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Opinions of Friday, 16 March 2012

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

Of Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Clandestinely Negotiated Debt Settlements ....

and the Conscience of the President!

“Betty Mould-Iddrisu again? She must have a hold of some sort over your President! Your government is a joke!” These were the sentiments of Denis O’Shea, my Irish client who has followed the controversial payments to Woyome and the other payment to CP also sanctioned by Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu and boy, wasn’t I embarrassed! Even him as an outsider felt exasperated and stupefied by the former Attorney General and Education Minister’s crass inefficiency and blatant disregard or lack of professionalism. To him, the last straw was the press statement issued in defence of the former Attorney General and Education Minister by her solicitors in respect of £94 million payment to Construction Pioneers. I am an avouch defender of my country and I refuse to wash its dirty linen in public especially when I have to deal with non-Ghanaians. I must admit though that my client’s comment took me unawares and I inadvertently ended up discussing with him the ripples Betty Mould-Iddrisu have caused by authorising payments for the spuriously “negotiated” settlements to Alfred Agbesi Woyome and Construction Pioneers.

With my client’s indictment on my country loudly ringing in my ears, I felt so humiliated and insulted even to the point of being angry when we parted company on Saturday, 10.03.12. His damning words kept reverberating in my ears and the indictment he passed on Ghana and the NDC government really cut me to the marrow. But come to think of it, wasn’t he right with his sharp verdict? As I kept thinking about it, the verisimilitude of my client’s statement became poignantly clear after a thorough mental scrutiny and brainstorming. Betty Mould-Iddrisu surely have admirer in the likes of Imelda Marcos on how to dissipate state resources. The haste and avidity of the former Attorney General and Minister of Education in these clandestinely “negotiated” debts is legendary. Betty Mould-Iddrisu undoubtedly had interest in these monies and her solicitors can threat, fret and cry until the cows come home but no one is going to be cowed into silence. How could she have “negotiated” with Alfred Agbesi Woyome; a man who admits to having no contract with the government of Ghana? How could any lawyer worth his or her sort and state’s Attorney at that be that careless to sanction payment of such huge amount $54 million to an individual without butting an eye if it weren’t for greed? Yet she has the effrontery to tell Ghanaians that she “…acted professionally”! Good heavens!! Whatever happened to due diligence? How could a Ghanaian woman be this avaricious?

It beggars belief that this was the same woman the Rawlingses are alleged to have initially wished to have as the running mate to then candidate Mills. This woman would have “negotiated” to give our country away to any fool who came to claim it or even the devil himself with no questions asked considering her selfish acquiescence to the “gargantuan” “settlement” to Woyome. Though Alfred Woyome’s claim was fraudulent, methinks Betty Mould-Iddrisu betters him in that department. Betty is a fraud and if she wants us to believe that she was sincere in these “negotiations”, then she has to accept that she was the dumbest Attorney General in Ghana history if not the entire West African sub-region! Her initial defence that she only authorised $17 million to Woyome during her tenure as the Attorney General is absolute balderdash and bunkum! Was she not the one who “negotiated” the 3 instalments in the first place? Gosh! The woman has no shame. For her to look Ghanaians in the eyes and tell us that she “did nothing wrong” should tell readers that she made a conscious decision to cause the state to lose that amount of money for reasons only God will know. She obviously takes us for a bunch of wimps and seems to expect us to say a big thank you to her for conniving with Woyome to dupe the state. But why wouldn’t she do that to us? The President has made her untouchable as he’s rather going after people who neither signed any contract with Woyome nor authorised any payments to him. Martin Amidu, the immediate past Attorney General called Woyome’s payment a “gargantuan fraud” and he was fired and Ebo Barton Oduro, the Deputy Attorney General who claims the state “has no defence” in the case is still at post. How could the likes of Barton Oduro defend the state in the same saga when they don’t believe that we have a defence in the first place? Now that Waterville has denounced Woyome, Ghanaians would want to know the grounds on which Betty based her silly payments. Whether by design or mere coincidence, Barton Oduro and Betty Mould Iddrisu are both Fantis just like the President. Could this be the manifestation of “Adze wo fie a oye” message that the then Candidate Mills campaigned on in the Central Region? Here’s to you Denis, you were damn right after all; Betty Mould-Iddrisu “must have a hold of some sort over” my President! No wonder she keeps strutting her stuff like a peacock whilst others who had no role in the clandestine “negotiations” and are non-signatories to the payments are given unwelcomed invitations for soirees with the CID.

Just when we thought we were getting used to the Woyome saga; then came the double whammy! The payment of some £94 million to Construction Pioneers which also emanated from the desk of the infamous former Attorney General and Education Minister is just shocking. What at all is wrong with this woman? How on earth could she contrive to do that to Ghana? When did she become an expert in negotiating debt settlements? Construction Pioneers owes Ghana so much in unpaid taxes (some 284 million Deutsche Marks and $52 million) that even if they were due any settlements, anybody with their head properly screwed on would have made sure that whatever the former owed the state was deducted from their entitlements at source; yet our former Attorney General cum Ghana’s Chief Debt Negotiator did nothing and again sheepishly authorised payments with no hint of regret! As expected, her solicitors; Dadzie and Associates had this to say: “Our client also denies allegation that she ordered a remission of taxes due the state from C.P.” The statement further went on to say that; “Our client states that she was unaware of any tax due from CP and in any case under the Financial Administration Act; Act 65(16(13) she was not the paying officer……The former Attorney General states that at all material times she acted professionally to protect the image of Ghana internationally and in the best interest of the state. She believes that her true role in these matters will be established in the fullness of time.” The cheek of it!! Granted that Betty did not know of the taxes CP owed but did she ask anybody at all in the past administration before her “negotiations” with CP? Why did she do all these “negotiations” by herself? And by the way, where in law does ignorance become a defence? Rather than protecting “…the image of Ghana internationally” as she wants us to believe, she’s rather ended up making us the laughing stock for having an Attorney General who’s itchy fingers would sign on any document that had money written on it. Let it be known today that Betty benefitted from all these so-called “negotiated” settlements. I challenge the police to arrest Betty and check the ins and outs of her accounts and tell Ghanaians if she has not had dubious monies going in and out of her accounts.

The former Attorney General, for Education Minister and Ghana’s Chief Debt Negotiator has become an indictment on the President conscience. She’s also become an indictment on the President’s public image and the latter’s hotchpotch handling of the whole saga, especially going after people who had nothing to do with the payment of these monies affirms that. From Woyome to Construction Pioneers, the President’s image is badly soiled and the acid tongues of the Anyidohos, Ablakwas, Pratts et al cannot cleanse it. Prof Mills’ image is sinking with the record breaking speed of Usain Bolt. Isn’t it interesting though that the President claims he wants to get the money from Woyome but sacks Martin Amidu, the one who discovered the perpetration of a “gargantuan fraud” and retains Ebo Barton Oduro; the Deputy Attorney General who has consistently bastardised the state’s defence of same? The payment of these huge sums of monies to individuals and corporate entities with no locus was a deliberate, calculated and vicious rape of the country’s finances. The President has spurned the opportunity to cleanse his administration and has also failed woefully to absolve himself of blame. He stands indicted in the sight of God and man. Ghanaians have the opportunity to take the bull by the horn and cleanse our land of President Mills and his corruption infested administration in December 2012. Yes we will!!! We have been conned and the lifting of the veil has exposed President Mills as a fake and a hypocrite. Yes, this “government is a joke”. Our country deserves better than this. “My brothers and sisters”, I rest my case!

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei