Feature Article of Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Columnist: Damoa, Adreba Kwaku Abrefa
with Their Ill-gotten Booty kept intact
To serve as a deterrent from corruption and amassing of ill-gotten wealth through abuse of office, public office holders who fall foul to corruption and abuse of office must not only voted out as in the case of politicians and sacked, transferred or demoted as in the case of other public holders but must be made to forfeit every morsel of illegal gains made therefrom. Corrupt and dirty-handed politicians have the penchant of using their influence and political power and organised threats by hollow-minded supporters of no substance to avert interrogation let alone prosecution, forfeiture and possible imprisonment. What corrupt politicians cannot do is controlling the power of the thumb of voters on polling day to decide the fate of such politicians yet being voted out of office alone should not be satisfactory enough because the unscrupulous person would already have got what has been vied for: the ill-gotten wealth and property acquired undeservedly.
Writing in her book, Mill on the Floss, George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) portrays a rather negative public perception of politicians and people who spend their entire time in public affairs in C19th England as people who have no business of their own. How far this ancient perception of political office holders held and continues to hold sway in modern times needs serious consideration. In governance, dedicated politicians become indispensable yet Robert Fullinwider has this to say: ‘we need politicians just as we need garbage collectors as in both cases we should expect them to stink’. I personally disagree with Fullinwider on several scores as will be expressed in the course of this script. My concern is that our politicians of today don’t just stink but have gone fetid beyond any level of acceptable tolerance.
When we look back to the fathers of the world’s democracy which started in England where the Whig Party stood up against the Monarchy, both the Whig and Tory Parties were founded on rich politicians, people of substance with substantial wealth who would not covet and venture into State assets. In US political history, from the days of George Washington when there was no political party to Barack Obama in 2012, holding political office has always been a no-go area for ‘dirty’ nonentities who would covet and ‘rape’ State treasures but a preserve of men and women of integrity. Deducing from the above, George Eliot’s image of public perception of British politicians in the C19th could be said to have been heavily biased, spiteful and made out of paranoia; a perception that would suit only some but not all Ghanaian politicians. In fact, there have been and there are today political practitioners in Ghana who are in politics not for personal gains but to serve with their expertise and foresight to improve the lot of the indigent needy. Politics, like teaching, nursing and medicine is a noble and sacrificial work. Sacrificing to lead people and conduct public affairs has lifelong reward if done diligently and conscientiously. With sense of selfless dedication, the huge licit reward and recognition in politics goes beyond one’s life into future generations but if done recklessly with selfish intent, generations of politicians including their siblings scatter and suffer the obloquy so created everlastingly. There is an endless list of examples over the decades including Hitler, Mussolini, Gadhafi, etc who though may have some crazy admirers, do so in their own heart without public expression.
Politics in developing countries has become a precious minerals mine field for its practitioners. Many a self-styled Ghanaian politician of today have emerged from very poor financial background where they have been possessed with poverty irrespective of intellectual attainment for lack of managing their own affairs, dishonest even to themselves and their family and friends, have become greedy aggressive predating thieves to become multi-Dollar millionaires within a very short spell of time to the jaw-dropping amazement of observers. We do need politicians just as we need garbage collectors but whereas the politician must volunteer to do service to his people, whereas the politician asks for the mandate of his people through promising to lead and serve diligently, whereas the politician is lavished with generous rosy subventions both whiles in office and after with fat salary and various allowances, a politician is expected to wash clean and not be expected to stink let alone smell fetid.
The white colour crime of corruption has set Ghana and most developing countries aback. Many northern Ghanaian communities fetch water from worm-infested ponds and pools shared with cattle and pigs whiles our cities and towns remain bereft of potable water to the amazement that the Ministries in Accra where national administrative decisions are taken and controlled from do not have water running through their pipe lines. Quality and level of education, especially girl-child education has dropped to its lowest level though they claim to have completed a cycle of formal educational training and over 50% of Ghanaians cannot read and write. Our cities are malaria hotspots due to poor sanitation whiles Ghanaian hospitals are poorly equipped with doctor/patient ratio at 1:10,380. Our future generations are withering away as a result of unstoppable alarming rate of child and maternal mortality. Youth unemployment has been on the increase with acute loss of national ethos and social ethics, importing a high personal and property insecurity alert with rising armed robbery in a country where police/civilian ratio is 1:1,040. Roads and streets in our cities and urban towns have remained dark, dusty and unsafe for decades culminating in all sorts of pollution and dust related maladies. State-owned road public transport system has collapsed whiles rail tracks have disappeared, virtually buried under road works. The welfare of Ghanaians is never the priority of our political leaders, most especially under the current NDC administration in which corruption, to the knowledge of all genuine Ghanaians has graduated into unprecedented high-powered robbery of State assets by a sworn-in caretaker President who has pledged to protect Ghanaians and all State assets under his care. A ‘spare tyre President’ who has not only wilfully caused a series of financial loss to Ghana but amassed so much wealth for himself through negotiating dubious deals so does not worth endorsement; an endorsement that will surely secure and empower him not only to rob but mercilessly plunder and pillage Ghana into irreversible indigence and immiseration. He knows he has soiled both his position as former vice President and presently ‘spare tyre’ President. As vice President, his boss, the late president Mills came to realise and uncover his dubious and mischievous conduct as a crook who should be investigated by setting-up a commission to investigate him, a commission whose duty never saw the light of day by reason of the machinations of the accused vicious vice President.
