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Opinions of Sunday, 14 August 2011

Columnist: Adu, Kwesi

In Defence Of the Ahwois

By Kwasi Adu

In our part of the world, where the predominant economic activity is partisan politics, it has become the norm for the elite to spend most of their time striving to be in control of the commanding heights of political power. Their very survival depends on it.

The reason for this state of affairs is that we have an elite that is underdeveloped in terms of adequate private sector capital resources or money that they could use to build manufacturing or processing industries. By far, virtually the only indigenous body that is capable of mobilising the required capital to establish industries and which would be capable of creating jobs is the government. Paradoxically, the same elite have adopted a rigid ideological position that the government should not engage in business. Without a manufacturing base, the country is condemned to a situation where we have to rely on the importation of products from foreign lands for our continued existence. Another truth is that the only way that our local business community can obtain foreign exchange to import their wares is to rely on the resources that the government obtains from the sale of raw materials, such as cocoa, wood products, and mineral resources.

It has therefore become crucial for the elite to want to control the government, so that by so doing, they could control the foreign exchange resources and borrow from abroad to satisfy the consumer needs of themselves, with the crumbs going to the rest of the population. To achieve this control, the elite are embroiled in a fierce competition with each other, using their political parties, in a bid to control the commanding heights of the political economy.

The faction of the elite that achieves the desired political control uses the government machinery to dispense patronage in order to maintain themselves in power. On the other hand, the faction of the elite that is not in power sets itself on a path to destroy those in government so that they can win at the next elections. To achieve this, the opposition may engage in the mundane enterprise to discredit those in power by foul or fair means. They are usually not interested in “national interest” issues. What they do, in their frustration, is to keep attacking personalities within the government, hoping to isolate those opponents from the rest of the population. The reason for choosing this path is simple. Because both opposition and government are in agreement about the use of state resources on themselves alone, the only option left for them is to describe the other in disparaging terms hoping that, by so doing, the electorate would turn away from their opponent.

The method is to portray their opponents as “bastards”, “greedy”, “blind”, “thieves”, “homosexuals”, “chimpanzees”, etc. In this enterprise, the accusers do not need to produce evidence to back their claims. All that they need to do is to shout the claims on radio and in the newspapers. They also hire “serial callers” among the unskilled and hard-to-employ sections of the society (due to a deliberately bogus educational system designed to keep the poor that way) as well as some unemployed persons, to occupy the radio airwaves. These people, who otherwise would not know where their next meal is coming from, would eulogise their masters while they lampoon the opponents of their masters. When these opposition elite are challenged to produce supporting evidence to back their claims, they would go and invent one. Imagine how the current major opposition tried to “prove” a state of insecurity in the country by relying on an incredibly fictitious story of passengers on a YuTong bus who were allegedly forced by armed robbers to rape fellow passengers on the Kintampo-Tamale Road! It turned out to be a figment of their imagination. Everyday on the radio and in the newspapers, the population is subjected to an orgy of unsubstantiated claims against personalities.

In this enterprise, there are two names that have become virtually endangered species in the politics of Ghana: “Tsikata” and “Ahwoi”.

In July 2008, I wrote in this paper (The Insight), how some people have been afflicted by a disease, which I called “Get a Tsikata”. The sufferers have an innate irrational fear and detestation of anyone called Tsikata. In that article, I wrote: “The sufferers of this disease, when asked, cannot point to any substantive reason for their affliction. However, these sufferers appear absolutely convinced that there is “something” about a Tsikata that makes him or her a ready target of their phobia. It does not matter what that “something” is. It does not even matter that they cannot point to that “something”. As far as they are concerned, there must be “something” that makes them feel that they have to dislike a Tsikata to the extent that they have to victimise him or her. It appears to me that there is some policy behind this affliction. The policy appears simple: “If any Tsikata pops his head above the parapet, cut him to size”.

That crusade has continued until today, to the extent that even an effort by Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata to earn an honest living has been subjected to an international campaign of vilification, inviting the Internationla Finance Corporation to disqualify him. It is clear that the loathing of the Tsikata’s was originally informed by their thinking that the Tsikata’s were close to the PNDC leadership and therefore needed to be prised off.

Following the 2008 elections, many of the sufferers of this Tsikata-phobia have had their affliction develop and extend into a full-blown Ahwoi-phobia. A few other NDC people have also contracted an Ahwoi-phobia and are shouting themselves hoarse against the Ahwoi’s, instead of improving their arguments (if they have any) against the Ahwoi’s. In the wake of President Mills’ victory, some who thought that they have a divine right to control anyone who runs on the ticket of the NDC were distressed that the new President was charting his own path. They had expected that it was they, who were going to instruct the new President in the appointment of Ministers and other appointees and determine which companies would benefit from contracts. Most important of all, they wanted their political opponents jailed, in spite of the decisions of the normal courts. They fail to realise that however the political bias that the judiciary may have against the NDC, it is unthinkable to expect President Mills to ask Lance Corporal Amedeka to visit judges in the night and abduct them to Bundase.

