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Opinions of Thursday, 15 October 2009

Columnist: Yeboah, Ohene K.

A Lesson For Ghana In The Investigation Of Dr. Yankey & Co

The Trial Of Gordon Nuttal – A Lesson For Ghana In The Investigation Of Dr. Yankey & Co

Gordon Nuttal was a state Labour Minister for Queensland in Australia. He was found guilty of corruption in July this year, and was given a seven-year jail sentence. Mr Nuttal was elected to State parliament on September, 1992. Before then, he was an organiser for the Electrical Trades Union. He served as Parliamentary Secretary, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries and Minister for Health. In 2006, a Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) began an investigation into a series of “suspicious loans” Mr. Nuttal had received from a mining magnate. He was consequently charged for corruptly receiving cash payments. He was also charged of official corruption in connection with an alleged secret cash payment from a businessman over government project, which never went for tender.

Mr Nuttal stood down as a minister while he was being investigated. At the time he claimed he was innocent of the charges, and was determined to fight to clear his name in court. Well, he had his days in court and the rest is history. He is now serving time in jail. The Queensland government has begun proceeds-of-crime action to seize the ex-minister’s assets. The government is seeking to recover $595,980.00 from him. Dr. George Sipa-Adjah Yankey, one of the people alleged to have received money from Mabey and Johnson, announced that he was resigning from his post as Minister of Health to save the government from further attacks. Dr. Yankey said: “I have not taken bribe”. I was hoping that he would say “I have never taken MONEY from any company”. As it turned out, he has actually taken a lot of money, and most likely, from a lot of people. In a recent press release, Dr Yankey admitted that he took money from the company but it was not a bribe.

This man should really stop insulting the intelligence of the people in this country. Every aspect of his defence under rates the intelligence of the audience. His presentations so far have been quite shameful for his professional training and educational background. I don’t think many people would expect a lawyer of his educational background to present such defence. As guilty as he may be by the act, I will expect him to come out with a defence with substance that befits his training and educational standing. A defence that is worthy of the time spent writing and spent reading by anyone. Why on earth would a British company go to court and declare as bribe an expense it had genuinely incurred. Wouldn’t it have been easier for the company to account for the money as a fee in their accounting system instead of declaring it as unlawful payments or bribes? Does anybody think that it was easy in the part of the company directors to go to court and admit bribery scandal?

God ways are really not our ways! Suppose NPP was in power, only God knows the kind of defence we would be reading in the media. Then again, who knows why this scandal never surfaced during the entire eight years of Kuffour rule, or why it did surface in the U.K. but not in Ghana. Really, God works in mysterious ways.

Dr. Yankey said he has initiated a number of malaria programs and was hoping that these programs continue. Does this man really have any good intention for Ghana? Does he really know how much harm he had done to the people of Ghana? Does he know how many people might have died directly or indirectly from the actions? I don’t think Dr. Yankey should worry about whether or not his malaria programs continue. His bribery scandals have probably killed more people than malaria.

Dr. Yankey should also know that he does not have to insult the people of Ghana at his departure. After taking as much money as he could, he is saying that “Being a Minister meant nothing to him”. Now, he wants to appoint his replacement. A disgraced corrupt minister who in many civilised society, would mostly likely end up in jail, has the audacity to appoint his replacement! Only in Ghana!! He is also bold enough to admit that “he lives in his own house”. Well, at least that gives the government a clue of where some of the money went. Dr. Yankey is also saying that “he has not even taken salary”, I presume he meant since becoming the health minister. The reason, because his son doctor in the United States gives him ten dollars every month. What a joke. We heard the similar defence when Dr. Anane was accused of squandering thousands of dollars. If Dr Yankey has not leant anything at all in public life, at least he should understand that ministerial appointment is an honour. It is an honour to serve one’s country. It is not a right he earned, unless may be he bought the position.

Now an assignment for you the reader; Ghanaians living abroad are disqualified from holding major positions in our political systems by virtue of holding dual citizenships. Those living home argue that, by holding dual citizenship, these Ghanaians shall not be patriotic enough to Ghana. Now I want you to examine the two groups of Ghanaians and convince yourself who among them is more patriotic; Ghanaians who stay back only to collaborate with foreigners to dupe the country and then repatriate their shares of the booty out of the country and into overseas economies. And Ghanaians who take up dual citizenships to enable them to get established in their respective adopted countries, so that they can work their guts out to earn incomes. These Ghanaians continuously remit money to Ghana to sustain their relatives and to undertake development projects. Many of these projects eventually benefit both relatives and non-relatives. Remittance from overseas residence to Ghana is officially considered as a major source of foreign exchange earner for the country.

Ohene K. Yeboah Qld. Australia