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Opinions of Monday, 13 August 2012

Columnist: Ansah, Owusu Koduah

“Ghana Alert”- President John Mahama and STX $2600.00 bribe

It is said that ‘truth’ is sacrosanct and people of integrity espouse this popular, view or belief. On the contrary in our country Ghana, falsehood and lies are sacrosanct and the best liar wins the day. Once upon an event, the then Vice president led a team of legislators including some (12 member delegation) members of the Council of State to NEGOTIATE on behalf of Ghanaians in South Korea. His job description was to verify the authenticity and all technical details of a contract between STX Engineering Company of South Korea and the people of Ghana. As a Vice president who has been voted into office by the good people of Ghana, it was incumbent on him to exhibit due diligence in the discharge of duty, even if there were deviants in the delegation. Before they could settle down and scrutinize the paperwork or documents, our smart lenders, the STX group had passed fat envelopes containing $2600 to each member of our August delegation. I believe the first thoughts that came into their minds were to find calculators and multiply this amount by Zongo lane in Central Accra.
According to Hon Albert Abongo, the then Minister of Works and Housing, these ‘shopping soli, or item 13 were not used to bribe them but were only gifts. The irony of this serious situation is that the Vice president and members of parliament, who are accountable to the people of Ghana every four years, never thought about this gargantuan issue for a second and gullibly took these bribes. As for Dr. Kofi Awoonor and Totobi Quakye, the least said about them the better. Their disservice to Ghana during the PNDC regime is well documented for political historians to digest.
Now it is on record that Ghana’s NEW president took ‘something’ from the South Koreans and cameras in the conference room captured everything that went on. If His Excellency John Mahama had known that he was a president in waiting, he would have cracked the whip to clean the mess. I know people are going to brand me as an opposition twerp but this is why we have chosen the path of free speech and democracy. He was the Vice President of a country who was bribed by ordinary citizens of another country. This is very serious. Did he think this matter was going to end in Seoul because everybody had gotten his share, folks? Hey, Integrity is INTergrity and is INTEGRITY and you cannot cut corners in an upright world. If the president pocketed this amount, only God knows the quantum of bribes he has already taken ever since he became a public servant. This cannot be swept under the carpet and he has to come clean and refund the money to the Koreans and apologize to all Ghanaians. And to all members of parliament on the delegation, they should be disqualified to contest elections for a period of time by a competent court. I am surprised that Ghana Integrity Initiative and Nana Oye Lithur have kept mute on this
It is unfortunate that in Ghana, Public Service is Self Service. People use public service as a route to enrich themselves and leave our people in abject poverty, because of this, our people have no sympathy for public office holders and this attitude of public servants must change. How is our president going to fight bribery and corruption if he has indulged in it himself? How are we going to fight cheating as a nation if the first gentleman is a cheat himself, to which members of his party like Ato Awhoi and would use to blackmail him? The NPP is also going to have a field day and our nation will suffer.
To recapitulate, Ghana our dear country is suffering from the effects of finagling, that is to use devious or dishonest methods to achieve one’s ends. Our doctors cannot diagnose simple ailments, our engineers cannot supervise the construction of better roads and our drivers cannot even read road signs and it is not surprising that we have carnage on our roads, and the list is endless. There is indiscipline everywhere and our Senior High students would also beat and manhandle good invigilators because they have been prevented from cheating. We need to change now, no one is excluded and I know it can be done. Mr. President, the ball is in your court.

Ansah, Owusu Koduah
Denver, Colorado