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Opinions of Monday, 6 October 2014

Columnist: Antobam, Kobina

Alhaji Bature Got It Wrong

By: Kobina Antobam

I am here today to take issue with Alhaji Iddrisu Bature for making a very interesting about-face when he strayed from his well-known political leanings, as the managing editor of that popular newspaper he also owns, Al-Hajj, and so flippantly planted an idea in the minds of Ghanaians that Mr. Akufo-Addo is not or has never been corrupt. Of course, I am not here to accuse Mr. Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that he is a financially corrupt politician or a crooked Ghanaian citizen.

These days, every insufficiently informed Ghanaian has an opinion not only about everything Ghanaian but about every worldwide issue, and they don’t realize that their wild PERSONAL opinions do influence the easily gullible, politically and tribally star-struck one-track minds, who will swallow line, hook, and sinker every off-the-cuff supposition, praise, empty lofty accreditation, or any silly attribution, as authoritative.

Mr. Bature found the need recently to comment on the perception of the true gangster nature of Akufo-Addo supporters. He decided, under the same breadth, to sneak in a mitigating praise of Akufo-Addo that, “No one can accuse Nana Addo of corruption.” See Akufo-Addo’s gangster supporters will haunt him - Bature 

Why Mr. Bature would make such a sweeping hard-to-prove and unsupportable baseless claim of incorruptibility of another person, especially a politician, other than Bature himself, is beyond comprehension.

Though rare and not so easily accomplished, we all know that corruption can sometimes be proven with either concrete incontrovertible trail of evidence or by visible but mysterious display of opulence, unusual lifestyle improvements, expensive spending sprees, and luxury acquisitions not supported by a provable tract of honorable earnings. 

Perception of incorruptibility of any Ghanaian politician, on the other hand, is just that, a perception. So, for Mr. Bature to raise the bar so high for Mr. Akufo-Addo as not being corrupt makes one wonder what prompted him to make that empty claim in the first place. Or Mr. Bature knows something more about Akufo-Addo that the rest of us Ghanaians ought to know.

The other important reason for my raising this issue with Mr. Bature is that Mr. Akufo-Addo started campaigning for the presidency long before a New Patriotic Party candidate is selected to run for the office. So far, from all indications, it has become obvious that Mr. Akufo-Addo seems to find it difficult to tell Ghanaians about any concrete solutions he has under his sleeve to solve the political, economic, and social problems facing the country. 

Rather, Mr. Akufo-Addo has only been playing reactive defense ever since he said he was back in politics, and has flipped two sides of an egocentric message, his old age and his self-proclaimed easily debatable incorruptibility. After spending so much time unconvincingly trying to persuade Ghanaians that he is not too old to be president, his newest message is that, if we make him our President, he will not steal from Ghanaians. There seem to be only those two messages Mr. Akufo-Addo has been preaching to Ghanaians and nothing else. Please, sir, spare us the unnecessary boredom. 

For a politician to promise way in advance of his selection as President that he will not be corrupt makes Ghanaians’ hair stand up and very watchful of their possessions whenever this politician gets too close for comfort. This is also reminiscent of the late President Richard Millhouse Nixon of the U.S. who proclaimed on nationwide TV in the early 1970s that “I am not a crook,” when he was threatened with impeachment for authorizing the burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC. It was later proven on self-recorded tapes that Mr. Nixon was not “not a crook!” And he resigned.

Do you guys also remember that it was the same Mr. Nixon who, representing the United States of America, sat close to Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in Accra and at the Sekondi Gyandu Stadium to celebrate our independence from evil colonialists on March 6, 1957? He was the U.S Vice-President then, I believe. So, if a politician tells you that he is not a crook or will not steal from you, you better be alert, watch carefully and wait and you will eventually find out his true character.

The mere fact that Mr. Akufo-Addo promises not to steal from Ghanaians translates into his admittance that there is serious theft in government now and as has been in the past, especially during the time he served in various capacities in Kufuor’s administration. In other words, by saying he is not going to steal from Ghanaians, Mr. Akufo-Addo is admitting that he knew that there was clear theft around him in Kufuor’s government, but whether or not he participated in it is anyone’s guess. Note also that theft in office and corruption did not start with President John Mahama’s government.

His implied admittance now and silence then as the Attorney-General makes him an accessory to the prosecutable crime of corruption; that is, even if he claims he was just a fly on the wall and didn’t participate in the wanton theft of the Kufuor cabal, Mr. Akufo-Addo is still culpable for all criminal financial dealings that occurred under his national legal watch. Or would Akufo-Addo go further and absolve the whole cabal and claim zero theft and corruption and a 100% very clean NPP, including himself, during his service as an Attorney-General in Kufuor’s administration?

This is exactly why it will be unfair to allow Mr. Bature, who has demonstrated consistently that he is a straight-shooting editor of a newspaper, to get away easily with this distorted lopsided lofty pedestal on which he has hoisted Akufo-Addo. I would like to lower the pedestal a few notches for the simple reason that Mr. Bature, who has now proclaimed himself the “Akufo-Addo-is-not-corrupt” and “I-really-respect-him-for-that” pied piper, has inadvertently allowed Akufo-Addo’s atonal lip-syncing rabid infectious rats and yapping and barking rottweiler supporters to follow “piper” Bature’s tune with a discordant chorus by disturbing the little peace that we occasionally enjoy that Akufo-Addo has never been corrupt in his life. Duh! You all grow up, please!

Here is my take. Since the NPP started governing the country, Mr. Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been living a life of extravagance. His level of extravagance is way above the average Ghanaian lifestyle. Mr. Akufo-Addo is a very, very rich man by Ghanaian standards. 

