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Opinions of Thursday, 6 October 2016

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

If Mahama isn’t the most corrupt President, who is, then?

“Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish” (UN 2003).

In his State of the Nation Address on 19th February 2009, the late President Mills informed the Parliament that his government was looking into the decision to acquire two executive Presidential jets.

The late President Mills, however, descried the irrelevance in the acquisition of the aircrafts and maintained: "Ghana simply cannot afford the expenditure at this time and we certainly do not need two Presidential Jets" (thestatesmanonline.com, 16/06/2016).

Astonishingly, however, whilst the late Mills was joyfully delivering his euphonious state of the nation address in the parliament, the Vice President John Mahama, who also happened to be the chairman of the Armed Forces Council, was blissfully entertaining delegations from Brazil and busily negotiating the acquisition of five jets, including the most expensive hangar without the knowledge of the late President Mills.

Unsurprisingly, however, the late President Mills became suspicious of the whole deal and decided to put a committee together to review the deal, according to Mr Martin Amidu, the former Attorney General under President Mills.

By inference, the late Mills was extremely unhappy about the deal, hence setting up a committee to investigate his then vice president Mahama.

Indeed, it is an indictment on President Mahama and therefore the honest thing for him to do now is to come out and confute the corruption allegations, not just by words, but through actions.

Yes, President Mahama must do the honest thing by providing further and better particulars and give the green light to the committee set up by late President Mills to resume its work immediately without any interference.

By doing so, discerning Ghanaians will then take him (President Mahama) more seriously on his never ending claims of never been corrupt.

Interestingly, however, Mr Amidu went ahead and disclosed the identities of the members of the committee who were tasked to investigate the Processes of the Acquisition of Five Aircrafts (5) including Embraer 190 Aircraft and hanger for the Ghana Armed Forces.

Mr Amidu revealed that the committee members consisted of Mr. William Aboah, Mr. George Amoah, and Brig. Gen. Allotey (Rtd) former Judge Advocate-General was put together.

The fact that Mr Amidu had come out with the names of the committee members, I would like to believe that Mr Amidu was not belying the facts when he said that the late Mills set up a committee to investigate the then Vice President Mahama.

First of all, Mr Amidu had audaciously named the members of the committee set up by the late President Mills.

Secondly, the fact that none of the committee members has come out to repudiate or disassociate themselves from the allegations gives oxygen to Mr Amidu’s story.

The big question then is: why have they kept mute all this while? Your guess is as good as mine.

Mr Amidu continued: “the terms of reference of the Committee as I was instructed and drafted them for the late President were: “(I) to investigate the processes adopted in selecting, negotiating, and agreeing on the acquisition of the aircrafts; (ii) to investigate the competitive advantage, prices of the aircrafts and the level of economic and financial due diligence conducted by relevant agencies in the process of acquisition of the aircrafts; and (iii) to investigate any other matter that in the opinion of the Committee is reasonably related to the foregoing terms of reference.”

“Pressure groups never allowed the Committee to take off”, Mr Amidu maintained.

“But the very fact that the late President Mills even contemplated this committee meant that he was uncomfortable with and suspicious of the alleged inflated prices of the aircrafts”, Mr Amidu revealed.

In fact, I have a problem here. Why must pressure groups interfere with the work of a committee set up by President of the nation? Were the pressure groups interceding for the then Vice President Mahama? If so, did they also derive any benefits from the purchasing of the aircrafts or what?

Whatever their reasons, their actions were unlawful and can only be described as extraneous attempts to pervert the cause of justice.

Are we really serious as a nation at all? For if we were that serious, how can some pressure groups fight tooth and nail to stop a legitimate committee’s work?

You see, our problem as a nation is, we have ‘nodding yes men and women’ who are only interested in amassing wealth at the expense of the masses. For that reason they would move heaven and earth to achieve their ostensible objectives.

The fact, though, remains that the Late President Mills put his trust in Mahama, but if we were to believe Mr Amidu’s story, we can then conclude that Mahama betrayed the trust the late Mills reposed in him.

It therefore explains why the late President Mills set up a committee to investigate him.

But why must anyone blame the late Mills for going after his Vice President, Mahama?

Given that Mahama had involved himself in numerous dodgy deals, the late Mills was damn right to check on Mahama.

If you may also recall, somewhere in October 2010, the British media brought up sensational reports about how the then Vice President John Dramani Mahama, was lobbied by a British Cabinet Minister to get a reprieve for the ban imposed on Armajaro Holdings, one of the cocoa buying companies who were found guilty for smuggling the commodity out of Ghana.

It would be recalled that Armajaro Company was banned together with a few other companies, when the award winning investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas exposed the smuggling of uncountable bags of cocoa into neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire.

Shockingly, however, the British media reported that subsequent to the meeting between the then Vice President John Dramani Mahama and the British Cabinet Minister, Armajaro Company was given a needless reprieve and then started its operations.

Besides, the manner in which the then Vice President Mahama handled the STX Housing deal leaves much to be desired.

Even though the deal did not materialise, the then Vice President Mahama, gave us a bill of an excess of $250 million. How bizarre?

Moreover, after the failed deal with STX to build 30,000 housing units for the nation's security agencies, the NDC government entered into another deal with the GUMA Group, for the construction of 500 housing units.

The deal which was championed by President Mahama was widely criticised by various stakeholders, just as the STX deal, following the decision to side-line local construction firms in favour of the foreign company. The unusually high cost of the project was also a source of concern to many.

Tell me, if you were in the late Mills shoes, would you be happy with your vice president’s cloudy deals? No, I would not have entertained the geezer’s histrionics.

What’s more, President Mahama’s handling of dubious judgment debt payments also leaves much to be desired.

To be quite honest, it is only the heartless who will shamefully give gargantuan sums of money belonging to the nation to people who have no entitlement.

As a matter of fact, there is nothing wrong to pay genuine judgment debts. However, I strongly believe that if President Mahama’s government had handled the payments parsimoniously, the purported $850 million judgment and settlement payments would have been brought to the barest minimum.

The all-important question the discerning Ghanaians should ask President Mahama and his selfish and corrupt appointees then is: ‘If just under eight years, you have paid dubious judgment debts in an excess of $850 million, how much would you pay in sixteen years?

Indeed, it is in the light of these unresolved corruption scandals that I am appealing to discerning Ghanaians to be mindful and desist from giving President Mahama another nod in the forthcoming general elections.

K. Badu, UK.
Sources:
www.ghanaweb.com
www.martinamidu.com
www.thestatesmanonline.com