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Opinions of Thursday, 15 March 2007

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Mpiani And Wereko Brobbey Must Be Tamed Now!

Investigate Them!!

I don’t know Mr Mpiani and have nothing personal against him but his tactics and dictates has a way of riling me. I suspect he must be one of the key insiders to the president. No? Barring the latter, why must Ghanaians suffer his incompetence and arrogance?

Why have we, Ghanaians, been led to believe that incompetence is ok? The president, it seems, is more of a friend to incompetence than he is a foe. He is known to clings on to a gaggle of square pegs who bring nothing but shame to him. In a moment, I will try to walk you through a maze of activities that goes to show that Mpiani and his cohort, Wereko, may not be up to snuff. I am not ready to invoke the financial loss clause yet but I believe they should be seriously investigated.

Not too long ago, Ghana Airways came to a crushing halt. It was indeed badly mismanaged under previous governments. The NPP had the gross misfortune of finishing off Ghana Airways. Wouldn’t it have been nice to see our own airlines hauling people from and to Ghana doing our independence celebration? Well, out of the smoldering ashes of Ghana Airways came another moribund airline organization orchestrated by Mpiani and co. Of course, the president and the NPP stalwarts are all in this game too.

Sadly, Mpiani and his cohorts managed to funnel 20 million dollars of worker pension funds managed by SSNIT into this poorly arranged business endeavor. For how long with the poor Ghanaian worker take such blatant abuse from the arrogant political elite? How this act was accomplished with the NDC and other opposition parties looking on is mind numbing. Who on God’s green earth is looking out for the average Ghanaian? Look at the plight of a retired watchman and tell me if he deserves to have his or her pension used in such a reckless way.

It did not take long for the cracks in that dog and one-borrowed-airline pony show to manifest itself. As we speak, no one knows the fate of the one-rented-airline company called GIA. How the elite on all sides of the aisle tolerate such stink is puzzling. There is no doubt in my mind that that the twenty million dollar investment and more, will, like a puff of powder, dissipate. We’ve all read about the constant meddling in the affairs of this moribund airline by Mr Mpiani while the president and his party faithful watch on nonchalantly. Why this eerie silence, I don’t know! What will it take to sear the president’s conscience even as he jets off to receive a phony doctorate degree? Is the West oblivious to the mismanagement that we endure in Ghana? Why do they continue validating leaders who continue to fail miserably? In whose interest? Don’t we African deserve better or at least the same as these folks in the West who reward mediocrity?

Next on tap for Mpiani is the just eneded Ghana@50 celebrations. For reasons not known to you and I, it certainly cannot be Mpiani’s managerial prowess, the lot fell on Mpiani again to have a go at it. Onward faithful soldiers of Kufour! Maybe the right to organize such functions falls under his do nothing ministry anyway! In his wisdom, Mpiani reaches back to yank radioactive Wereko Brobbey into the fray. As the DJs say, “in the mix”! I mean controversial Wereko of all people? Don’t we have enough bickering, bitching, political grunting and tribalism going on in Ghana at the moment? Whenever there is money to be wasted, these two twins, Brobbey and Mpiana seem to have a knack to show up. Keep in mind that Wereko Brobbey, known popularly as Tarzan, was the same man who almost single-handedly brought VRA to its knees. The waste that he is alleged to have caused still remains uninvestigated. Some continue to wonder why he is still walking free. While the dust is settling on what really transpired at VRA, Wereko has sued the government for more money on top of the waste that he is accused of creating. Does the word responsibility mean anything to the Ghanaian elite?

Wereko’s claim to fame, I am informed, lies in his fierce freedom fight and resistance to Rawlings. He is reported to have marched gallantly in the now famous Kumepreko resistance. I say kudos brother Wereko! May your freedom epaulets shine forever! Now, hear me, does Wereko’s freedom fighting prowess translates into managerial competence? I believe then, as I do now, that, Wereko Brobbey ended end up at VRA as part of Kufour’s effort to share the spoils of political victory. After all, Wereko was one of the mavericks whose shenanigans threatened Kufour’s political future during the elections that brought Kufour to the presidency the first time around. Perhaps Wereko may be one of those UP/PP tradition royalties! He must be pacified and VRA bore the brute brunt. I believe Tarzan’s failure at VRA is a classic case of academic laurels not translating into real life results. Wereko’s bitter lesson must be a clear example to all those who pin academic ornaments but have no real life results to show for it. Yes, VRA needs serious change! However, there is a right and proven way to instigate and animate change and there is the gruff and my way or the highway baloney. Brother Wereko seem to have chosen the latter.

Now, how did Mpiani earn this assignment given his performance on the GIA debacle? We had a golden opportunity to bring the whole country together for the celebration of our independence. Instead, we ended up with a fractured celebration. Let me be very clear! I am not by saying the latter to, glorify the return-to-sender attitude from Rawlings. I really don’t care what Rawlings does or does not do. My focus is on Mpiani and Wereko! Overall though, part of the blame ought to go to parliament. I don’t know how this worked out but why would parliament, in a HPIC country, dole out 20 million dollars to Mpiani and his gang, without asking for detailed plans of what they intend to do with the money? You see how our lack of planning continues to punch us in the stomach? Furthermore, why would parliament not insist on a multi-partisan group in planning and administering the Ghana@50 celebration? It appears as if we may have to seriously consider revising the requirements to get into parliament. The more I look, the more I come off with the feeling that we have more incompetent people in parliament that we care to admit. We are seeing no leadership on both side of the aisle. These people are giving democracy a bad name and we must take steps to remedy the situation or risk going back to the days of chiefs and military rulers. There are too many recycled politicians who continue to under achieve in our parliament.

