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Opinions of Friday, 29 February 2008

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

I Don't Get This Anane Joke!

President Kufuor’s decision to reappoint Dr. Richard W. Anane to the post of Minister for Road Transport is rather questionable, to put it modestly. It may be recalled that the former Minister for both Road Transport and Health was pressured to resign his post following the findings of investigations conducted by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Back then, in December 2006, Anna Bossman’s Commission found the then-Road Transport Minister to have been guilty of unethical professional conduct, administrative corruption, conflict of interest and blatant abuse of power (Statesman 2/14/08).

As may be vividly recalled, Dr. Anane, who has also served as a cabinet appointee to the defunct Ghana Airways Corporation (GAC), took his case to the Appeals Court which pronounced CHRAJ’s findings to have been “procedurally invalid.” In essence, what the latter phrase implies is that while, in sum, the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice had been in no way remiss in its adverse findings against the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Kumasi Nhyiaeso, the mere fact that such investigation had been undertaken on the “hearsay” basis of media reports, had seriously prejudiced the outcome of the investigations.

As the Statesman’s reporter Cynthia Boakye related, “The court ruled ‘that CHRAJ’s decision to investigate Dr. Anane was based on media reportage and not on any formal complaint from an identifiable person(s) [and] was [therefore] a recipe for chaos, irrespective of the good intentions of the Commission.”

On the face of it, needless to say, the Court appears to be in the right; the problem, however, is that by so “technically” ruling, the Appeals Court stood to seriously undermine the traditional watchdog role of the media in facilitating good governance as well as the smooth operation of national affairs in general.

For instance, initial media reports indicated that Dr. Anane’s unprofessional management of the Ghana Airways Corporation may well have speeded up the total collapse of the nation’s hitherto quite reputable airline. And the latter charge, it may be recalled, involved the wrongful use of salaried government employees in furtherance of the prosecution of Dr. Anane’s long-distance and financially crippling extramarital affair, during which affair the accused fathered an American-born son.

Indeed, his grossly unprofessional conduct stemmed from the fact of Dr. Anane having unethically and, perhaps also, criminally compromised his official, executive position – and thus national security – by illicitly consorting with an African-American woman, a Ms. Alexandra O’Brien, who was in Ghana, officially, on a contractual business with the government.

In sum, even assuming that the NPP-MP for Kumasi-Nhyiaeso were in no way criminally culpable, still, his woefully embarrassing inability to conduct himself with the dignity of a major cabinet operative in the Kufuor government, in of itself, automatically renders Dr. Anane unfit for executive office. For it goes without saying that the mere fact of a behavioral defect being judicially pronounced not to be tantamount to criminal culpability, does not necessarily exculpate the subject of accusation from the equally relevant and damaging charge of unethical behavior. For, needless to say, an unethical behavior invariably exacts the same deleterious toll on national development just as harmfully as criminally culpable behavior.

What we are seriously concerned with in this particular instance, is the apparent fact of President Kufuor’s woeful inability or abject and flat refusal to appreciate the glaring fact of Dr. Anane being incontrovertibly akin to a veritable package of damaged goods. And the logical procedure for dealing with damaged goods is to promptly discard them, lest they rapidly infect the hitherto wholesome lot. Or is this also just another typical case of “justice Kufuor style”? We once witnessed this kangaroo’s approach to justice-and-fair-play in the lead-up to the NPP’s national delegates’ congress, last December, and did not like it one bit!

On a more practical note is the fact that in adamantly deciding to reappoint Dr. Anane to his former post of Road Transport Minister, Old Sleepy Eyes appears to be thumbing his nose at the Ghanaian people, particularly the parliamentary opposition and their sympathizers. The naked problem here, however, is that grossly unethical behavior is not a partisan problem; rather, it is a national development canker that must be promptly identified, as such, and extirpated long before it festers into a national executive pandemic.

And with exactly ten months to go before President Kufuor takes his final and official bow off the postcolonial Ghanaian political landscape, and knowing Dr. Anane to be one of the protégés of Mr. Kufuor, at least in the estimation of the Statesman, the only logical reason subtending the reappointment of the former Road Transport Minister may likely be one of cosmetic rehabilitation. Cosmetic rehabilitation because those of us who have avidly followed the Anane episode can only scratch our heads in disgust and embarrassment.

Even more curious is the fact of Dr. Anane’s professional expertise not lying in the realm of either civil engineering or road construction. And with a piddling ten months to the end of the Kufuor administration, exactly what magical – or is it Midas – touch could Old Sleepy Eyes be expecting Dr. Anane “O’Brien” to bring to bear on our quite unenviable state of road-transport development?

Even so, we are equally obliged to counsel Ms. Anna Bossman’s CHRAJ against resorting to what may aptly and disturbingly be termed as the witch-hunting of Dr. Anane.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “When Dancers Play Historians and Thinkers,” a forthcoming essay collection on postcolonial Ghanaian politics. E-mail: okoampaahoofe@aol.com.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.