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Feature Article of Saturday, 26 January 2013

Columnist: Damptey, Daniel Danquah

Mr. President, I Beg To Differ

Where do we go from here? I ask this question because we don’t know whether we are in crisis or not. We don’t know whether the country is broke or not. But one thing we all are in agreement is that the economy is challenged. Why is the economy challenged? Is it as a result of bad economic policies by the Kufuor-led NPP administration? I say a big no to those who say so. And like what happens in our court when after a court has given its verdict, it postpones to another time the reasons behind its verdict. And so, dear reader, permit me to defer to another time, the reasons why I do not hold the NPP Administration culpable for our economy

But, did you go through the numerous comments in reaction to my piece, “who is in charge, Mr. President?” Well, if you did not, then you missed a lot of goodies. While some contributors appeared “UnGhanaian” by calling me nasty names(Ghanaians are very decent, disciplined and civilized and do not abuse or insult others just because they hold a contrary opinion to their own), I realized that such people have fallen in love with my write-ups and always wait for my writings to enable them do what they know best-insult.

There is one particular contributor who always sends the message. “Go to Hell” to me on my phone. This brings to mind what one teacher of mine during our school days always did. Anytime he came to class, he would switch on the light, wait for the light to come on and ask “who did that?’ the entire class would chorus “Nkrumah”. One day, he went through the usual routine, switched on the light and asked the question. But on this particular occasion, for some inexplicable reason, the lights in the classroom were refused to come on. The class chorused “Nkrumah”.

And so it is with some people. Whenever they see my name at the end of any write-up they would not bother to read but conclude that because I have been very vocal in my support for the New Patriotic Party, my piece is very critical of the NDC. On this, I reject it in its entirety. I am one of the NPP die hard activists who look at issues as they are and make objective comments on them. I have written articles critical of the Kufuor led NPP Administration which were published by some Media Houses. Examples,

I criticized the President for not disciplining the DCE who was alleged alleged to have slapped an NDC MP (a woman) who was old enough to be his mother. I recommended that the DCE be relieved of his appointment, pending the outcome of Mr President’s investigation into the matter. I also criticized the Presidency for turning a blind eye to the act of the DCE for Akwatia for moving the diamonds from the vaults at GCD to another place.

These incidents were captured in my piece, titled “A School to Re-orientate Government Appointees a must” which was published in the New Punch” the Daily searchlight” the Chronicle” “The Statesman”, “The Free Press” and some websites between Tuesday 30th November, 2007 and Friday 3rd November, 2007. I also did a story titled, “Mr. President, I Beg to Differ” in which I criticize the government for paying lip service to its Anti-corruption Crusade. The piece was published in The Free Press, The Daily Searchlight, The Crusading Guide, The New Punch, the Statesman between Monday, March 12, 2007 and Friday, March 16, 2007. There are many others I did including one in which I called on Manhyia to come out and clarify issues relating to the use of Otumfuo’s name by some fraudsters to link his name to a so-called Educational Foundation. I have also done a similar on by criticizing the Okyeman Traditional Council for passing a law which I found obnoxious. So, it is not time that I have looked the other way whilst some negative acts were being perpetrated by the NPP (Admin). But I have a bone to pick with or an axe to grind with the NDC when it comes to criticizing any negative act by its government. Can anyone point out one instance when a top member of the NDC had condemned an act of illegality by the Mills-led Administration? The issue of car seizure has long been over flogged. The party and the government claim they have not asked any individual or group of people to do such people have been doing. Okay, if they don’t have a hand in their activities, why should Government come out to apologize to the victims? And if such people were not acting on orders from above, why have they not been arrested and prosecuted for bringing the name of Mills’ Government into disrepute? All that we are asking for is that we should do things with decorum and that we should not degenerate into the level of beasts when brute force reigns supreme

I wish to read constructive criticisms from the NDC side so that together we can compare notes and arrive at the best way to move the country forward. I wish we will come to a situation when people will not attempt to defend the indefensible, but state the facts they way they see them. I reproduce today for the consumption of the reading public; one piece which was critical of Kufuor’s led government. The piece is titled “Mr. President, I beg to Differ”

MR. PRESIDENT, I BEG TO DIFFER[Reprint]. The people of Keta are angry. And truly, they have every right to be so. Many towns and villages have some ripped palm nuts, which are eaten with relish. But when it came to their turn, the palm nuts were spewed out of their mouths in disgust. This scenario is comparable to Obi Okonkwo, the only palm nut in “No Longer at Ease”. Obi Okonkwo, a young lad; full of prospects was no his way to prison for accepting bribe. In the case of Keta, their two prominent sons of the soil "had dipped their hands into the national coffers and could not extricate their fingers from the deep well". They, thus, become victims of their own "acts". They played a dangerous game and lost out. These two citizens I am speaking about are the late Victor Solormey and the mp of Keta, Honourable Dan Abodokpi.

