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Opinions of Monday, 12 March 2012

Columnist: Akuaku, Bennett

Did Gbevlo-Lartey Expose ‘Afraid’ Woyome?

If there is any Ghanaian whose name has consumed the most ink and paper in media circles in the last one month, it is Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, the embattled NDC financier currently entangled in the GH58 judgment debt brouhaha.

Ever since the story was broken by The Chronicle some weeks ago, the actual amount paid to him kept swinging like a pendulum; from GH?51 million, through GH?58million to even GH?96, making the entire saga, now labeled ‘Woyomegate Scandal’, too bad to be true.

And even though government is wobbling over how to handle it, the plight of the one-time Ghanaian diplomatic representative to Austria has been compounded by latest revelations from the Rawlings office that he had lied to the Austrian government that he had given him (Rawlings) €500,000 to rebuild his gutted house.

Sadly, while the saga seems to be taking its ‘gargantuan dimension’ every passing day, one area that many media practitioners seem to be glossing over is the possible build-up to the current political crescendo.

Though known to be rich from whatever source, (remember WOFA?) Woyome hit the top of the charts in the Mills administration when he reportedly sponsored some hundreds of Ghanaians to the 2010 FIFA world cup in South Africa. This was followed by other events and alleged sponsorships of some Muslims to Mecca etc. But the last time he was in the news (big time) was in October, 2011 when he was cited in the twists and turns of the Hohoe North NDC politics, where he was cited for allegedly organizing people against the national security coordinator, Lt. Col. (Rtd) Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, and also impressing upon the president to sack him because he (Gbevlo) was ‘useless, ineffective, and an enemy of the state’.

Led by the former Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Hohoe, Victor Herman Condobrey, series of demonstrations were held in Hohoe and Accra, with Condobrey boasting that the security guru had ‘touched the lion’s den’ and would thus face his wrath. The hundreds of demonstrators asked the president to choose between victory in 2012 and Gbevlo-Lartey, with the most humiliating allegation being that the security capo had been feeding the president with fabricated information and lies. The initial publications on the subject (Oman Fm and Peacefmonline) were captioned: ‘Gbevlo Lartey In Lion’s Den’.

This prompted effusions from the security coordinator, who counter-alleged that: “the protests were orchestrated by one man; somebody who thinks that he is the richest person in this country; somebody who thinks that he looks after everybody; somebody who thinks that everybody should kneel down before him; not me Larry.”

Though he would not name anyone, his response, captioned: ‘I Won’t Kneel Before Anybody’-Gbevlo Fires Back’, in the media (JOY Fm) quoted him firing warning shots to his enemies in this unequivocal tone: “P-l-e-a-s-e, P-l-e-a-s-e, find out, I have given you a lead, just go ahead and find out. And I am telling you, that guy whatever he thinks of himself, he should keep it to himself, he doesn’t bring it to the doorstep of Larry Gbevlo Lartey!”

Interestingly, a few days after that warning, Editor of New Punch newspaper, Ato Sam, also known as Baby Ansaba, told Asempa Fm that, his investigations in the Hohoe North Constituency had nailed Woyome, as orchestrating the anti-Gbevlo Lartey demonstrations. Myjoyonline captioned the new development: Alfred Woyome Behind Anti Gbevlo Lartey Demo - Baby Ansaba

It must be noted that in the midst of all this media brouhaha, nothing was heard of the millions of cedis judgment debt issue, part of which had already been paid several months back to the NDC financier. Another interesting observation is that in spite of the dozens of court reporters in Ghana, virtually nothing was reported in the media concerning the ruling that Woyome had won a court case against the government of Ghana, and for which reason he was to be paid some monies. For some strange reasons too the payments, involving such huge loss to the state were also made on the blind side of the many business reporters around. Then just as the whole deal seemed to have been signed, sealed and delivered, the scandal started hitting the newsstands in early December, 2011 with such unprecedented rapidity.

A subtle scan of the synopses of events also noted that even before the Chronicle smelled the story, one other person who had ‘intercept’ the information was media magnate and NPP MP for Assin North, Kennedy Agyapong. It should not be forgotten that Ken owns both Oman Fm and NET 2 TV. The rest is now history. For now, it is not certain who actually gave out the ‘castle-leaks’ to the media, though developments from then on, coupled with the political give-and-take have been interesting , if not alarming. Birds are already whispering that the leakage was the direct fallout of the political problem from Hohoe. As we speak today, both men are licking their wounds in one way or the other. While the security capo’s son (Nestor), over whom the ‘war’ started, was disqualified from contesting the NDC parliamentary primaries in the Hohoe North Constituency, Woyome’s tears will continue to flow for as long as it matters. The Rawlingses will not like to see him anymore, some NDC gurus are already treating him like a leper by distancing themselves from him, one minister has already been sacked while another one has resigned because of him, it is likely he could be asked to refund the money, and above all he could go to jail. Giving the hue and cry the payment has generated in the country, it is not surprising that some people are already branding him on the internet as Ghana’s ‘21st Century Ackah Blay Miezah’.

But as the case stands now, between the two ‘gentlemen’ (Gbevlo and Woyome), who is actually caught in the lion’s den? Your guess is as good as mine. Whichever way one looks at it Gbevlo is likely to be dancing in his bedroom because his ‘adversary’ appears more bruised in the bullfight.

When it comes to politics it does not take long to shift civil relationship to the precipice of disaster.

By Bennett Akuaku (Negative Realities)