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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Mubarak: Guilty as Charged!

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

As is usual with most government reports pertaining to ministerial misconduct, I did not half-expect the latest report on Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak to be trenchant or unduly damning, for the simple reason that the referendum, as it were, was as much about the gubernatorial competence, or the lack thereof, of the Atta-Mills administration as it was about the primary subject of investigation.

Consequently, I was not the least bit fooled by the theatrically garish involvement of the National Security Council (NSC) in the investigation. The latter factor only whipped matters up to a frenzy; but, ironically, of course, the import here was for the government to unctuously pretend to be taking the proverbial high moral ground. In the end, however, President Atta-Mills, like his New Patriotic Party (NPP) predecessor, had to do what may be aptly termed as “AN ANANE.”

And precisely what is “AN ANANE”? The keen reader is logically prompted to ask. Well, “AN ANANE” is said to have occurred when an alleged crime so drips with limpid culpability that only one and one verdict alone could be reached, if down-home justice were to be made to prevail. And need we get painstakingly plain about the fact that the Mubarak Affair was never about the search for truth, honesty, probity and accountability, as the unsuspecting citizen might be tempted to expect, but unmistakably about damage control.

Thus having evidently had one of his star ministerial pupils disappoint him big-time, it appears as if the former Legon tax-law wonk is more interested in evening out the scores on gross and egregious managerial incompetence than setting a firm benchmark for probity and accountability in his administration. Which is why the logical thing for President John Evans Atta-Mills to do was to order a thorough auditing of the account books of the Ministry of Sports, beginning with the very first day that his immediate predecessor assumed the gubernatorial reins. And you can mark it on the wall that the Dzelukope National Congress of Mafia Toughies is likely to snag a whale soon.

In short, were the Atta-Mills administration seriously interested in reviewing the entire institutional structure, or apparatus, of the Ministry of Sports, the president would have ordered that the terms of reference of such investigation commence with that bloody day when the viral father of all revolutions convulsed the Ghanaian political landscape. But that, of course, would be too dangerous a foray; it would virtually be tantamount to dynastic high treason.

Anyway, like a septuagenarian professorial colleague that I used to know, temporal strictures invariably demand that I read the Byzantine summaries of such reports from the bottom up; this is where the most unpalatable details, to speak less of the downright lurid, are often stashed, for nearly three-quarters of curious readers are apt to read a mere third to a maxim of one-half of such reports. To begin with, they tend to be unpardonably boring.

You guessed it! Conveniently buried at the very bottom of the version of the report expressly meant for media and public consumption was the following sentence: “The President has also accepted the Minister’s offer to make good to the State all liabilities incurred on account of Ms. Zinayela’s trip to Germany[,] including the cost of the visa fee” (MyJoyOnline.com 6/25/09).

For those of our readers who may either not know or may have altogether forgotten the identity and association of Ms. Edith Zinayela, she is the secretary to Mr. Alban S. K. Bagbin, Ghana’s parliamentary majority leader and the man who appears to have qualified for more “auto-loans” than anyone else. Ms. Zinayela, in the wake of the eruption of the Mubarak Affair, was rumored to be involved in a romantic liaison with the now-former Sports Minister, who promptly and vehemently denied the same. The connection, it may be recalled, was made after it came to light that Ms. Zinayela had accompanied Mr. Mubarak on at least two “sporting trips,” namely, “La” Côte d’Ivoire and Deutschland at public expense.

The logical question now is this: Why would Mr. Mubarak, a husband and father, “voluntarily” offer to reimburse the Republic of Ghana for expenditures incurred on behalf of Ms. Zinayela who, by the way, is only supposed to be the secretary of the parliamentary majority leader? It goes without saying that one ought not to be a genius sleuth or forensic expert to conclude that President Atta-Mills’ rather snappy decision to accepting Mr. Mubarak’s resignation may well have been based on the former minister’s patently “un-ministerial” conduct of forcing the proverbial Ghanaian taxpayer to support his extra-marital gallivant.

It is also rather disturbing that other than the two murky instances of the Twenty-Thousand-Dollar-Question, Mr. Mubarak’s most tangible answers regarding his apparently willful bilking of the State, even while also paradoxically pretending to be out on a Jihad against fiscal irresponsibility, is to either plead “legal ignorance” or create convenient scapegoats out of his minions – such as his official chauffeur – for the purpose.

*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 the author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Atumpan Publications/Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: okoampahoofe@aol.com. ###