These two gentlemen were dear to Keta people. A sneeze from either of them was a signal for silence. They were men of timber and caliber in the NDC. However, by appointing these two men from the same village, the appointing authority wanted us to believe that, without these two gentlemen, the country could not move forward.

The NDC is crying foul. Why is it that they are the only ones bearing the brunt of the crusade against corruption? Yes, two down, more to go! The party has expressed grave concern on what it terms the selective justice system” But is it really true? How many big fishes have been caught in the crusade against corruption? Looking back at the last five or six years of the NPP administration, I am tempted to say that there are some elements of truth in what the NDC is saying. It is no secret that the Kufuor’s Government has chalked many successes while at the same time; it is confronted with many negative legacies. This is what one calls apathy to allegations of impropriety and corruption against members of ruling party. It appears there is unwillingness on the part of the President to deal with the above issues in a straightforward manner.

There is no doubt that the party is sitting on a time bomb, which might detonate at anytime. What the President refers to, as “perception” can become the catalyst to annihilate our dear party from power. I am a hardcore party man, but I cannot close my eyes to clear cases of wanton dissipation of public funds and corrupt practices. For what will it profit the citizens if the party were to turn a blind eye to various acts of impropriety committed by party men? We, as members of the New Patriotic Party highlight the sins of members of the opposition, but when it involves one of our own, we treat it with kid gloves. Since the NPP is a party that believes in equal treatment before the law, the President should initiate steps to ensure that all those in high positions against whom allegations of corruption and impropriety have been leveled against are not left off the hook. They must be dealt with according to the laws of this country to serve as a deterrent to any other who person might be tempted to engage in any such act in future

There should be no sacred cows in the country. As I write this article, my heart bleeds for our party. Why? Apart from Mallam Issah who was jailed in connection with the missing $60,000, no other top member of the present regime has been sanctioned. Even here, one might say, Mallam Issah was jailed because he was not of the ‘Osono’ stock [but got the appointment on the basis of understanding between the NPP and the minority parties minus the NDC] there has not been any case whereby a member of the present Government has been caught and made to face the full rigorous of the laws.

When a serving Deputy Minister used the Official Letterhead of the Seat of Government at the Castle to further his private business which ultimately resulted in financial benefit to the said Minister, all that the man got was the acceptance of his letter of resignation with regret. The man deserves more than a reprimand. He should have been handed over to the police for further action this would have proved to all and sundry that the party meant business and is not paying lip service to the enshrined principle of the rule of law.

Truth is biter, but we as a party must make concrete efforts to ensure that the Ghana we all fought for – against known causes of fraudulent practices, denial of basic human rights as well as injustice becomes the cynosure of all countries.

On this note, I appeal to President Kufuor as the father of the nation to give equal attention to any act of impropriety brought to his notice. At least, there is documentary evidence that the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah disciplined some of his ministers, which included Krobo Edusei when he bought a golden bed. What about the late D.C Kwakye of Oda? These were test cases involving diehard and committed CPP activists. In the case of the late D.C Kwakye, not only was he relieved of his position; he went jail as well.

Now, this brings me the focus of this write up. Wherein lies the justification of appointing Dr. Charles Wireko Brobbey (otherwise know as Tarzan) Chief Executive Officer of Ghana @ 50 Secretariat? For somebody who couldn’t take effective control of the Volta River Authority and had to be chased out of the place, I strongly feel the appointment was not a true reflection of the reality on the ground. Even though, the Independent anniversary has come and gone, we need to sit down and soberly reflect on the way the Ghana@ 50 Secretariat was handled. To all intent and purposes, I strongly feel that Dr. Wireko Brobbey was a flop. Giving a whopping sum of money to some selected musicians who started fighting among themselves when it came to the sharing of the bumper harvest was an act of indiscretion on his part. I recommend "our man” be charged with causing financial loss to the country. Did Dr. Wireko Brobbey do any consultation before he selected those musicians to produce a song reflecting the role our heroes played in our attainment of independence? Who recommended the amount and couldn’t it have been done with less the amount that was paid out? If he did it with the best of intentions, he could be pardoned, but the onus lies on him to prove that he had no ulterior motive in approving the money for payment to the musicians.