John Dramani Mahama’s scandalous deals he has perpetrated motivated a clandestine plan to get rid of the late President Mills; deals and a sacrilegious murder/killing which he was privy to are the haunting reasons for his fears and desperation to remain in power. To this end, desperate ‘spare tyre’ President Mahama is disingenuously telling Ghanaians his Party is mandated to govern for eight years from January 2009 to January 2017 which is false but he says so because he reckons most Ghanaians are ignorant; appealing to ethnic and tribal sentiments for votes; distributing lap-tops to ‘thousands of students’ including students of the famous ‘Sunyani College of Education’, a ‘college of education which has produced more teachers than even Akropong since it was established and unveiled a week ago’ and similar such colleges of education and institutions across Ghana; distributing cars to Paramount chiefs and traditional leaders, some of whom cannot even afford the fuel to travel on them. This lecherous ‘spare tyre’ President has a penchant of identifying female and only female university students to be given cars free of charge for his campaign. All these economic crimes can be committed because there is a magic image to look up to which provides for some impunity, a protective ‘waterproof’ constitutional indemnity clause, so John Jinapor would ‘Squealer’ the President’s way through. Naked lies about Ghana Ivorian relations have been told by this President yet when taken to task provokes the anger of his mischief-inclined aides and followers. Kudos to Okatakyie Nana Addo, the fearless and prudent patriot from a patriotic party, the man who judiciously and perspicaciously calls a spade a spade who challenged John Mahama to come out clean on matters of our international relations not only with the Ivory Coast but the world at large. This and many more adequately suggests how desperate John Dramani Mahama is for endorsement as President which if he gets would conceal heinous crimes he has committed against ‘mother Ghana’ and Ghanaians.
John Dramani Mahama and his NDC will surely be booted out on 7th December. Should he and his mischief-centred Party go with their booty kept intact by reason of a so-called indemnity clause? Ghanaians must wake up to the harm this clause in Ghana’s constitution causes and can cause in future. Unbridled thievery, ‘rape’ of State assets and dirty-handed dealings are major ‘attractive’ features in our constitution that need to be expunged immediately from this very important national document of ours; an attraction that invariably attracts mischief-inclined contestants porrecting themselves to be political leaders and public officials. Our officials must have enough self-conscious drive to resign when they go wrong inappropriately and it should be done without tarrying. That evokes conscientious selflessness; that is nationalism; that is patriotism; that is moral and ethical and that should be the way forward.
Our Ghana constitution takes after the American document yet American political leaders are open to fraud and corruption investigations when such are committed or suspected to have been committed with such follow-up punishment as may be appropriate. No one should under any circumstance be above the law in Ghana yet we appear to be over-obsequious to our corrupt and heartless political leaders even when we know them to be corrupt and insincere as it is happening with worse case scenarios in the current ‘spare tyre’ administration. Enough is enough so every conscientious genuine patriotic Ghanaian should sit-up and see thievery of State assets and corruption in Ghana as a serious canker that should be visited with very severe forms of deterring punishment including such measures as total confiscation and stripping of honours, titles and entitlements. Our constitution should reflect our needs and circumstances by not doggishly following and copying styles and provisions from elsewhere that can be inimical to our progress and development. Politics and public office holding should no longer be made into a mine field for crooks and disingenuous personae for now and the future. Will John Dramani Mahama’s political office holding credentials rank him among the noble ever-rewarding trusted numbers? Will his generations and his siblings inherit his trust or mistrust created in the eyes of Ghanaians after he has been booted out on 7th December 2012 in view of his misdeeds? Only time will tell.
Adreba Kwaku Abrefa Damoa; London, UK