Feature Article of Monday, 28 February 2011
Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
E-mail: email@example.com February 26, 2011
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has raised again the thorny issue of corruption in Ghana politics and felt vindicated that no functionary in his government was guilty of corruption. His argument was that because none of all those making allegations against his appointees could provide evidence for him to act on, there was no basis for initiating action against those whom fingers were being pointed at. Thus, the mere fact that he didn’t punish any of those appointees confirms his stance that his government wasn’t corrupt. Kufuor told the CNN in an interview that he felt justified in his stance by not acting on mere newspaper publications alleging corruption and bribery against his appointees. Hurray, John Agyekum Kufuor!!
The substance of Kufuor’s utterances and his feeling of vindication seem to betray his perception of reality, though. Or, was he just being mischievous? Under him, Ghanaians saw what happened. Unless he has a different definition for “corruption,” let me remind him that he will go down in history as one of Ghana’s Presidents who either did not know how to stamp out corruption in high circles or tacitly collaborated with the perpetrators of corruption for personal gain. In the end, he awarded himself with a medal, which itself was procured under very questionable circumstances!
Let me help Kufuor understand “corruption” from a better and wider angle with evidence of some of the major instances that characterized his administration to suggest to him that “corruption” flourished under his very watch but he pretended not to recognize it:
• Kufuor’s stealing of 41 million Cedis from the national coffers to rehabilitate his private residence and the expenditure of billions of Cedis to renovate the Osu Castle without any tender;
• Nepotism in official appointments—The packing of almost all official public institutions with people from his particular Asante ethnic group, including family members, friends, and cronies;
• Intensification of tribal politics to corrupt our democracy and heighten ethnic tension;
• Immorality at the highest level, either within his own government circles or among the NPP’s top activists (e.g., Thomas Broni’s snatching of Osei Tutu’s wife, Richard Anane’s sexcapades with the African American woman who bore him a son, Gizelle Yajzi’s scurrilous claims against Kufuor himself, and the incarceration of Eric Amoateng in the United States over heroin imports into that country, etc.);
• Connivance between officialdom and narcotic traffickers—Do we not know how the Georgina Wood Commission’s enquiry fizzled out even though indications were clear as to how the narcotic trade was being carried out with official blessing (especially when certain names of the NPP’s bigwigs were being mentioned in connection with the illicit drug business)?
• The inexplicable circumstances in which Kufuor and his son (Chief Kufuor) acquired and disposed of the “Hotel Waa-Waa” are still fresh in our minds. This conflict of interest situation does not become of a Head of State interested in fighting corruption.
• Abuse of officialdom for visa racketeering (e.g., Alhaji Moctar Bamba’s case), manipulation of contract awards, etc.
• Looting of public property (cars, official bungalows, lands, etc.)—How many official cars weren’t retrieved from Kufuor himself, Akufo-Addo, etc.?
• Looting of official property by the former Speaker of Parliament, Begyina Sekyi-Hughes, who is still walking free because of the weaknesses in our justice delivery system;
• Packing of the Judiciary with NPP sympathizers and politicizing other state institutions, thereby weakening them;
• The unconscionable manner in which public funds were dished out to Wereko-Brobbey and Kwadwo Mpiani to waste on the “Ghana @50” celebration is ample evidence of the rot that Kufuor presided over, regardless of what Justice Marful Sau pronounced. Let’s not forget that in that verdict, the substantive case of causing financial loss to the state was not even determined. Justice Marful Sau based his judgement on the constitutionality or otherwise of the charges preferred against Wereko-Brobbey and Mpiani, emanating from the work of a Commission of Enquiry. The basis for the verdict was the legality of a Commission of Enquiry’s findings, not the misappropriation of funds that occurred. Ghanaians know the truth—corruption occurred; and
• The “huhudious” end-of-service package that Kufuor manipulated the Chinery-Hesse Committee into granting him was the height of all corruption; yet, Kufuor is too blind to see things beyond his nose!
If all these instances (and many more that others may know of) were not serious national problems resulting from the corruption that Kufuor presided over, what else could be? Yet, Kufuor feels vindicated that no act of corruption occurred under him just because he did not take action against the culprits. To me, this claim is as unexpected as it is misplaced. Kufuor is praising himself for failing to do the right thing and deserves sympathy. If he had had the slightest glimmer of conscience to guide his conduct in office, he would have acted otherwise. There were ample tons of evidence for him to act on but because he was equally guilty of what his appointees were being accused of, what better option to take than to close his eyes to all that was happening and being reported?
Kufuor may not be willing to admit it, but let me remind him that one of the major factors that turned the Ghanaian electorate against the NPP at the 2008 polls was the unmistakable perception that his government had deepened corruption in the body politic. By the end of his tenure, Kufuor had not only glorified corruption but had given Ghanaians little hope that that canker would ever be fought seriously by officialdom.
Recalling his nauseating claim that “Corruption has been with mankind since the days of Adam” seals it all as a big blot on Kufuor’s conscience and performance. As someone who had the bounden duty to fight corruption and instill confidence in Ghanaians, he failed and shouldn’t begin to make public utterances to draw unnecessary attention to himself. By stoking the fire, he cannot avoid getting burnt. For all he may care to know, wherever he goes, more fingers are pointed at him as a corrupt person than any other Head of State would ever have had done to him.
Kufuor may want to impress himself with such utterances but he must be reminded that Ghanaians saw what happened under him and are better judges of his stewardship. The fight against corruption cannot be won if people who failed to take appropriate action continue to demoralize the people with such perilous claims as Kufuor has made. He must be told that he can’t escape from himself. The weaknesses in our system seem to favour the crooks, and Kufuor should have known better not to annoy anybody with such senseless claims. The prevalence of corruption in post-Kufuor Ghana and the inability of the current government to tackle it decisively is depressing. That’s the more reason why Kufuor should stop rubbing salt into our wounds.