Feature Article of Monday, 30 January 2017

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Is Ayariga getting mad with nonsense?

By Kofi Ata

The leadership of the entire NDC, including parliamentarians never expected to lose the December presidential election and therefore did not have a plan B in place. The effect, is a party that its leadership, parliamentarians and members look not only dejected but also stung, dazed and confused in thought and in deeds.

It began even before the official result was declared when the NDC campaign team issued a statement claiming Mahama was “cruising to victory” (see, “Our collated results show Mahama is cruising to victory-Asiedu Nketia”, Myjoyonline, December 8, 2016), later changed to “Mahama in a comfortable lead” (see, Mahama Campaign urges NDC supporters to remain calm”, Graphic, December 8, 2016) and finally a confession by Nii Lantey Vanderpuye, NDC MP on Newsfile (December 10, 2016) that it was a deception to calm down their dejected supporters.

Since the declaration and inauguration of Nana Akufo-Addo as president of Ghana, the defeated NDC has mounted an irrational and ineffective campaign to discredit a government that is still in its formative stages.

This article is analysis of the general confusion within the NDC with reference to Mahama Ayariga’s bribery allegation against the Energy Minister, Mr Boakye Agyarko.

Mahama Ayariga an NDC MP on the Appointments Committee was a deputy minister and substantive minister under the Mills and Mahama governments respectively. In other words, he is not an ordinary MP but an experienced politician.

This is not the first time that Ayariga is mischievously accusing the Akufo-Addo presidency of illegality. He claimed the appointment of Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo as senior minister by president Akufo-Addo is unconstitutional and sent a long letter or legal opinion to the president (see, “Akufo-Addo clandestinely making Osafo-Marfo Prime Minister – Ayariga fires”, Ghanaweb, January 18, 2017).

There is nothing under the 1992 Constitution that prohibits the president from appointing anyone into a designated ministerial position, be it defined or undefined by the constitution, provided the position is not designated as president, vice-president or prime minister.

The latest allegation against Mr Boakye Agyarko, the Chairman of the Appointment Committee and first Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei-Owusu and the Minority Chief Whip, Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka is mind-boggling. I heard all the three interviewed on Saturday’s Newsfile over the scandal and Ayariga is the one whose version of events appeared unconvincing.

According to him, the minority on the committee were promised money for sitting on the committee by their leader (Minority Chief Whip) so when they were called and given Ghc 3,000 by the Minority Chief Whip, they assumed it was their sitting allowance but returned the money when they were later told that the money was from Boakye Agyarko.

When asked if that was the norm, he responded that, sometimes the leader signed for and collected the money on behalf of members and paid the allowance to them for which they signed for. Asked further whether he signed for the money given to him by the Minority Chief Whip, he said no.

Asked if as a lawyer that was what is expected, he responded that he could defend himself at any place. The Committee Chairman denied giving any money to Muntaka and he also denied receiving money from Committee Chair and ever giving money to anyone.

So far, I have not heard or read that any member of minority on the committee has come out publicly to confirm or deny receiving Ghc 3,000.00 so Ayariga stands alone on a desert island with this very damaging allegation. Why many, including me do not believe him, is that his story does not add up because there is no motivation for Mr Boakye Agyarko to bribe his way through the committee for two reasons.

In Ayariga’s own words, the information demanded from Agyarko subject to his approval had been provided to the committee in a closed session, Mr Agyarko had withdrawn some of the allegations he made against the ex-president Mahama and apologised.

As a result, the committee was satisfied to recommend his approval by consensus to the house. Second, even if he is not recommended by consensus, with NPP’s huge majority in parliament, Agyarko would have been approved by a majority decision.

The above reasons suggest that the only person who has a motivation for making the allegation is Ayariga himself. That also ties in with NDC’s behaviour since their defeat on December 7, 2016. The magnitude of their defeat, especially in the house is such that they are still suffering from the effect of heavy dose of lethal political venom in their system. The venom has disabled their political nervous system, incapacitated their reasoning and causing irreparable damage to their judgement, actions and omissions, whether in parliament or outside.

The main reason for this dazed and incoherent behaviour by NDC is the eagerness to pay NPP back in their own coin. That is, to accuse president Akufo-Addo’s ministers and appointees of being corrupt and inefficient, when the government has not even been completed.

It is also to show to Ghanaians that NPP deceived the electorate to vote Mahama and NDC out as Kofi Adams has been claiming. In their haste to destabilise president Akufo-Addo’s government before it even got off the ground in the usual NPP/NDC politics of equalisation, they have forgotten that president Akufo-Addo has been elected for a four-year mandate and that his success or failure could only be judged come 2020.

Moreover, it is only the Ghanaian electorate who will determine whether president Akufo-Addo had delivered or not and not NDC. Of course, I accept that NDC has a role to play as the main opposition to inform and educate Ghanaians about the shortfalls, if any, of the Akufo-Addo government. However, this approach is wrong and should not be entertained.

The allegation is not only dangerous to body politic but also scandalous to parliament, libellous and defamatory to Messrs Boakye Agyarko, Joe Osei-Owusu and Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka.

Again, it damages Ghana’s image in the international community and can scare away foreign investors because some foreign governments including UK and the US have enacted laws to prosecute businesses and their nationals who commit acts of bribery in other foreign countries, whether such acts are legal or not in those other foreign countries.

NDC’s behaviour is also unacceptable because it is the pull him down mentality, which is not in the interest of Ghana. The role of a responsible opposition is to hold the government accountable and ensure that the government acts in the best interest of Ghana.

This is critical for national building because when president Akufo-Addo succeeds, Ghana succeeds and the quality of life for all Ghanaians will improve. The pull him down mentality of plotting and conspiring to make president Akufo-Addo fail at any cost is dangerous and unpatriotic. Ghanaians will not reward NDC for destructive or obstructive and irresponsible opposition.

Instead of NDC seeking every opportunity to find fault with and blame the Akufo-Addo government, they should take time, find out why they lost, reorganise themselves with a coherent, responsible opposition strategy and be constructive opposition by supporting the government when it’s in the interest of the nation and at the same time, point out dangers when necessary. After all, with the huge majority in the legislature, the minority can have their say but the majority will always have their way and president Akufo will get his ministers and programmes approved.

It is too early to even oppose, let alone destroy a government that is in its formative stages. Though NPP in opposition had the objective of making it difficult for Mahama to govern because they felt he did not win the 2012 presidential election, on the contrary, president Akufo-Addo won with clean hands and a clear mandate from the people.

Obstructing his government and programme just for the sake of paying his party back would be disrespect and a disservice to the voters and NDC could be punished severely at the next elections if they continue this path of blanket opposition. It is defeatist, will not inure to the benefit of NDC or Ghana in general and should be abandoned. The tit for tat politics in Ghana is damaging to democracy, and dishonourable to the politicians, particularly the so-called Honourables. Again, an eye for an eye will leave us all blind with no one to lead us.

In conclusion, the August House must act swiftly to repair the damage to its reputation through a speedy investigation and if Ayariga is found to have cooked up this scandal, then he should be punished severely, including expulsion from the house. On the other hand, if his claims are true, then those involved should suffer the same fate plus prosecution.

So far, I feel like telling Ayariga what our English Language Tutor at Augusco, Mr Hooper (nicknamed “Oflowoo” for his easy control of the Queen’s language), used to tell us if you gave a wrong answer to a question in his class. “My friend, you are getting made with nonsense”.

Whose head will go for the chop first, (Ayariga, Boakye Agyarko, Joe Osie-Owusu or Mubarak Mohammed Mutanka?). Sadly, in Ghana, we may never know the truth.