Feature Article of Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Columnist: Abdulai, Yakubu
As the race for this year’s general election is drawing nearer and getting tougher, some political parties have decided to play with the sentiments of Ghanaians to steal their mandate. There most notable one is the New Patriotic Party (NPP). In recent times, they have decided not to be responsible, factual and civil; but choose to propagate lies, deceit, and showing of arrogance everywhere.
As part of their dirty politics, the NPP has decided to use corruption to dent the image of the seating president and indeed, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in general with baseless and irresponsible allegations. Unfortunately they have miscalculated; because they and their predecessors themselves are neck deep into corruption. If any political party in Ghana should use corruption to cast malignity on the NDC, it should not be the NPP. It should be a party that has not come to power under this fourth republican constitution. Since the return to multi-party democracy in 1992, it is only the NDC and the NPP that has ruled Ghana, and Ghanaians have seen what both the NDC and NPP did with their 8 years each in power; corruption has never been rife as it was during the NPP regime. Ghanaweb.com carried an article entitled “Does Akufo-Addo Understand What Corruption Is?” by Margaret Jackson on Thursday, 4th October which has already dealt with the character in the centre of this brouhaha – Nana Addo. She reminded Ghanaians about the free flow of hard drugs into Ghana under the watch of Nana Addo (as an Attorney General and a Foreign Minister) and his master, President Kufour. Bravo, Margaret Jackson for this piece.
Nana Addo and his party claimed that, because President Mahama’s brother took a loan from Merchant Bank in 2007 for a legitimate business and has not yet fully settle the debt, the president is corrupt. This is the most “irresponsible” and desperate allegation that has ever hit Ghanaian politics. There is no logic in that allegation. If a mere serial caller or a nonentity had made those allegations, such a person would have been dismissed without attaching any importance to the allegation. Unfortunately, it is coming from the biggest opposition party and its leadership. The allegation has no substance and as a lawyer, Nana Addo should have known better that, it will not earned him anything. It is clear from the allegations that, desperation for power is what is driving Nana Addo now. Ghanaians can still remember “Hotel Kufour’s” issue when NPP argued that, President Kufour’s son was a full adult and a Ghanaian for that matter, and could source for loans to do any business. Under this argument, if a son and a father are not the same, how could brothers be the same? In any case, we are told, Planners and Engineers took the loan for 5 years, only for the bank to take a unilateral decision to reduce the loan period to 3 years without recourse to the debtors (Planners and Engineers). So if the company (which is a limited liability company) has not yet met its obligation, where does the President stand in this matter? We were all in Ghana, under the “zero tolerance” for corruption in rhetoric with Nana Addo as Attorney General, a CNTC loan from the UK was contracted in a “Hairdressing Salon”. What is more corrupt than this?
What Ghanaians seems not to know about NPP and their Danquah/Busia tradition is that, they preach virtues and practice vices. They have a pattern of strongly lying to win the mandate of Ghanaians. This is not the first time they have used corruption to come to power but turn round to do worst things. During the 1969 election, even though President Nkrumah was no more in power, he was called all sorts of names by Dr. Busia and his cohorts to justify why Nkrumah was overthrown; labelling him as a corrupt leader, a dictator and many other invectives. When the Progress Party (PP) eventually took over the country, what happened? They flagrantly flouted the constitution and were grapping properties from left-right and center. A typical example was Mr. J.H. Mensah’s case. As a Finance Minister under Dr. Busia, J.H. Mensah formed a company name Odumasi Farms Limited and was the Chairman of the company. This was in contravention with the 1969 constitution which states in Article 61(4) that, “A minister of state or a ministerial secretary shall not, while he continues in office, hold any other office of profit or emolument whether public or private and either directly or indirectly”. When this came to public attention, the government jumped to his defence and J.H. Mensah never resigned. Commenting of the issue, Professor Mike Oquaye (one of the gurus in NPP) in his book, “Politics in Ghana 1972 – 1979” said “If (Dr.) Busia had been asked in 1966 what he expected a minister to do in such circumstances, he would have answered in one word – “resign”. The government surely lost credibility for the way it handled this issue in flagrant disregard not only for propriety but the Constitution itself,…” (Oquaye, 1980: p. 187). These are the words of the good professor.
