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Opinions of Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Columnist: Okofo-Dartey, Samuel

And lead us not into temptation, Mr. president

I can resist anything except temptation-Oscar Wilde
Past and recent events breezing through the country have blown a section of us into a realm where we are constantly entertaining the idea of giving in to the temptation of short changing the nation for the satisfaction of our self-centred interests. Believe you me, it is now amply clear that certain individuals in high governmental offices who hitherto claimed they had the interest of the nation at heart and eventually had the mandate of the people are now building empires for themselves. It appears that in this country the norm is, you are cheated or you better cheat. Instead of serving the nation with the best of their capabilities, certain persons in the country are rather using their expertise to siphon state resources. What a shame!
One observation which of course seems to be a temptation that does not elude me is the idea that, it is either you are in bed with the ruling party or you an anathema to the government in power. Hardly can one be neutral or objective in this politically polarised nation and expect to genuinely succeed. Social interventions are heavily polluted with politics. Seriously, why are some road contractors card bearing members of both the NPP and the NDC? Why was Alfred Agbesi Woyome flirting with certain key members of the NPP when the NDC was in opposition? He later resurfaced when the NDC secured power in 2008 and later tainted Ghana’s history with his infamous judgement debt debacle.
In modern day Ghana, it is not about who merits what or a person’s skill and competence. It is about where you belong politically and tribally. The days of unflinching patriotism to the country are dead. The vogue of the day is simply this: owe allegiance to a political party, in the event that power is annexed, your reward will never slip you by. Pathetically, Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana has been fabricated into a land of limited opportunities for a few who owe allegiance to party bigwigs and party chairmen.
The temptation to become a self styled serial caller or a garrulous and bias social commentator of a political party is so overwhelming. But I would not be a sycophant for the sake of fleeting riches just like the others have done to drain and strip the nation of its wealth. Without mentioning names, there are government appointees turned Members of Parliament, who after their university education, took refuge under the umbrella of the NDC and they have suddenly metamorphosed into property owners.
Ironically, these persons were at the throat of the NPP bigwigs for amassing properties. They even went further to brand the NPP as a property grabbing party. As it stands, they are rather building filling stations, grabbing lands and mansions in prime locations with no sense of shame. To this end, the hoi polloi in the country instead of enjoying a progressive standard of living are constantly reminded to blame the NPP for their woes as being propagated by Anita Desoso and the so called economic sage, Fiifi Kwetey of the NDC.
May I know when the President is going to bring to book those individuals cited for misapplication of public funds in the GYEEDA report? Now, Woyome walks about a free man with little or no attempt by government to retrieve monies he took illegally. Due to the taste for personal interest other than national interest and the fact that our so called intellectuals are sloppy with their official duties, the management of African Automobile limited, out of nowhere, now have the guts to demand a judgment debt of 618 million cedis this year as against 16 million cedis in 2010. The management of Waterville Holdings Limited has also hinted of their refusal to refund the dubious 25 million euros payment it received.
It will perhaps take a miracle for Ghana to be saved from its economic doldrums. Utility tariff increments for water and electricity have been adjusted to a whopping 150 percent. There is surely no end in sight for better services or a possible reduction. The economic hardship surges unabated. What a sensitive government like the NDC could do was to increase public sector wage by a paltry 10 percent. What is the government doing to mitigate the plight of the poor market woman, the impoverished public transport drivers, the hustling ‘kayayeis’, food vendors baking under the sun as a result of the increments?
For now, I do not picture myself as the only one in this temptation of wanting to ride on the back of partisan politics and propaganda to riches and fame in an attempt to secure a fair share of the national cake. Those unemployed graduates are most miserable; if you do not know any big man, forget securing lucrative offers. And for those thinking of government scholarships, they must be rooted in the party of the day or turn to other means if they are not.

The economic fortunes of the country have been skewed towards a certain class of people. And these persons are protected even if they mismanage the nation’s scarce resources. It does not matter the government that is in power, if this phenomenon is allowed to fester any further, the repercussions will plunge our country into a state anarchy, that is, a stage where the strongest will walk over the less privileged.

As a result, it behoves the President to tie the loose ends of the frail economy, pluck those holes in key ministries where monies have been or are being siphoned to execute phony projects or risk presiding over a country where public office holders without restraint are craftily fleecing the nation of its scarce resources. The temptation to create, loot and share stolen booties from state coffers has risen to the level where certain government officials have formed companies within their own companies and have secured government contracts without going through the tendering or procurement processes.

Therefore, it is not enough for the Mahama led administration in an apparent show of a cosmetic fight against corruption to resort to the introduction of a Code of Conduct for public office holders that cannot arrest corrupt men. The truth is that a corrupt African politician does not fear or have any regard for any toothless Code of Conduct especially when it emanates from his own party in power. That which keep him in check are a President who does not dabble in corruption and is not quick in shielding evil doers.

I have always held the belief the future of Ghana is bright. However, from the little that I have witnessed over the years, I am tempted daily to do what others are doing at the corridors of power in order to secure my share of the national cake. For how long will this temptation persist in the face of an urgent call by the government for a collective patriotism when the government itself harbours unpatriotic elements? May God help us.



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