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Opinions of Sunday, 27 May 2012

Columnist: Kpebu, Seidu

Does the Ghana Integrity Initiative have any Integrity?

...supporting Jake's 'bungalowgate'

By Seidu Kpebu

I listened with bated breath when Mrs Gloria Ofori Kwafo of the Ghana Integrity Initiative granted an interview to Radio XYZ, an Accra based private radio, on their six o'clock evening news on Thursday 24th May. The official clearly supported the immoral acquisition of state bungalow by the Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Jake Otanka-Obetsebi Lamptey.

In her view government's decision not to sell the said bungalow at No. 2 Mango Street to Jake is wrong and possibly contemptible. According to her, government by that action is challenging, albeit, usurping the authority of the Supreme Court. She saw nothing wrong with such immoral, despicable and lack of integrity on the part of Jake attempting to acquire government property.

First of all, the government is not reversing the decision of the Supreme Court (SC), neither are they usurping the authority of the SC. What the government has done is to revise its decision to sell. Government is the seller and if after a change of mind the seller says I am no more interested in the sale, no court can compel the state to sell against its wishes.

Secondly, the SC ruling is not endorsing Jake's purchase of the bungalow. It simply says that he has the right to buy it and that the court could not see any corruption, abuse of office and conflict of interest in the transaction. On the issue of conflict of interest, the court declared lack of jurisdiction and therefore urged the plantiffs (Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Dr Edward Omane Boama - both deputy ministers) to complaint to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Let's recall that these individuals initiated the court action against Jake in 2008 in their private capacity as patriotic Ghanaian citizens.

It is mind boggling the double standards and lack of integrity on the part of our so-called civil society organisations who themselves look suspicious in their activities. If an organisation billed to police the integrity of public officials, turns round to condone the immoral and apparent attempted stealing of public property, then Ghana is at the mercy of challatants.

I do hope that the Ghana Integrity Initiative has some semblance of credibility left. On the evidence of the interviews they have been granting the media regarding Jake's 'bungalowgate' I gravely doubt that this 'political' appendage called GII has any moral authority left.

The GII that should have led the public out cry on the senseless and brainless decision by the unpatriotic judges at the SC is rather the cheerleaders endorsing it. Joy Online reports that: "Mrs Gloria Ofori Kwafo of the Ghana Integrity Initiative said the GII respects the decision by the Supreme Court and takes consolation in the fact that the judges even in their ruling which was in favour of the respondent made it clear they were not condoning the practice in which public officers buy state properties.

She said the burden of proof is important but was quick to add that if the Freedom of Information law were to have been passed, perhaps the plaintiffs could have had the evidence they needed."

Now, is this a serious organisation? What integrity do they have then? Who are they protecting? We the citizens or the powerful political class? This is absolutely shameful and nobody should take the GII as a serious organisation. This is one of the organisations that one is tempted to describe as agents collecting intelligence for foreign countries and organisations.

I am definitely not being charitable considering the gravity of the ruling by the SC. We as patriotic Ghanaians must think about the future of our country and our children, not about few nation wreckers and their appendages.

In fact, if it means disregarding the 1992 constitution in order to protect state property and security, I will support any government any day. Even the decision of the Cabinet not to sell the bungalow to Jake does not go far enough. The government should take steps to stop all such sales and to retrieve all government properties sold without any justification just like the buying back of the Tema Shipyard and Drydock from the Malasians.

I will take this opportunity to advice the NPP to distance themselves from the immoral act of their chairman lest it will haunt the party in the December elections. This same issue affected the fortunes of the NPP in the 2008 December elections. If they misjudge and use this ruling as a propaganda material, Ghanaians will perceive that they are again desperate to come to power to sell state property to themselves. Jake and all those who acted or act like him are not patriotic citizens and lack moral rectitude to lead us.

Is it not intriguing that from 2009, the Republic of Ghana has never won a major case in our courts? Is it not questionable that from 2009, the ruling party and members of the ruling party have never won a major case in our courts? And the judiciary expects us to hail and praise it? Ridiculous!!!

The fact that the NDC and the government still believe in this judiciary is very pathetic indeed. From day one of the NDC administration, I have said that our judiciary is full of right wing political ideologues who will do anything to scuttle a left wing political ideas. I am vindicated.

My parting advice to GII is that they should try to acquire intergrity before holding themselves up as saints. Their comments on the SC ruling on the Jake's 'bungalowgate' is regrettable and I don't want to believe that their stance now is because the person involved is Jake.