public court, found wanting, but with 32 years of legal experience behind her, how could anyone think she would do anything else but work tirelessly in the name of Ghana? She is a woman, a lawyer and a politician, the first female to be appointed as AG. Her words. My words, she forgot to tell us that she was removed from the AG's office and resigned as Minister of Education without a reason to the Public.

And this has become a challenge for the Parliamentary Accounts Committee. Kan Dapaah and his team have to fight, not Betty Mould, but the wily Nana Ato Dadzie, who has a lot of experience in all aspects of public life. In case our memories are short, he recently stifled the CHRAJ in the Mabey and Johnson case, which is still pending at one of the highest courts in Ghana.

If the PAC should fail, we have a major crisis on our hands and what might become the foundation for a failed state. If our law cannot punish the guilty, we have a huge problem. Who is going to indict all the wrongdoers and appropriately charge them? I trust that if we get to charge anyone in a proper court of law, we will get due process underway.

But, look where we are. The AG's department is clearly not able. Our AG might be compromised, as we saw last week when he appeared at the PAC and since he lied about the €614million judgment re: CP at the Arbitration Tribunal. He also is under fire for a possible lie he told about an attempt on his life, and his predecessor AG has stated publicly that he cannot be trusted. The Deputy AG and the Legal Counsel are both accused of falsely representing the AG without his authority and there are questions about both their professional integrity and partisan judgment. The Deputy AG is an NDC member of parliament.

Since the Serious Fraud Office has no prosecuting mandate, all decisions to charge anyone reside with the AG. That position is a political post. We do not have complete independence of the investigative arms of State to punish corrupt officials.

If opposition people are tried out of government, our politicians yell victimization.

If our President cannot or is not willing to put his foot down and insist that the rule of law must be sacrosanct in Ghana and the term Freedom and JUSTICE must live to what we have emblazoned on the crest, where do we turn? I keep saying, we have freedom, but where is our justice?

The political vampires are sucking the life out of our institutions and when they are out of power, they simply hover until their next turn. This is a paralysis of restitution. Who will bell these cats?

Ah, hah. The Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs says it is still waiting for input from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice before the Right to Information Bill can be laid before parliament. The Bill was proposed 14 years ago in 1998, and the country has changed governments three times since, but we the people are still deprived. I am at a loss.

Ghana, aha a ye de papa! alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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