History does repeat itself. When President John A. Kuffour took over the management of the country, he pledged “zero tolerance” to corruption. To show how serious he was, he used Mallam Yussif Issah, (a member of PNC who accepted a post under president Kufour as Sports Minister) to site example. Subsequently, when several red flags were raised about corruption deals in the country, the president said people should “provide the evidence” for the case to be investigated. This new posture taken by the president quenched the “zero tolerance” to corruption mantra. It was widely believed that, if Mallam Issah was a true “elephant”, he would never have been incarcerated because he would have been defended by the party.
Under the watch of President Kuffour and his party, district chief executives were plundering the resources of the country; channelling contracts to their companies. The Auditor General report for 2009 revealed that, the District Chief Executive of Yendi, Mr. Habib Tijani presided over a tender committee and channelled contracts to his own company. His excuse was that, he was raising funds for the party (NPP) (Global Corruption Report, 2009). What will Nana Addo do to Habib Tijani in this circumstance? Besides, why did he not prosecute all the corruption allegations found in the AG Report when he was the Attorney General? Or better still, why did he suddenly become a corruption crusader when President Kuffour said corruption started during the days of Adam?
There are a series of corruption allegations hanging on the neck of the NPP and their gurus. Ghanaians have not forgotten about the “kick backs” that were going on at the Castle under the watch of President Kufour, and the $5,000 bribes to certain NPP members of parliament (including Nana Akufo Addo) to facilitate the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone are all still fresh in the minds of Ghanaians. The bloating of the budget during the construction of the Jubilee House (Now Flagstaff House), the rot at Ghana@50 celebrations, the grabbing of government bungalows are some of corruption allegations that cannot also be forgotten. There were several rots going on under the NPP government with Nana Addo as a member of the party, but yet he did nothing to stop it; but had the audacity to make irresponsible lies against a clean president.
The NPP is also noted for its arrogance and looking down upon some ethnic groups in the country; tagging other tribes as inferior to others. A typical example was the case of the NPP MP for Fanteakwa, Hon. Kwabena Amankwa Asiamah when he touted that, “[Northerners] lack a culture of property owning which makes them very lazy; they always have to be spoon fed… All they do is to cut down trees and burn them into charcoal. Whenever you see a vehicle carrying charcoal, it is from the north. Why? They are always involved in tribal and community wars so the place is not stable; they are always on the move. Vandalism has also become a culture there” (Peacefmonline.com, June 1, 2011). This comment was made on Peace FM’s flagship programme “Kokrokoo” while speaking to the issue of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA). Even though the party apologised on his behalf later, they never condemned his statement but rather said he was taken out of context. Their predecessors have made similar statement in the past and it is costing the party to date. In 1971, Mr. Victor Owusu (the leader of Popular Front Party in 1979) described Ewes as “inward-looking people” (Oquaye, 1980: p. 175). He never apologised for that statement till his death. Since then, Voltarians are never happy with the Danquah/Busia tradition. The Kennedy Agypong’s statement is still fresh in the minds of Ghanaians; when he called for the people in Ashanti to start killing Ewes and Gas with pestles. Statements of this nature confirms that, the NPP is an Akan-base party and not a National Party. Akufo Addo himself said “We Akans are not cowards as some Ghanaians used to say – We are very brave so “All die be die”. These are the kind of people looking for the votes of Ghanaians; to die for them to come to power.
Political power is not gained by way of lies, irresponsible statements, baseless allegations, and desperation. No wonder for a sixth consecutive week, the NPP has topped the chart of irresponsible and indecent remarks on the airwaves. Ghanaians are wise and discerning; they know what is good for them. They want a government that will better their livelihood and not only the cronies of a party. The Danquah/Busia tradition is used to playing with the sentiments of Ghanaians; preaching virtues and practicing vices. Ghanaians should therefore be very much aware of them and should never make any mistake to give them their mandate to come back to power.
By Yakubu Abdulai