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Opinions of Monday, 24 July 2006

Columnist: Nkrumah-Boateng, Rodney

Ala Adjettey and Obed Asamoah-Two Sides of a Tainted Coin

‘I’d rather have him inside the tent pissing out than have him outside pissing in’

Following ex-Speaker Peter Ala Adjettey’s recent mutterings about current corruption in Ghana, the NPP government must clearly be squirming in its wet shoes and reminiscing over these words of wisdom that US President Lyndon B. Johnson famously uttered in respect of FBI boss Edgar J. Hoover in 1971. And this is simply because when a man who was with the NPP from day one and was the number 3 in government by virtue of his position, comes out with such a bombshell, it must carry some weight and credibility, and people are likely to sit up and start asking probing questions. Not to talk of the political embarrassment as opposition figures rub their hands in glee and mount their high horses to denounce the government as a band of thieves.

But the NDC has not been devoid of such fallouts before, with damning consequences. Not too long ago, Dr. Obed Asamoah, the NDC chairman and perennial Foreign Minister-cum-Attorney-General-cum Minister of Justice in the [P]NDC era, suddenly found himself out of favour and out of office. He ran to the media and launched a stinging attack against his party, denouncing it as undemocratic and calling it all sorts of names. NPP supporters and their patrons had a field day rubbing coarse salt into NDC wounds whilst NDC stalwarts denounced him as a bitter man who was just spouting venom.

The two scenarios bear chilling similarities. A big wig in a party, who is close to (if not at the heart of) its machinery suddenly finds himself out in the cold. Perhaps he believes he has not been treated fairly, after all he has done for his party. He attacks the party of which he was an integral part, making all sorts of damning revelations. Whilst the opposing side hails him as a brave man, the party of which he was once a leading member now denounces him as a bitter person who simply resents being cast aside and is full of sour grapes. In both cases, a valid question is why the politician in question did not resign earlier on grounds of principle but enjoyed all the trappings of power, and is complaining only now. Why be a part of a corrupt and/or autocratic party?

Of course, there may well be merit in the case that both of these gentlemen made against their respective parties after the love affair cooled down. Their sheer standing and extent of involvement in the party make compelling cases and lend these charges a great deal of gravitas. In the case of the NPP charges, these need to be looked at seriously indeed, with specific charges being provided by Ala Adjettey. Of course as a lawyer, he would know the value of backing up allegations with credible, clear facts. It will not do for him to make general allegations and then leave it there, for he does no one (himself included) a service by so doing, as no court of law will convict on such premises. If specific allegations are made and are proved, then of course one would expect those responsible to be dealt with according to law. The government and its supporters cannot and must not be allowed to obfuscate the issue by attacking the person of Ala Adjettey.

That said, however, we Ghanaians as a people must ask hard questions of those who claim to be saints when they have just been happily supping with the ‘devil’ and their bellies are full to bursting. However credible his claims are, Ala Adjetey must tell us whether as the nation’s number 3 in his role as Speaker, and again as a leading NPP member, he was aware of the corruption he is now complaining about. If so, what did he do about it? Why wait till he lost his position as speaker? Would the honourable thing to do at the time not be to resign in disgust from office on principle and then make his claim? Or was he a part of it and has now undergone a conversion a la Saul on the road to Damascus? He cannot escape these legitimate questions.

The same applies to Obed Asamoah. Was he not aware the NDC was autocratic? What sort of minister of justice was he if he was part of an autocratic party? Why did he wait till he lost the chairmanship before weeping into a bucket and baring his soul to us? Again, what was his role in the autocratic machinations of the party he once chaired (presumably dictatorially)? And what is his take on the ‘money under mattress’ affair? Both men, in my estimation, have lost the moral high ground, however valid their claims may be in fact.

It is simply not good enough, for an NPP supporter to claim Obed Asamoah is a saint and hero for speaking out and then turn around to dismiss Ala Adjetey as full of sour grapes, and the vice versa applies. We must desist from rank hypocrisy and learn to encourage and respect men and women in public life who have the moral courage to resign on grounds of principle when they are unhappy with the way their party or government policies go. In the buildup to the Iraq War, Britain’s Clare Short and Robin Cook resigned their ministerial positions because they profoundly disagreed with the war, believing they could not in good conscience defend the government on this. They thus acquired a great deal of political capital and respect even among those who were in favour of the war.

African politics could do with men and women of some integrity. Even if their claims are true, Messrs Adjetey and Asamoah cannot just be let off the hook just on that score. They are tainted by their past association. Either they knew what was going on and did nothing (which is indefensible), or they did not know, which any JSS One pupil knows is simply a load of nonsense, given their positions in government and party.

Unless our rudderless politicians learn to allow principles to guide them, but rather decide to wail and paint themselves whiter than white only when dumped after they have gorged themselves on the booty, then they cannot and should not expect our respect. We cheapen ourselves and risk moral bankruptcy when we hail such people as saints. They are nothing of the sort. Let us not stomach these ‘cry baby’ stomach politicians.



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