Here is a man who was so distraught after losing the last elections that he chose to spend half a year in England to seek the face or voice, or whatever, of God, who was going to tell him, Mr. Akufo-Addo, to either stay out of politics for good or continue to chase hopelessly after the presidency of Ghana one, two, or three more times. Nobody knows why Mr. Akufo-Addo is so much a political masochist! 

By the way, the God of Ghana had failed him twice. But the God of England knows better than the Ghana God. So, that is exactly whom he decided that he needed or had to rush to England to consult. I guess the English God gave him the message he wanted to hear because he is back in the race again! I know I would pass out and never be right again when I wake up if I ever saw the face of God on this earth all by myself. Anyway, though I am not wasting sleepless nights over it, but if it ever happens that God decides to show His face to me, I would prefer to see the black face of the Ghana God than the white face of the God of England!

The serious point here is that, whether he lives in a home he owns in England whenever he travels there, or whether he stays in a hotel, or with friends, it is still very expensive for someone the stature of Akufo-Addo to travel constantly to England and live there for months on end. And I don’t believe Akufo-Addo travels coach as I and many of you do. By the way, coach is still expensive for many traveling Ghanaians. And majority of Ghanaians are so poor that they have never even seen the inside of an aero-plane. He also has a wife and children who constantly travel back and forth across the Atlantic. And he always travels with a large entourage, which includes his ubiquitous thuggish-looking bodyguards. 

When in England, Akufo-Addo has to move around, eat, receive regular medical attention, and, as a politician, organize public events there. He has to house and feed his entourage. Since Americans say that there is no free lunch, each of Akufo-Addo’s overseas trips is enormously expensive. And at home here in Ghana, Akufo-Addo always travels in a long motorcade, consisting of late model vehicles, that rivals a sitting President’s motorcade. 

Ghanaians would rather gloss over how he is always capable of paying his way here in Ghana and outside the country. I understand that it is a taboo, an unwelcome and uncomfortable subject for Ghanaians to ask their leaders how they make their money, constantly travel by air overseas, and live easily in the white man’s land, while many of us at home can’t even afford at least three square meals a day. 

For me, even if it’s a taboo or an uncomfortable subject for other Ghanaians, I will not shy away from that question. I will ask. With such an expensive lifestyle, does Mr. Akufo-Addo have an inexhaustible and un-replenish-able cache of completely honestly earned wealth? Some Ghanaians have alleged that Akufo-Addo is living off the millions of dollars his father “stole” during his years in politics and when he was briefly placed in office as a caretaker President. If Mr. Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s hands are not dirty with ANY stolen state funds, ever, then his father was an ingeniously super-rich Ghanaian “robber baron” who bequeathed all his inexhaustible wealth to his one son, because it does not look as Mr. Akufo-Addo’s coffers need replenishment at all. He keeps spending and living well without us knowing if the bottomless pit will ever be depleted and become dry or without us ever knowing the source(s) of his regular income.

Here is another example in my attempt to debunk Mr. Bature’s esteemed confidence in Mr. Akufo-Addo’s incorruptibility. A year ago when the issue of the mysterious sale of the Discoverer-511 drill ship by the Kufuor administration and the disappearance of millions of dollars came up in the news, many Ghanaians tried to tie Mr. Akufo-Addo to that drill ship debacle and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the net proceeds between the notorious sale of the drill ship and the nagging overdue GNPC debt settlement. Those who were dauntless and went after Akufo-Addo had their own plausible reasons for tying him to the curious drill ship disposal.

During the Judgment Debt hearings, Kufuor administration personnel took comfort in proclaiming loudly that they passed around a check for $3.5 million left over from sale between Accra and London and the money eventually disappeared. But, one prominent Ghanaian testified that the net proceeds were larger than $3.5 million. The witness claimed that the unnecessary sale of the Discoverer-511, which was worth a lot more than what it was sold for, netted the Kufuor government the publicly declared $24 million. And the so-called debt for which the drill ship disposition was to satisfy had been negotiated down to $12 million.

It is, therefore, easy to realize that these politicians were eager to insult the intelligence of ordinary Ghanaians by claiming the disappearance of $3.5 million instead of $12 million. My fellow Ghanaians, you do not have to think hard enough to come to the realization that, out of the remaining $12 million, $3.5 million was passed around and supposedly got missing. But the balance of $8.5 million cannot be discussed because it has become an untraceable “Discoverer-511 Dust” that will forever blow in the wind. Poof and the Discoverer Dust was gone! Disappeared!

Where does Mr. Akufo-Addo fit into this sad criminal activity? Some Ghanaians, (I didn’t say it), have claimed that, as an Attorney-General, Mr. Akufo-Addo was party to the drill ship deal and that he signed off on its sale and possibly the handling of the $24 million proceeds. Nearly a year ago, some Ghanaians insisted that Mr. Akufo-Addo, ex-President Kufuor, and others, should have been dragged before the Judgment Debt Commission to answer questions about the drill ship disposal, the GNPC debt settlement, and the disappearance of the remaining funds.

So, Alhaji Iddrisu Bature, with the infestation of the endemic corruption that has permeated and permanently settled in the core fabric of all Ghanaian activities, you are the one very person who should have been very careful in proclaiming the complete absence of dishonesty in a single prominent politician out of the totality of government employees, including especially politicians, who are all well-known to be on the take.

Mr. Bature, the next time you decide to vouch for any politician’s incorruptibility, please make sure you provide credible reasons to convince us of your claims. It is NOT true that “no one can accuse Akufo-Addo of corruption.” I can say for sure that only you, Mr. Bature, can make that sweeping assertion, but many other Ghanaians have their doubts about all politicians’ complete honesty and a great many of us will readily refuse to agree with you.

Good day.