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Opinions of Monday, 23 December 2013

Columnist: Asare, Kwaku S.

ANN Year in review

ANN (Somanya) December 20, 2013

YEAR in REVIEW

A review of the events of any period can take various perspectives. For 2013, ANN has chosen to focus on the critical challenges that confronted the nation: (i) counting; (ii) corruption; (iii) conflict of interests; (iv) cronyism; and (iv) chicanery.

We learnt in 2013 that we are a counting challenged country. A quick glance at the general election results reveals glaring absurdities that should have alerted the Electoral Commissioner (EC) that the numbers did not add up. The so called ballot accounting forms (pink sheet) showed multiple instances where ballot counts exceeded ballots issued and/or ballots issued exceeded registered voters. Any EC, who has minimum competence in counting, would have refused to declare such absurdities. But the EC declared the results, unwittingly putting the Supreme Court on a counting mission. Like the EC, the Court too failed. On the question of whether material outcome-altering irregularities had occurred, the voting was as follows:
Yes Anin Yeboah, Rose Owusu, Baffoe Bonnie, Mawuli Dotse, Julius Ansah
No William Atuguba, Vida Akoto-Bamfo, Sophia Adinyira, Sule Gbadegbe

With only 9 ballots to count, the counting-challenged Court, nevertheless, got the count wrong. On reflection, the Court returned in 48 hours to correct a mistake in the count and still got it wrong. I leave it as an exercise to you to count the ballots above and decide how the Supreme Court answered the question before them. Do not mess it up!
Political corruption has reached a crisis point. To be sure, allegations of political corruption have always been deployed as a propaganda tool against an incumbent government. However, political alternation has allowed us to pierce the veil of the propaganda, exposing most of the allegations as hubris. For instance, the catalogue of corruption charges leveled against NPP officials in the 2008 elections have come to naught! What has been different in 2013 is that the allegations have been made and carefully documented by members of the government. The exemplar case is the GYEEDA report prepared by a committee set up by the President. We learn from this report that over billion cedis were expended on questionable projects without any accounting or auditing. Although the report shows that crimes have been committed by various officials, it has been whitewashed (see http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=281405). The spate of corruption has reached such dizzying heights that one needs a lexicon to keep up with the various acronyms that the corrupt activities have become associated with (see http://www.m.myjoyonline.com/marticles/opinion/moderns-terms-in-the-contemporary-corruption-landscape). Regrettably, the President seems unable or unwilling to do anything about these activities, in part, because it is hard to imagine how his office is not complicit in some of them.
The sale of Merchant Bank to FORTIZ is illustrative of the conflict of interests that bedeviled 2013. Engineers & Planners (E&P), owned by the President’s brother, owes the state owned bank an astonishing $38 million, which it has refused to service since his brother became Vice-President. An attempt by the bank to call the loan and reach out for E&P’s assets comes to nothing because the issue is escalated to the desk of his brother. In the interim, the troubled bank is forced to liquidate. Rand company’s offer to acquire a 75% stake in the bank for GH?176.4M is rejected in favor of FORTIZ’s offer to buy a 90% stake for GH?90M. The lead lawyer for FORTIZ, E&P and the President is Tony Lithur and the Attorney-General just happens to be a partner in Tony Lithur’s chambers. Such unlawful, unethical and ungodly conflicts can be seen in GYEEDA, SADA, RLG, JUSPONG, etc.
The cronyism culture seems to have replaced the culture of silence resulting in too many square pegs in round holes. Watching the vetting of ministers was a painful exercise as MPs took turn to ask potential ministers about their marital status, favorite food and secondary school lovers. Does it surprise anyone then that we end up with Vickileaks? The president’s performance evaluation of ministers needs to start with a resolve to eliminate cronyism. The government has become too much about his friends and family as Al Bagbin boldly told him.
The chicanery in high places, especially the ministry of information, has significantly damaged confidence in government. Is it really necessary for a minister to lie about whether the President met Andrew Solomon? Why so many lies about the media fund? Why does the ministry information speak for and lie on behalf of E&P, etc.
All in all, 2013 has been a challenging year as we seem to be moving forward in reverse. It seems like the SADA nkomfem have come home to roost!
To our readers and supporters we say Afe Nhyia Pa!

ANN