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Opinions of Friday, 30 July 2010

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Meow! Was that an NDC or NPP cat?

Once every so often, this graying bloke has overheard someone say of him: “If it were someone else, he would have been all over the place, strutting his stuff and sounding his bugle at a thousand decibels” or “if it were someone else he would have exploited this and that and made a lot of money by now.”

Unfortunately or fortunately for them and for me, I am me. How could I be anyone else except I quaffed some of that mysterious concoction Dr. Jekyll sipped in his laboratory and became Mr. Hyde as well?

Carry my ego around like a badge, Jomo? I am unable to, because of my affliction with this strange condition- a gross deficiency in the gene that fires self publicity.

As for money, the Lord knows I really could do with some. I certainly need some to provide my modest needs and those of my family and possibly fly out every couple of years to the Caribbean where God lives in great splendour. You didn’t know He lives there? He does because of those islands’ pristine location.

There, I could write some poetry good or bad, while watching the sun dance home over those golden beaches we see on television and in travel and tourism brochures.

Money is certainly good, but there is a catch: It stubbornly refuses to grow on trees and many who have pursued it inordinately have come to ruination. To acquire wealth honestly, you need to sweat blood and work your but off to monkey bottom bareness.

Given the vagaries of the global economy these days, working hard is sometimes not enough, ask Kofi Taxpayer. Some people cannot explain the source of their wealth which is probably none of our business, since manna still falls from Heaven by the hour.

On the other hand, where people are entrusted with custody and management of public money, it is only fair, just and necessary that we demand accountability from them, yah?

I rummaged through my junk box the other day, to see if there was anything useful which the postmaster had mistakenly dumped in it and yes indeed there was: an email articulating a very brilliant question very simply stated:

You argued in the Graphic the other time, that social inequalities, poverty, unemployment and deprivation did not constitute enough an excuse for people to grab guns and machetes and go about robbing and killing other people. Unfortunately, admonishing robbers this way is as useful as speaking to a piece of rock. What do you propose we do as a nation then?

Very good question. As a matter of fact, I do have a solution and it is the ultimate one: Let us undertake a radical and truly equitable re-distribution of two things: One: National resources. Two: Opportunities.

I can swear to it, Jomo, apart from the two, there is no other way to ensure social justice. By re-distributing resources, I am referring to the provision of the same opportunities for every child, irrespective of internal geographical location, to pursue the highest level of formal education within his/her ability and equal access by every citizen to opportunities for personal development and living a decent life.

Every year, thousands of qualified young Ghanaians are denied the opportunity to enter university while others fly out to the best universities abroad; entrenching social inequalities in our country and not many appear to think this is a serious issue.

When it comes to re-distributing national resources, there are two tempting but stupid approaches: Confiscate the properties of the wealthy, hound them out of town and redistribute their wealth to “the masses.” The solution offered by the communists of yester year, did not work and never will.

The other approach is what the robbers are doing, namely killing other people and grabbing what they have. In my opinion, Jomo, one of the most effective ways of redistributing national resources is to make those who plunder those resources through graft and corruption to hand back the loot.

This should be done lawfully and in keeping with the dictates of the rule of law and the judicial process. Unfortunately, partisan politics has sometimes been employed to stop the process of accountability. Yet this should be a non-partisan attack on corruption and not people and their political beliefs. Corruption eats up development cash and denies the mass of the people access to the basic necessities of life.

Every successive government since Nkrumah has come up with evidence of corruption in the previous administration and every attempt to sanction former officials who engaged in acts of corruption has been dismissed as a case of persecution of opponents of the incumbent political administration.

Not everyone accused of financial crimes while in office is guilty, but then it takes the courts to arrive at the truth.

Several former officials of the Kufuor administration are bound for court to answer charges that they caused the financial loss of very huge sums of public money.

It is an offense under the law to prejudice criminal trials through subjective commentary in the media but hey, many people are having a field day sitting in radio and television studios and virtually accusing the courts of presiding over criminal trials based on concocted or false evidence.

How else do we interpret their arguments that those being asked to answer charges related to financial crimes are victims of political persecution?

Persecuting and depriving political opponents of their liberty is itself criminal and if it were indeed proven, all and sundry should rise up as one and protest with vehemence and demand state respect for human rights.

Until then, the judiciary should be allowed to hear all the cases of causing financial loss to the state and other alleged financial crimes without interference, is what I say.

Party colours and claims of political persecution are clouding so many other issues, Jomo: The trial of the alleged killers of the late King of Dagbon is in progress. Political activists say it is political persecution.

The workers at the Tema Oil Refinery this week resumed their agitation for the sacking of the Energy Minister Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei all over again.

They claim the energy minister and other officials in charge of the energy sector are working against the interest of the refinery and that some are engaged in underhand dealings. Some people say it is a case of the NDC and NPP jostling for corporate turf!

Power tariffs are set to take another steep hike. In the mean time, the ECG does not appear to a have an efficient power theft monitoring system at all. The company is losing GH¢78 million annually as result of power thefts.

We the loyal tariff payers who pay upfront for power because we use prepaid meters suffer the consequences of poor revenue collection and power thefts: Reduced and erratic power supply. It is very annoying, Jomo. Darned annoying.

http://times.fienipa.com/content/meow-was-ndc-or-npp-cat

George Sydney Abugri is a prolific, multi-award winning, Ghanaian newspaper journalist. Read more of his articles at http://sydneyabugri.com/ or email him at georgeabu@hotmail.com