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Opinions of Monday, 28 January 2013

Columnist: Antobam, Kobina

Kufour Off To Switzerland AGAIN!

By: Kobina Antobam

A press release a little over a week ago announced that our dear “Excellency Right Honorable” ex-President John Agyekum Kufour was on his way to Switzerland AGAIN. But before he gets to Switzerland, the announcement said, Mr. Kufuor would go to Nigeria, meet with former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and give a speech at Mr. Obasanjo’s library. The two would then travel together to Germany to attend some kind of Berlin Africa Summit. After that, Mr. Kufuor, all by himself, will travel to Switzerland and meet with “business executives on varied topics.”

Let me tell you guys a true story and let you ruminate with it for your own inferences. In the mid-1990s, a group of young army officers seized power in a small African country and almost immediately the leader of the group declared himself president. He and his band of soldiers confiscated properties of the members of the old regime and imprisoned most of them in order to clean the country of corruption. At least, that’s what they claimed.

Not long after shooting their way to the control of this impoverished country, a high level Swiss banking official arrived at the capital with documents for opening foreign bank accounts. It did not take long and the new president and the next powerful military officer had fallen out and were embroiled in accusations and counter-accusations of theft and other criminal activities. This close confidant of the new president quickly went into hiding in order to save the skin on his back. The main dispute was over dishonesty in accounting for millions of strange deposits and withdrawals in personal Swiss bank accounts of both the president and his buddy, plus accusations of conspiracy to print counterfeit U.S. dollars, narcotics trafficking, and dubious importation of military helicopters.

Within that short time of coming to power, and with the connivance of high level Swiss bank officials, over $20 million sat strangely frozen in the Swiss bank accounts of those two gun-toting “do-gooders.” In the midst of their spat, the new president had been able to ask the Swiss authorities to block the accounts of his colleague who clearly and legally held power of attorney given to him by the president over the president’s personal foreign bank transactions. With the president’s blessing, his colleague was obviously the appointed courier for secret financial dealings with the Swiss bankers. Somehow, the courier had his hand too often in the cookie jar and was diverting good chunks of the secret deposits into his own accounts; otherwise known in Ghanaian comic lexicon as “thief thieves theifman.” Wonders in Africa will never end.

Of course, Mr. Kufuor did not become president by force. At least, he is not on record for expropriating his opponents’ assets. He was elected. He did not even implement his declaration or whimper of an empty “war on corruption” when he was president. But he became a frequent flier and traveled a lot when he was in office and good many of his trips took him to Switzerland. Since leaving office, he has been there a few more times. Though his regular trips to Switzerland have not provided Ghana with any visible national benefit, he still keeps going to Switzerland.

Not counting whatever other deals he had his hands in when he was in office, he presided over a controversial transfer of a fat slab of Ghana’s oil revenues to two of his friends, called the EO Group. Over time, that deal is worth billions of dollars! For that, I say to my fellow Ghanaians, hmmmm! At least, that’s what is on paper. But do you sometimes wonder if Kufuor is party to that EO deal? I have stopped wondering anymore. Unlike the two soldiers described above, you should not expect any infighting among the known principals of the EO Group and Kufuor. The trio is band of gentleman ……s.

Anyway, is there something in Switzerland that constantly pulls Kufuor to that country? Considering this cold winter season, I don’t believe Kufuor, an African, is going to Switzerland to take a stroll along the River Aare in Bern and absorb its beauty; or at his age, I am sure he is not going there to ski the Alps. I can stake my life on the belief that my “honorable” ex-President has never skied in his life. He says he is going to discuss varied (I call it vague) topics with Swiss business executives. Yeah!

Will he be kind enough, on his return, and let Ghanaians in on the details of what he learned from the Swiss businessmen and how nationally beneficial those discussions will be to Ghana? By the way, if our current government can’t do it, Kufuor seems to have selflessly volunteered, without concern for the effect on his health from the bone-chilling cold, to go on a Swiss business trip in order to improve the lives of poor, helpless, hungry Ghanaians. What a “great” man Kufuor is!!! On a second thought, he does not have to tell us anything if he went to Switzerland for his own “private business.”

We, the darker skinned people of this earth, are a pathetic group of creatures. We were colonized, subjected to unspeakable inhumane experiences, and our forebears fought and died for the little freedoms we enjoy today. They, the lighter skinned people, continue to unfairly take from us and we seem to gladly give our resources to them without a blink, hesitation, or commensurate economic return. Still, when we steal from our kindred and countries, our STUPID alter-egos take over and we surreptitiously hand over the stolen billions to them for “safe keeping,” knowing very well that, after our passing, our offspring and countrymen will never ever get their hands on the loot.

Though this behavior flaw in us is endemic across the continent, citizens of Nigeria and Zaire have notably been the most prominent victims of their late leaders’ deceit and stupidity. We all did read with interest about a decade ago the unsuccessful attempts by those countries to recover stolen billions after the deaths of their crooked presidents.

Will we ever learn?

Good day.