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Opinions of Friday, 30 September 2016

Columnist: thechronicle.com.gh

Feature: Guilty or not, the Ford gift would not go away

What is this that I am hearing? Oga Kwatakwata contravened the gift policy when he took the Ford Exhibition car from a Burkinabe contractor, who himself took a whopping US$650,000 from bungling state officials for constructing this nation’s equivalent of a Jericho Wall around a four-plot state property next door.

What should be music in the ears of those seeking an end to corruption, is beginning to sound like a waffled drumbeat. What CHRAJ is saying is that Oga Kwatakwata is guilty of accepting a gift he should not have taken. Forget about the conclusion from spineless CHRAJ officials that it did not amount to a bribe.

What is it then, when a President receives a gift from a contractor who has executed a state contract and been paid more than ten times the actual worth of the contract, after which he offers the Oga Kwatakwata a car he might not have solicited for?

With one foot already in the grave, the bald old man has held more chalk and teaching manuals than studying the award of contracts in all forms. But when a wall around a four-plot property cost US$650,000, it must be strange, even in Jericho, which is why the Ford Exhibition car gift went beyond a mere gift.

In any language, it is a bribe.

Whatever CHRAJ might have said, the fact that it took four solid years and a young reporter’s investigation to bring the affair to the attention of the long suffering people of this nation is the story.

The old man might not b e a quantity surveyor, but I bet my bottom cedi, that wall could not have cost more than US$50,000, which is why eyebrows would continue to be raised at the project and its gift.

Those who decided to save Oga Kwatakwata’s brushes by entering a plea of not culpable of conflict of interest, bribery or fraud, in relation to the manner in which the gift was given to him, were speaking more from the fear factor than an analysis of the real situation.

If Oga contravened the Gift Policy of his own administration, what this means is that the leader of this society, who left the slave Castle under a Certificate of Emergency, ought to purge himself. He cannot purge himself by doing nothing.

I am told that the commission has come out with a 78-page report. At my age and disposition, reading a 78-page report is an invitation to subject the eye to strain, which is why, as an academic, with several years experience of directing students to research into matters of such nature, I have decided to interpret the report in a simple manner.

Those singing the praises of Oga Kwatakwata, and thinking the matter is over, might indeed, be simpletons. There is more to this report than the political lenses on offer now. Like Muhammad Ali once said: You can run, but you cannot hide.

A time would come when the report would be given its proper meaning, which is why the jubilation should be put on hold.