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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Columnist: Kobby Gomez

No place for demagoguery in the collapsed banks’ saga

Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Ernest Kwamina Yedu Addison with President Akufo-Addo Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Ernest Kwamina Yedu Addison with President Akufo-Addo

Spare the public the blasphemy of assumptions, Manasseh. Your empty tirade laden with pontification that means very little and hardly touches the grain of the matter at issue is sickening.

You assume that the public was condemning Mensa Otabil for no wrongdoing? Or that he was on the crucible despite his innocence? You claim that because he built an empire never imagined in human history, we can allow him to graze on public cash?

What you failed to mention was the scam that Otabil and his ilk have pulled on the emotionally vulnerable and many with ill-acquired wealth, who naively assume that to save their conscience and poor souls, some of their ill-gotten booty must be thrown at orchestrators of the biggest scams of modern society.

Who actually owns Central University? Is it ICGC? Or Mensa Otabil? Who are owners of the church? Is it the congregation or Otabil and the few who signed the registration documents? Are the church members shareholders of the church? How was the decision to invest some of their money in the defunct bank reached? Was it a decision that only required the central body of the church or were all shareholders allowed a say on the matter?

Again, you who know it all, was Mensa Otabil a shareholder of the defunct bank? Was ICGC a shareholder too? Was your idol a mere non-executive chairman who saw and heard nothing?
Truth telling is so central to journalism; without it, the trade loses its very essence.
Did he just wake up to a nightmare of the Central Bank withdrawing Capital Bank's license to mess his day up or there were consistent discussions that led to stimulus packages that was all misapplied by these seemingly greedy individuals?

In that epistle of dirt, crafted in the cloak of defense and obscene public relations that must be consigned to the dustbin, Manasseh invites us to accept the mindset that religious leaders, whether black or white, in Asia or the Middle East, are immune from accountability, even when their actions have led to widespread and negative effects on both individuals and the general public.
I pride myself as more Catholic than Palmer-Buckle. But if it turned out that he was stealing money or laying into small boys and it became public, I would go to town.
Andrew Campbell blessed my marriage but if he dares steals money from the Christ the King congregation, as I wrote to criticise Otabil when the story first broke, I will do same without recourse to his over forty years stint with this country's faith and his steadfast devotion to the cause of his lepers. When at naming ceremonies of old water and hard liquor were used, the essence remains what it ought to be. I can’t speak for honey, salt, olive oil and all the modern gibberish.

The training you received from that school I now share with you as alumni requires critical reviews of any subject matter before putting one’s pen to paper. Or as the case often is these days, putting your fingers to your keypad or keyboard, whichever serves your purpose.

That Otabil has built a church, university, collapsed banks and other shady deals that are yet to show in the public sphere, and in your analysis, should spare him of opprobrium is to say the very least infantile and frowns on all old sayings demanding equality before the law.

You are known to have pursued some individuals to a level where you insisted on their prosecution for perceived wrongdoing. You defamed some through writings and broadcasts but take issue with the public for criticising a man who probably masterminded a scam? Should one assume that if your friend or church leaders kill, you would either look the other way or write in their defense?
When Pope Francis failed to issue an instant apology during his last visit to Chile, over allegations of sexual abuse by priests and bishops, something thought to be completely against the grain of his papacy, many gazes - including mine -were lowered in disgrace.
If you want to use personal achievements or group wealth as the basis to shield any individual or group from criticism, then where will Otabil and all other religious scammers be? What didn't the Catholic Church do around the world?

But Angel Otabil and his ilk can boast of 1 million dollar donations because the Church was not infallible, neither were its leaders. Truth is, they are not angelic institutions. They are run by mere mortals most of whom are engaged in this scam to butter not just their bread but also to fuel their vulgar opulence as their congregation wallow in abject poverty.

Before you scribbled that dirty response, you should have listened to your hero's understanding of what banking is. These guys have pulled their scams on innocently gullible individuals, who have been conditioned to think their destinies lie with other people. You are your destiny Manasseh, you can continue listening to their so-called motivational speeches, but if you fail to apply the knowledge and analytical skills Professor Audrey Gadzekpo and her colleagues at the now department of Communication Studies of the University of Ghana imparted, their time would be wasted.

If you fail to give meaning to the Monday morning pressure with newspapers and the seminars where you can easily be torn apart, the University must actually withdraw your certificate.

It is unfortunate that your horizon is that limited and chose to make this about Otabil's person as though he sold pure water or “Kofi Brokeman” to arrive at his wealth. In fact, he won't reject coins from head potters who migrate with ruminants down south from the poverty-stricken communities up north. He takes from everyone.

Real business owners have to squeeze water out of stone, sometimes undercutting taxes just so they can declare profits. What's your motivational speaker of a friend's input into this success story that you flaunt in your write up? That he told stories to the same people today demanding that he comes clean on how he oversaw a bank’s collapse?

Managing a one man church with a domineering figure is nothing close to running a business. That is why the successful accounts that you gracefully present wobbles on the altar of sound business practices. It fails to stand on all four when the Capital Bank saga rears its ugly head. Yes, Otabil has been a successful preacher man but he also collapsed a bank. He can be both and he actually bears both crowns.

For any critical reader, you are fixated on the nightmare of modern day religion.
Religion that is founded on the congregation making the preachermen's lives comfortable as their own circumstances deteriorate rapidly. Throughout the Bible, there's only one account where Christ could be seen to have placed himself above others.

"Leave her alone, why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me," he said in response to claims that the jar of perfume could cater for five years wages.

