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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Columnist: Akoto, Akwasi A. Afrifa

Ghana, Since the "Birth" of A.A.Woyome...

Since the “gargantuan crime” of C920 billion came to light, citizens have been preoccupied with the case; and rightly and justifiably so, because the greatest obstacle to a country’s development is corruption. For there is no way a country can effectively fight hunger, poverty, disease, create developmental projects or attract investments if corruption becomes the daily bread of a government. So while we continue to put pressure on Mills’ government to get to the bottom of the “gargantuan crime,” citizens must not lose sight of or forget the other important happenings since Woyome came into being. And trust me much has happened. Below are some of the highlights.

MILLS’ SIX WEEK ABSENCE.

Before the 2012 budget was read, the president left for Canada and America for what the Castle called “a working vacation." The country was kept abreast of the president’s movement until he got to the US. In the US – or in Cuba?- the nation would be thrown into a state of panic when the president was not heard from for about a week or so. To calm the nation, Mills would seek a photo-op audience with UN boss, B.K.Moon; take a tour of the New York Stock Exchange as a tourist and then call into Radio Gold; all in an effort to show the world that he was indeed where he said he was and was doing what he was expected to be doing. He would eventually return home but would sneak out of town on Christmas Eve- less than a week after his return. Till now, no one knows, for sure, the reasons behind the president’s bizarre and erratic "behavior."

GOVERNMENT BONDS.

For the first time in a long time, not a single foreigner bought bonds issued by government in December last year. Despite the highest yield offered since this government came into power, foreign investors would not take the bait. While the “experts” attributed this disturbing news to the three generally known factors - political, risk and currency depreciation – there was no doubt that foreign investors stayed away because of the apocalyptic picture the president had painted of an inevitable electoral violence. (Most of the president's apocalyptic vision were revealed when he was in foreign countries...like when he met UN boss Moon)

Citizens would also remember the president’s spokesperson, Koku Anyidaho’s threat to opposition leaders that they would be mercilessly dealt with. Koku’s statement, which was made on foreign soil - London-, coincided with the issuing of the bonds. Thus it was not surprising to see the lack of interest and confidence shown by foreign investors. After all, what sane man would put his money in a country in which opposition leaders are constantly threatened. ROT AT GHANA STATISTICAL SERVICE-GSS.

As part of an agreement with donor nations, the GSS was audited by an internationally reputable firm. And the auditor's findings were terrifying. It came to light that the GSS had been cooking the books; manipulating numbers and figures -something that could not have happened without government's approval. Consequently, the GSS boss, Grace Bediako was let go, due to scape-goating or her refusal to play ball. Citizens would remember that in the late 1990s, the IMF fined Ghana $20 million for cooking economic numbers. Then Mills was in charge of the economic team in his capacity as Vice President.

Right now, it would be in the nation’s interest if “numbers” like CPI, PPI, census etc were thoroughly reviewed. None of these numbers can be trusted at this stage.

RECORD DEPRECIATION OF THE CEDI.

The Cedi has lost more than half its value since Mills came to power. And it continues to get worse over the past month or so. In Bloomberg News’ January 2012 report, the Cedi was referred to as “ the world’s third worst performer against the Dollar.” The report would go on to state that the Cedi “traded at the lowest since May 1994 when Bloomberg began compiling data” on Ghana. Go figure.

COLLAPSE OF THE PENSION SCHEME –NPRA.

According to the chairman of the National Pension Regulatory Scheme (NPRA,) Mr. Richard Asante, the collapse of the new pension scheme introduced by the Mills government in September 2009 is imminent. As such, the “rented press” have been tasked to demonize Mr. Asante in order to shut him up. The Informer Newspaper is leading the charge.

“GUILTY BY BLOOD.”

Since it was the P-ndc that introduced the politics of “guilty by association,” we can report, without feeling petty or remorseful, that Mercy Ablakwa , the sister of deputy Information minister and MP aspirant, Samuel Ablakwa, was arrested for forgery in the United States. The worst part of the news is that Miss Ablakwa is schooling in the US on government’s scholarship. And to carry the argument of “guilty by blood” to its logical conclusion – by following the P-ndc’s template- we will like to call on the honorable minister to resign his post and not to seek a seat in our august house; since his sister’s transgressions make him unfit for these offices.

So as citizens can see, a lot has happened since the birth of Woyome. But everything that has happened do not come anywhere close to the most “gargantuan crime” in our history. For underneath every problem in the country is corruption- be it moral, ethical, financial etc. And until the nation gets to the bottom of how Woyome, in collusion, with government officials –including the President- conspired to dupe the nation of GHc920b, all the other problems facing the country will never be solved.

The Woyome fraud is a test case and the world is Watching!

Akwasi. A. Afrifa Akoto.