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Opinions of Monday, 20 June 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

It Takes One to Know One

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I did not listen to Vice-President John Dramani Mahama’s interview with Voice of America’s Shaka Ssali, but I am inclined to vehemently disagree with the former Information Minister under the government of former President Jerry John Rawlings that accusations of corruption being leveled against the Mills-Mahama administration are, somehow, patently unfair because they largely happen to be coming from members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (See “John Mahama: Corruption Criticisms Unfair, Damaging” 6/16/11).

In reality, such accusations and allegations are very fair precisely because it is quite rare for members of the same ideological suasion, political party and government who have been feeding fat at the expense of the ordinary Ghanaian citizen to expose their collective wiles and shenanigans, unless one faction or another finds itself to be mischievously and/or deliberately left out of the proverbial equation. And when such accusations are coming from the self-righteous Mr. Rawlings, then it becomes all the more relevant and authentic, since it is an open secret that the longest-ruling Ghanaian strongman also ran the most corrupt government in the history of postcolonial Ghana.

To-date, Mr. Rawlings has yet to release or cause the release of the records containing his salary and perks spanning between December 31, 1981 when he ousted the Limann-led People’s National Party (PNP) and January 1992, when Flt.-Lt. Rawlings became the first elected president of Ghana’s Fourth Republic. The Rawlingses also have yet to account for their ability to school their children in some of the most expensive institutions abroad, while students at the country’s major universities were forced to stay at home for months on end for protesting extortionate governmental policies.

Then there is the strikingly scandalous case of Mabey and Johnson, in which key operatives of the Rawlings government, largely cabinet appointees and their deputies, facilitated the massive milking and bilking of the Ghanaian taxpayer by a family-owned British culvert- and bridge-making company to the tune of billions of cedis over several years. Mr. Rawlings and his cronies would also thoroughly dismantle the entire Ghanaian state industrial apparatus and cheaply sell off public assets to himself, his cronies and associates at give-away prices. The list goes on and on and on.

Anyway, the latest attempt by the government of the National Democratic Congress to take Ghanaians, literally, to the cleaners came in the nightmarish form of the STX scandal, in which Messrs. Mills and Mahama attempted to flagrantly, cheaply and slavishly mortgage the future of Ghana at the projected sum $ 10 billion of the country’s oil revenue over a 10-year period to a South Korean building construction firm with the barest minimum of input from the Ghanaian real estate industry. At the time of this writing, the STX racket appeared to have been rigged up on life support, although some key government operatives insist that the project is pretty much on schedule, the apparently undue delay in prosecuting the same, notwithstanding.

Indeed, what seems to have evidently enabled the NDC cohorts to get away with its endless bouts of scamming the Ghanaian electorate has largely been the P/NDC’s uncanny ability to use abject and raw intimidation, as well as outright terror, to foist what the late Prof. Albert Adu-Boahen termed as a well-calibrated culture of silence on the Ghanaian people, who were then forced to prioritize personality safety over the immutable need and demand for justice, probity and accountability.

Of course, Ghanaians have not forgotten the most scandalous case of corruption in recent years, otherwise known as the “Cotton Case,” in which several millions of U. S. dollars were literally gifted to an African-American woman posing as an entrepreneur for a commercial rice-farming project that never got off the ground. Interestingly, in the latter instance, it was the now-President John Evans Atta-Mills who masterminded the Cotton scam.

And so when Mr. Mahama bitterly complains that “a lot of the criticisms have been unfair,” the Vice-President is not leveling up with the Ghanaian public. Of course, Mr. Mahama is spot-on accurate in acknowledging the fact that when accusations of corruption against his government come from NDC apparatchiks, precisely because members of the Rawlings posse are quick to brush off any blatant evidence of corruption identified and brought up to light by members of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), they are very damaging.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (, 2011). E-mail: ###