However, your hero and his contemporaries, actually live the opposite of Jesus' account.
They'd rather the congregation emptied their bank accounts and sowed seeds in their stomachs. Where does Otabil live? Can you walk into his home as a man of God without an appointment?

Ask any member of Andrew Campbell's congregation. He actually insists that regardless of the time of day if someone's health is failing, knock on his door. These gods of men have worked their way into the subconscious of the uncritical masses. You have become a victim so much so that the yardstick you used to measure other men can't be applied in their case, Manasseh.

“If you have my photograph on your wall, then I guess I’m handsome enough to be on your wall,” he told his congregation. “But if you need help in the night, call Jesus, not me, because even if you have my number, I might be sleeping and would not hear you.”
The foregoing, which I lift from your write up, must tell the motivations of the preachers. Otabil and his cohorts are businessmen. They sell the word of God to live a luxury. They hoodwink the people and in the privacy of their gatherings tease people like you for being so gullible and failing to apply your thinking cap.
Pastor Mensa Otabil has no disdain for mediocrity, as you sought to claim. From your reading of happenings leading to the collapse of his bank that he now refuses to own, was there anything more palpable than mediocrity? What do you know about the Bank? Have you spoken to people who saw the savings and loans company that metamorphosed into a universal bank? Did you bother to check their modus operandi in relation to say, the Nigerian banks? Maybe you should spare the public your utter lack of understanding of the sector and penchant for weighing in on every subject without the adequate background.

Bury your view of Otabil's awesomeness and go beyond that iron curtain. You may be shocked by how your meagre offering is applied. Stop destroying our eardrums with Otabil's groundbreaking achievements that are actually the creation of the poor and vulnerable, from whom he scrapes till a holes appear on their skins.

I shudder at your claim that Otabil had the guts to question the status quo, which you described as an unwritten offence in Ghana ranked higher than high treason. What Ghana do you refer to? When did questioning the status quo become equal to treason?

It's a fact that some individuals were incarcerated for their words - some written others spoken. But is Mensa-Otabil's name on that list? When was he punished for questioning the status quo? Some elucidation may suffice.

The pity party is unwarranted. Like your darling mentor, you chose a cause that's open to public scrutiny and want to hide from criticism. No one forces anyone into a career; else they make miserable professionals in them. When you have packaged your works to the same GJA you vehemently chastised for awards, they consider them and reward you when appropriate and fitting.
What is actually obvious from your write up is fear of public reaction to the public relations script you churned out in Otabil’s defense. You chickened at first because you couldn't wash Otabil clean. He's been bloodstained in this banking saga and needs a detergent you can't afford to buy. You simply can't wash him clean. You don't have it.
You assume that everyone piled on Otabil because he epitomises excellence! Not at all, I criticised the chairman of the defunct Capital Bank board because he told an obvious untruth. He suggested in his sermon after the final nail to the coffin that the whole process was a sudden event, and I'm sure you believed him. A financial institution goes down and he hides behind the pulpit to claim highhandedness on the part of the regulators. In fact, if the regulators weren't sleeping on their juicy jobs with fat paychecks and spending all supervisory time at the Nigerian banks to enforce some regulations and also peddle influence, we won't be here.

But all is not lost. The state through regulators and law enforcement institutions must apply the law. Depositors’ funds and stimuli from government through the Bank of Ghana can't be applied on vulgar lifestyles. If that has happened, who am I or anyone for that matter, to stand in the way of justice?
Fortunately, we have a 'law lord' as president. It would add to his credentials if these reckless individuals in their management of financial institutions paid the full price, not half or worse still, left off the hook because of relations and familial or other connections.

If you swallowed for two seconds and scanned through social media at the outset of reports of takeover, many actually empathised. Others blamed the Central Bank for failing to let local banks flourish despite their hazardous business practices and that's what motivated Mensa-Otabil to mount a moral ground and peddle falsehoods from his celestial perch.
Your dishonesty clouded your judgement. Two banks failed first and many questions were lingering but when Otabil claimed innocence, he set eyes prying to strip the occurrence to its barebones. A lot more is clear now; whether through leaked reports or officially filed reports. A man who attained fame by brandishing leaked documents now seeks to fault how reports of Capital Bank and others found their way into the public square.

Mensa Otabil has thousands of people who encounter him directly every Sunday hoping that all he tells them is true. So when he mounted the podium that fateful day to declare innocence in the affairs that led to the Bank's drowning, he opened himself up to further scrutiny. How hard is that to understand? I haven't heard anyone suggest that some board members be spared due to their influence in other aspects of national life.

You, who seek to portray your hero as infallible are questioning why individuals who may have been affected by the utter lack of banking acumen, are up in arms at this critical juncture when their livelihoods have been wiped out.

Within the space of a year, your god-dad has moved from a sudden stroke of pen decimating his empire to being a non-executive board chair.

Do yourself a favour: look for a copy of the Companies’ Code and familiarse yourself with what boards do. Look for the roles of chairmen and secretaries and what they are expected to do.

You further expose yourself by calling on the public to attack others for crimes you expect your idol to be shielded from, despite its ramifications to the state and many. The double standards in your approach to national discourse is nauseating.

Your attempt to praise yourself in the Zoomlion exposè will not warrant a response because your sense of even recent history is jaundiced by self-righteousness and a feel-good mentality. Something learnt at Springboard, probably?

Your claims to wisdom and references to great thinkers failed to point to you that sometimes it is better not to be heard on a matter that you are so engrossed in that any word on it could be misconstrued. That you may not serve the individual involved well because you could come across as pouring sand into his gari.

The next time you take a bait to be heard on a matter of such significance, you must be educated enough to know what to do.