What really brought parliament’s weakness to the fore was when Mpiani called their bluff by insisting that they leave Wereko alone and deal with him. His reason was simply that, Wereko works for him, Mpiani. If this is not arrogance, I don’t know what is. What made it distasteful for me and I am sure many others, is the fact that, parliament cowered and dithered when Mpiani issued the injunction. Can you believe how cowardly the NDC and the rest of the opposition are behaving? So in the end, Wereko Brobbey was spared any questioning. Now, here is my message to Wereko, if you don’t want to be questioned by the representatives of the people, leave the public treasury alone. Leave public work alone and go run your private business. So long as you touch public funds, you will be held accountable. My point here is that, neither Mpiani nor Wereko Brobbey has the audacity to tell parliament who to talk to or what to do. While I am at it, let me address the NPP parliamentarians. Look, you enjoy what you enjoy because of the democratic political system. If you folks don’t shore up this democracy that we struggle to build, we risk reverting back to the days of guns and whips. You, more than anyone, have the responsibility to hold our public officials to account. It serves no purpose to play pussy with recalcitrant public officials because they belong to your party. Speak up or risk ruining this experiment for us all.

I want to draw particular attention to Mpiani leadership and Wereko’s involvement in the importation of 255 cars into the country for the Ghana@50 orgy. Most of these cars were luxury cars that include BMWs, Mercedes Benz, Jaguars, Peugeots, Chrysler and others. A lot of us believe that this was not only unreasonable but a blatant attempt to scam the public. It makes no sense to import this number of cars for an event that lasted no more than a few days. Of course we’ve all read the protests by the Ghana Car Renting Association. Here you have a government that drivel free market but when given the opportunity to live out is red hot rhetoric, it fails miserably. Some of us believe that a better transportation arrangement could have been done through the various embassies of the invited guest. Some, if not most, of these guests will not drink bottled water from the government of Ghana anyway. Do you think an official from the US or Britain will ride in a car offered by the government of Ghana? For security reasons alone, some invited guest will pass on the offer. I believe one of the ways to deal with the situation was to reimburse the embassies so that they can make their own transportation arrangements. Did Wereko and Mpiani consider this option? If so what response did they get? How many people did really attend anyway? Can parliament get us an accurate count?

Given the corruption that abounds in our country, I have a theory as to why these cars were imported en masse. I believe these cars will be auctioned off to party faithfuls and business cronies after the celebration. Did anyone catch to the story about how the houses that were built on the land of the La people sold (300,000-400,000) like hot cake before the Ghana@50 orgy? I want the NPP to prove me wrong by not selling these cars under the table. However, given the arrogance of the ruling party, I am not counting on it. Now, if the NPP decides to blatantly complete the rape, I ask that they tack on the duties that would have accrued on this car had it been imported by any individual. You see, these kinds of schemes are clever plots by these wicked and insensitive government officials and party faithfuls to buy these luxury cars on the cheap while they continue to saddle the rest of us with high custom duties on imported cars that don’t pass as luxury vehicles. These days, it is not unusual to be quoted anywhere from 60 to 80 million Cedis for trying to bring Mercedes Benz into Ghana. Let all Ghanaians anyone who buys any of these cars pay the duty that would have accrued.

I want to call on the opposition parties, especially the NDC, to be vigilant in investigating the money that was spent by Mpiani and Wereko Brobbey on the Ghana@50 celebration. I know the tactic these days is to force feed some of the opposition party honchos so that they don’t raise hell. Who can forget the confession of Haruna Esseku on how Kufour silenced the NDC by giving them contracts earlier on? Now you notice how the NDC has been totally ineffective in checking the NPP? I don’t want to believe that the whole barrel is contaminated. The opposition and of course the good members within the NPP must haul Mpiani and Wereko Brobbey before parliament. We want to know who got what contract and how the contracts were awarded. We want to know if cronyism, nepotism or tribalism was a factor is awarding these contracts. We want every penny accounted for! Not just the 20 million dollars bonanza but the entire donation that was extorted from donors. Lastly, we need a transparent system when such huge monies are dispensed. I hope some fidgeting journalist will invoke the freedom of information act to unravel what this ravening bunch engaged in.

Lastly, let me say this to the president. It appears that loyalty means more to you than competence. I know that it takes loyalty to survive in politics. However, we the people want competence alongside loyalty. Ghana must be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. This democratic experiment cannot be limited to your personal political survival while we are fed with pre-school level competence. Mr. President, you have time and time again either held on to bad nuts within your party or recycled them. This has in a lot of ways undermined your credibility when it comes to performance and corruption. Clear examples are Anane, Edumadze, Wereko Brobbey, Mpiani, Jake and many more. We will never take you seriously until you pay attention to these underperformers and deal with them. You can’t even ask for the prosecution of Alhaji Bamba who was running a visa racket right next to you in the castle. Until now, no NPP member has been prosecuted for corruption. Yet, we know that corruption is not limited to all other parties but the NPP. How can a minister, Edumadze, pull a rusty gun and engage in carjacking yet remain at post in your government until a general shake up? We need all the dead woods out and those that deserve prosecution dealt with now! You are setting us up for mayhem should your party be voted out of office. We are frankly fed up with the corruption and inaction from your government. NPP was elected to perform and we demand just that. Of course unity will be an icing on the cake if we can get that too!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman
(Also known as the Da Double Edge Word).

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.