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Opinions of Saturday, 31 October 2015

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Akufo Addo Must Rather Be Commended

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Oct. 25, 2015

New Crusading Guide managing-editor Malik Kwaku Baako could not have put it any better and more poignantly, when he characterized the patently opaque process by which the Presidency solicits contractors for the production of “Presidential Diaries” as “naked robbery” (See “Processes for Printing Presidential Diaries ‘Naked Robbery’ – Baako Charges” / 10/25/15). After several calls, including one from this writer, went out for the Chief Resident of the Flagstaff House to reveal the firm solicited for the purpose most recently, we are told that Mr. John Dramani Mahama and/or his minions have revealed that it was a company called JIT Magazines and Diary Services that was awarded such commercial bid.

Now, the question that logically arises is exactly how such bidding process was conducted, and whether there was any official announcement put out for competitive proposals to be submitted to the presidency at all. If not, then it well appears that somebody either resident or employed at the Flagstaff House was out to criminally scam the Ghanaian taxpayer. More so because we are told that while the proprietor/contractor from the JIT Magazines and Diary Services was allowed to freely use Presidential Letterheads to solicit funds for the express purpose of printing the diaries, the contractor was not in any way required to render a public account of exactly how much money was raised and from what sources for the printing of the Presidential Diaries.

This is a gross violation of public trust because even as I noted in a previous column, the use of the image of the presidency, including Presidential Letterheads, is the bona fide property of the Sovereign People of Ghana and not the property of any private individual or group of individuals. If, indeed, JIT Magazines and Diary Services was authorized to use Presidential Letterheads to solicit printing funds for the so-called Presidential Diaries, as reportedly claimed by Messrs. Clement Apaak, Stanislav X. Dogbe and Felix Kwakye-Ofosu, then, of course, the people have a right to know exactly how much was raised, as well as how much of such funding as was reportedly raised was applied to the printing of the aforesaid diaries.

Now, where it gets tricky is the rather scandalously lame assertion by these so-called presidential staffers that the “state did not spend a dime, a cent or even a pesewa” in the production of these diaries. And on the latter count, we are also told that the Presidency usually prints about 1,500 to 2,000 diaries, at least according to Dr. Apaak. That still does not answer the critical question of exactly how many Presidential Diaries were printed in the latest instance. The New Crusading Guide’s Mr. Baako is also dead-on-target when he carps the Mahama Flagstff House for continuing to conduct the business of having the Presidential Diaries printed in the same opaque and corruption-prone manner, simply because it is the way that business has been done by previous administrations.

First of all, we need to establish when this untenably opaque process was put in place and precisely why no subsequent administrations apparently found no good reason to either change or improve upon protocol. This is what the tired concepts of “Fiscal Discipline, Transparency and Accountability” are indisputably about. As for the question of whether the 2016 Presidential Candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party ought to apologize for calling the fiscal responsibility and priorities of the Mahama government into question, in the matter of whether, indeed, the real amount involved in the printing of the Presidential Diaries was $1 million and not the $10 million claimed by Nana Akufo-Addo, in a public address to New Patriotic Party stalwarts in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, I beg to differ with Mr. Baako. And the crystal clear reason is because as yet we really don’t know the exact monetary figures expended in the printing of the Presidential Diaries.

Which means that Nana Akufo-Addo has yet to be proven wrong by President Mahama and his minions. Rather, we ought to be commending Nana Akufo-Addo for so opportunely bringing to light a practice that may not only have resulted in the bilking of the Ghanaian taxpayer to the tune of millions of dollars and cedis by the clearly unethical use of their name and reputation in the solicitation of funding for the benefit of a few highly placed politicians and their cronies in the corporate establishment, but may also have further enhanced the unsavory culture of official and executive corruption.

Let Mr. Mahama and his Flagstaff House Abongo Boys first fully settle accounts with the peope in the matter concerning the amount of revenue raised and the exact cost involved in the printing and distribution of the Presidential Diaries. Then and only then can Nana Akufo-Addo be justifiably prevailed upon to apologize for grossly misstating the facts which, by the way, did not exist, at the time that he promptly and aptly presumed to call the Chief Resident of the Flagstaff House to account.