The stance of some of the anti-Ahwoi crusaders within the NDC has been informed by the view that it is the Ahwoi’s who, being friends of the President, are strengthening his hands against being controlled by those who think that they should be the ones in control. Having lost out in their political game-play, they have resorted to name-calling, describing the Ahwoi’s as “greedy bastards”, etc. On what exact issue that they claim the Ahwoi’s have been guilty over, they are unable to state. As for being “bastards”, the detractors appear to be only engaged in some sort of reverse thinking since that word more describes their own status of parentage rather than the Ahwoi’s.

So far, no one has been able to point to one single issue over which the Ahwoi’s have been “greedy” or corrupt. When they come to point to any such instances, we would gladly stand to change our minds. What the campaigners have confined themselves to, is some weird analogy that if the Ahwoi’s are close to the President, then they might have been “greedy”. Kwamena Ahwoi is still teaching in a university. Ato Ahwoi does not occupy any Ministerial position. He is not even a member of the NDC executive. What he occupies is a non-Executive chairmanship of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC). It means that he does not manage the Company. If it is because of the nature of the company of which he is Chairman, would they describe the Chairman of the Board of Directors of COCOBOD or that of VRA in similar terms?

Mr. Ato Ahwoi was not among the “advisors” who were prevailing on the President to cave in to the machinations of Kosmos Energy when Kosmos decided to off-load their shares to ExxonMobil without the consent of the government. He was not among the “advisors” who asked the President to drop any action against Kosmos for selling confidential information about Ghana’s oil to third parties. In fact, during the debate over those issues, Mr. Ato Ahwoi’s “national interest” position incurred the wrath of the US government that it ended in Mr. Ato Ahwoi being refused a visa to visit the United States. After all that fight for the “national interest”, Mr. Ato Ahwoi now virtually has the proverbial rotten egg on his face because the government decided to cave in to Kosmos. Mr. Ato Ahwoi was not among the NDC leaders, who, for reasons best known to themselves, ambushed the President to insulate the EO Group from corporate prosecution by allowing them to sell their shares to Tullow Oil.

Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi is the only Ahwoi who has a Ministerial appointment at the Food and Agriculture Ministry. So far, no one has been able to say that he has been greedy or corrupt. The latest allegation that he has just formed a haulage company to “cart imported rice to several destinations in and outside Ghana” flies in the face of the truth. While working for a Ghanaian businessman in 2007, I was the one who drafted a tenancy agreement between his company and that of Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi for the leasing of his work yard in Dansoman to Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi’s company for the purpose of using part of the businessman’s work yard for the parking of the haulage trucks of Mr. Ahwoi. That was in 2007, when the NDC was not in power. For the detractors of the Ahwoi’s to claim that suddenly, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, has used his ministerial position to form a company to “cart rice” is contemptible.

Left with nothing substantial to allege, they extend their revulsion to the brother-in-law of the Ahwoi’s. The critics question why the brother-in-law should have headed the Research Department of the Foreign Ministry. In 1983, I knew that brother-in-law to be working in Ghana’s Embassy in Liberia. I saw him when I was in exile in Monrovia in 1983. To express suspicion about the appointment of a person who, for the past twenty-eight years has been working in the Foreign Service, can only be classified as sour grapes on the part of upstarts whose only rise to high office is through the hijacking of the genuine struggles of other people to usurp power for themselves.

In my view, the real greedy bastards in the NDC are those who, in 2007 and 2008, moved from one African Head of State to the other, soliciting for funds, ostensibly for the NDC campaign, but who kept those millions to themselves. The real greedy bastards in the NDC are those who screamed against a government investigation into the circumstances surrounding the dubious award of contracts (in the NPP days) to an Israeli company to refurbish our embassies abroad, but who did not do the job after being paid millions of US Dollars. Their reason for opposing the investigation is that, the Israeli company has been giving them money. The real greedy bastards in the NDC are those who are buying government bungalows (just like the NPP did), in spite of the NDC 2008 campaign promise against that policy. The real greedy bastards in the NDC are those who prevailed on the government to sell out to Kosmos and the EO Group. The real greedy bastards in the NDC, are those who are asking the government to sell the Tema Shipyards to their Israeli business friends, following a CJA expose of the mismanagement by the current Malaysian owners. This is a classic example of taking advantage of the CJA’s call for the government to take it over and run it as a state company. The fact that Tema harbour could risk being a terrorist target if the Shipyards are sold to the Israelis does not matter to the greedy bastards- as long as they get their cut.

People should ask themselves whether any of the Ahwoi’s is involved in any of these.

As for the anti-Ahwoi’s in the NPP, all they can do is to descend into the gutter by claiming that Ato Ahwoi is a homosexual. What a laugh!

In writing these, I am fully aware of the possible backlash. I could almost hear the opponents saying “He has been paid to write this” or that it is because “he comes from the same area as the Ahwoi’s”. The misfortune of such people is that they know fully well, after working with some of them some time in the last century, whether someone ever paid me to sell my conscience. As for the tribal bigots, they do not care whether they contradict themselves when at some times, they describe the Ahwoi’s as part of a “Fante Confederacy” while at other times, depending on what they want to do, describe them as Sefwi. It would not matter. Their only real bellyache would be that someone should dare to come to the defence of their victims whom they are bent on devastating “pasa pasa”.

Now, the real greedy bastards must stand up!