I remember what a Nigeria friend of mine by name Olabode Danjuma from Kwara State said with regard to one appointment the Nigeria President Made. “When Obasanjo appointed Dr. Amos Adamu as head of COJA, I told my friends that Obasanjo has sent a dog to guide a butcher’s table.” How true is the above utterance when we relate it to Dr. Wireko Brobbey’s appointment as CEO of Ghana @ 50 Secretariats? I think Dr. Wireko Brobbey was relying on one definition of a Manager, which is that he/she is a person paid to get things done through others. Form impeccable sources, the President himself had to personally intervene in the activities of the Secretariat otherwise a great deal of embarrassment would have been caused his government. What about what “What Lens” said about the personal intervention by Mr. Kwamena Bartels to ensure that some seats were reserved for the NDC? From what the paper said, our Honourable Minister had to keep watch over the thirsty or so seats he "commandeered" for the NDC delegation. What were Dr. Brobbey and his outfit doing at the time? Have they thought of the great embarrassment that NPP administration would have faced if the NDC delegation had come to the venue and found out that they were not welcome? This is what it would have meant. Yet, we had somebody paid with the taxpayer’s money whose duty it was to ensure that the government did not face any such embarrassment situation.

The man is said to be intransigent and he lived up to the name and act at the Parliamentary Sub-Committee when subpoenaed to render account of his stewardship. If he had nothing to hide, why should he take refuge in the argument that the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat falls under the Ministry of Presidential Affairs? The Holy Books make us understand that we shall all appear before the judgment seat of our Creator and Maker to answer questions relating to how we have spent our lives on earth. When this will happen, we don’t know and are not told. We should always be ready for it can come at any time. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah also said that we should be ever ready to further the interest of the African Continent. Therefore, when Dr. Wireko Brobbey was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Secretariat it should have dawned on him that, Parliament, which approved the funds for the use of his Secretariat, would one day call for an account of his stewardship. But when it happened, our Tarzan of a man was nowhere prepared for the tsunami that was to trail his refusal to appear before the committee. I am not suggesting that Dr. Wireko Brobbey is incompetent. No, far from it. He might be competent in other areas, but obviously, I beg to differ from Mr. President’s choice of CEO of the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat.

A lot of people might say that the event was a success. Yes, I agree with them, but I make bold to say that, the nearly 100% success achieved was as a result of a combination of many factors – notably among which was patriotism exhibited by a large section of the populace.

The antics of people like Dr. Charles Wireko Brobbey and many top NPP gurus is not doing the party any good. They should endeavor to be transparent in all their transactions. But why did our President, the pride of the continent, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor appoint this man who is dogged by controversies wherever he goes to head such a highly sensitive organ as Ghana @ 50 Secretariat? Was it to reward him for being a good party man? The answer is definitely not in the affirmative. His antecedents are there for all to see. I need not delve into that. However there are many good men dedicated to the cause of the NPP and our dear nation, Ghana who are out there waiting to be rewarded. Yes, they are there in their numbers.

Dr. Charles Wireko Brobbey, it would be recalled, stayed in the official accommodation of the CEO long after he had been forced to abandon his position, contrary to regulations guiding the use of such facilities. His action resulted in financial loss to the country for the next CEO of VRA had to be given alternate accommodation at extra cost to the tax payer.

All that I am saying here is that our respected and world acclaimed democratic President should not parry such allegations against members of his government with a wave of his hand because to him they are perceptions. He should do a little bit of investigations into allegation with the help of state institutions like the Special Fraud Office and Bureau of National Investigations. They should be empowered and adequately funded to enable them cope with the challenges that confront them.

There is a saying that “Se Wonnim Owuo a Hwe nna” (if you don’t know how death seems like, you need not to look far, liken it to sleep) if we have forgotten, I would like to refresh your memory with what happened in the year 1970 or thereabout. The Progress Party Government had dismissed some 568 civil servants soon after assuming the reigns of power. The dismissed civil servants, led by one Mr. Sallah took the case to court. The Supreme Court ruled that the workers be re-instated. The then Prime Minister, the late Dr. K.A Busia went on air to state that no one, not even the Courts could compel him to re-instate the sacked workers. This became the famous Sallah case and also an albatross hanging on the neck of our great party for quite a long time.

I know that a lot of party men will call me names for taking this stand. Some will say I am not a team player whiles others will accuse me of rocking the boat. You may call me a blind nationalist of the Idi Amin type but let me say that my action is buoyed by love for the New Patriotic Party. I share similar sentiments expressed by other concerned members of our Great Party. If our Great Party, The New Patriotic Party which is the Party of Hope, the Party of both the Present and the Future is bent on fighting the menace of corruption and not to be seen as paying lip service to it, then Mr. Charles Wireko Brobbey qualifies to be on the list of those to be charged with causing financial loss to the state.

Daniel Danquah Damptey danieldanquah_damptey@yahoo.com 0243715297

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