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Opinions of Sunday, 21 January 2007

Columnist: Boafo, Eric

NPP’s Missed Opportunities

As the 2008 elections approaches, the ruling party, I believe, has already begun taking stock of their accomplishments over the past six years. Unlike the first two trials of President Kufour to ascend to the seat, this time his successor would not have the pleasant excuse of his or her party not being in power before. Like Prof John Atta Mills in year 2001, the NPP candidate in 2008 would either have the advantage or disadvantage of incumbency depending on whether it makes or breaks him.

With this background I don’t think it is too early for the NPP to start looking back at what they have been able to achieve and which areas they could have done better. It is undisputable that during the reign of the NPP Ghana’s democracy has been able to rank among the elite in Africa and even in the world mainly due to NPP’s tolerance and promotion of free media and media pluralism. The coming redenomination of the cedi is evident that though the Ghanaian’s pocket book is still near empty and tight, the NPP government has done a good job laying the tar mark for the future economy to take off as new governments come in.

However, it is obvious that like any human institution the NPP could have done better given the political capital it acquired from the people of Ghana. When President Kufour took over, for the first time Ghanaians heeded to the call to tighten their belts. People complained less about enormous increase in fuel and utility prices. I remember students on the campuses blaming SNNIT instead of government when their loans delayed. Six years down the lane, the belts are as tight as ever.

Right at his first inauguration President Kufour declared his “Zero tolerance” for corruption slogan to signal his commitment to fight the menace. Before his ministers could finish wiping the dust off the ministerial seats vacated by the NDC, he sent them a succinct message that he wouldn’t wait till the NDC comes back to power before they start heading to Nsawam. He did this by ‘Fast-Tracking’ Malam Isah to Nsawam before he could loose some more dollars at the Ministry of Sports. In recent times the Presidents inactions on cases involving Hon Amoateng, Dr. Anane, the IGP and the cocaine scandal leaves me and many to question if Mallam Isah was dispensable because he was representing PNC in the ‘all inclusive government’. These are examples of the few occasions the President failed to take the opportunity to put action behind his ‘zero tolerance’ not just for corruption but for ineffective, immoral and corrupt government officials.

In the case of Hon. Amoateng, though the President thought it right to comment on Rojo’s involvement with the Venezuelans’, he has remained mute on the plight of the unrepresented people of Nkoranza East whilst their MP languishes in US jail. Under this unpleasant situation, I expected the President and the NPP party to come out with a strong statement to disassociate themselves from officials who misconduct themselves and to even urge the MP to resign honorably as he waits to defend himself in the US courts. Such a statement would serve not to indict the MP but to condemn the circumstances surrounding him lying to parliament ending up in a drug bust.

Many people have called Dr. Anane the ‘golden boy’ of the NPP because he was tolerated for too long. Even after CHRAJ had taken issue with his misconduct as a minister of state, he still had the privilege of negotiating his resignation. Why did the President have to wait on CHRAJ to spend scarce tax payers money and time to investigate Dr. Anane when it was obvious he exercised poor moral and professional judgment in his engagement with his mistress in the US? If a whole medical doctor and at the same time a minister of no other ministry than the ministry of health would unwisely disregard his ministry’s ABC policy of preventing Aids, then what should be expected of our youth who need to look up to policy makers as role models? This is a pure example of the old cliché that seems to guide our policy makers. “Do what I say but not what I do”. For me, the President should have axed Dr. Anane right when he found out about his engagement with his mistress which was obvious because there was enough circumstantial to prove that Dr. Anane drag his high office into disrepute. By overlooking Dr. Anane’s blatant disregard of his oath of office, the President missed the opportunity to advise his ministers to live up to their oath.

Our recent poor rating on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) is an indication that despite the era of ‘zero tolerance’ the government hasn’t been proactive enough when it comes to fighting corruption both in government and in the Ghanaian society as a whole. The President has on several occasions called on Ghanaians to come out with evidence of corruption against officials for him to act on. But what more evidence do we need to prove that there is massive corruption in the police service? What has the government done about people openly taking bribes at the airport and other points of entries? Even after the former chairman of the NPP, Mr. Esseku, confessed to a journalist that the castle, the seat of government, takes kick backs from contractors, all government did was to deny it and sweep it under the carpet. If the President could not genuinely tolerate corruption, he should have personally summoned Mr. Esseku to pin point those kick back takers at the castle so he could ‘fast track’ them.

It amazes me how the IGP still has his job and ASP Boakye still enjoys a respectable leave of absence from his post after it was evident from the Georgina Woods Commission that the IGP had no control over his subordinate and the ASP acted inappropriately in his suspicious quest to find the missing cocaine. How could it be that the IGP could not be aware of such a big operation? Also how could the ASP undertake such a solo operation without any backing from his employer, the police service? Though the commission failed to ascertain the where about of the missing cocaine, it succeeded in exposing the mess in the police and security services including immigration. How could the Venezuelans come in and out of Ghana without any trace?

Surprisingly, in the age of ‘zero tolerance’ not even a single official has yet lost his or her job over this big mess. It is only in Ghana and Africa that state officials can keep their posts though they keep mismanaging and underperforming. Am not saying the IGP or the ASP know the where about of the cocaine but the point is that after spending tax payers money on this commission, no body was taught a valuable lesson of accountability and responsibility. The government’s white paper was blinded to the fact that the IGP’s is suppose to be responsible for any mess in the police service. The immigration boss who knew about the unofficial entry points at the airport but failed to do anything about it still has his job. Aren’t we rewarding these officials by allowing them to keep their posts? Even in football circles coaches who under perform are constantly fired, but it seems it seems our governments care less when it comes to doing government work

Since 2001 we have been made to believe we are in the golden age dispensation of our developmental process, but if we continue on this path, the Bronze Age will even elude us. Our socio economic develop will continue at this snail pace if we keep rewarding public officials who continue to short change the people they are suppose to serve.

Eric Boafo
(Northern Kentucky University)

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