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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Columnist: Jackson, Margaret

President Mills’ Decisiveness And Honesty At Play

By Margaret Jackson

President Mills will go down in history as the most vilified president ever to walk the face of Ghana, but he will also go down as the only known president who never lost his cool but looked beyond the insults and jeers of the opposition to continue with his “Better Ghana Agenda” that he promised to fulfil to Ghanaians. Sometimes I am tempted to compare President Mills to former US President Bill Clinton, who did so much for the Americans in terms of far-sighted economic strides, yet even today is still maligned by the Republicans or the Grand Old Party (GOP). Can you imagine that last year when it failed to rain on “Good Friday”, New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, went on air and lambasted President Mills for being the cause?

You may not be in the same camp or political party with someone or like his/her guts, but when the person does something good, you have to give him/her the thumbs up. Politics in Ghana seems to have degenerated into so much pettiness that the members of the NPP have vowed never to acknowledge anything good that President Mills has done or continues to do. It’s big pity. And this attitude is being fomented by the NPP leadership who believes that by damning anything that President Mills has done will turn the scales in their favour and return them back to power in 2013.

When the current Woyome saga broke out, the NPP leadership and members went bananas and presented the facts as if President Mills has a hand in the whole issue and that he may even have directed the illegal monies to be paid to businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome. Even former President, John Agyekum Kufour, the man known to have presided over an unprecedented corruption in Ghana’s history during his eight years in office, also suddenly found his voice and behaving as an ethical crusader who holds our dear country at heart, added his voice that the Woyome issue must be investigated as a matter of urgency and the culprits brought to book. But being the honest man as he is, and caring so much for the country, President Mills, directed the country’s Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to investigate the matter to let the whole world know the truth in other to put the matter to rest.

The EOCO headed by Mr. Mortey Akpadzi, went into action to unravel the mystery surrounding the whole Woyome issue. What the EOCO did, which makes sense even to the ordinary man on the street, was to invite all the key players to help the organization to know the truth concerning the whole matter. But the NPP, the so-called pillars of democracy, the self-appointed brains behind the rule of law, the ostensible protectors of our Constitution, and the loud-mouthed champions of the independence of the judiciary who have shouted over the roof-top on this issue since last year, kicked against the investigation being conducted by the EOCO.

In fact the entire leadership of the NPP went on air and lambasted the EOCO as being an inferior organization to do the investigations and urged its members cited in the controversy to refuse to attend any invite by the EOCO. And to add insult to injury, former President Kufour, who before the directive by President Mills to the EOCO to investigate the issue had been jumping from one radio station to another calling for an immediate examination into the matter, suddenly chickened out and also urged the NPP members not to honour any invitation from the EOCO.

This attitude by Kufour and the NPP did not go down well to many Ghanaians including Dr. Tony Aidoo, the Head of Policy Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the Presidency. He kicked Kufour around by describing him as the most lawless, unprincipled and corrupt human being ever to be born on this planet. The Founder and Leader of the United Renaissance Party, Mr. Kofi Wayo, also expressed his utmost displeasure on why the NPP, which wants to rule Ghana and apply the law to the letter, is blatantly flouting the same laws that governs the country with its refusal to allow its members to appear before the EOCO. Kofi Wayo, went on to state that no one in Ghana is above the law, and the NPP is not an exception, and that the NPP is setting a bad example with its refusal to cooperate with the EOCO.

In spite of the refusal of the NPP members, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, former Sports Minister and Dr. Kofi Amoah, a former Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee of the 2008 Nations Cup, to appear before the EOCO, the organization was not perturbed and went into action and finished its work. Last week, the EOCO presented its interim report to President Mills, and the shameless double standards that has been exhibited by the NPP was in full force. Members of the NPP who have condemned the EOCO as a substandard organization to conduct the investigation into the Woyome issue, suddenly pounced on the EOCO report making various quotes from the report on air. In fact they poured on the report citing areas that seem favourable to the NPP. I was totally flabbergasted and wondered if members of the NPP are indeed serious minded people that Ghanaians ever have to engage to govern the country. In one instant the EOCO is a mediocre organization, and in another moment its report is good to be quoted by the NPP. Heaven help Ghanaians if we ever make the terrible mistake of bringing this looting brigade back to power.

The 16-page EOCO report indicted Woyome of making false representation by stating that he had a contract with the government of Ghana regarding the construction of sports stadia for CAN 2008 but that the contract had been abrogated unlawfully. Woyome is alleged to have subsequently filed a writ at the High Court, claiming he was owed GH¢41 million and interest of GH¢10.2 million, bringing the total amount owed him to GH¢51.2 million. According to the EOCO report, this led to the unlawful payments of GH¢17.9 million on February 2010, GH¢10 million on January 27, 2011, GH¢10 million on April 18, 2011 and GH¢14.1 million on September 12, 2011 to Woyome.

The report also gave details of the roles played by Mr. Osafo-Maafo, Mr. Joe Ghartey, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Dr. Kofi Amoah, Mr. Osei Bonsu Amoah and Mr. Rex Danquah, who were ministers and officials in the Kufour’s administration. The rest were, Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu, former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Paul Asimenu, Director, Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh, Chief State Attorney in Charge of the case at the Attorney Generals Department, whose wife according to the report was paid 400,000 Ghana Cedis on June 16, 2011 by Woyome.

As decisive as he is, President Mills after receiving the report went into full gear and ordered the arrest of Woyome and any other persons implicated in the matter. He did that to serve notice that he is there to jealously guard the coffers of the country. But when the NPP gang saw the fire burning closer to their corridors, they again went into full gear claiming the innocence of their members indicted in the report. The most disgraceful and uncouth person ever to become a general secretary of a major political party in the country, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, came out swinging. Please hear Afriyie in his own words in an interview with Joy News, “Well we don’t expect anybody to run away if there is complicity in this matter, but the truth is that they cannot pretend to be roping in members of the New Patriotic Party in order to help them clean the image
of Mills.” Whose image is Afriyie talking about? Is Mills the one who received that unlawful judgment payment or was he the one who ordered the payment to be made?


Please hear Afriyie ramble on, “We are not afraid; we have nothing to hide whatsoever. The truth is that if you look at EOCO’s report which was presented yesterday (Thursday), it doesn’t make sense, it does not add up. For instance where it says that Woyome had no contract with the people of this country, it presupposes that during the NPP time he was not given any contract whatsoever. The Attorney General knows about that, Betty Mould knows about that and EOCO has come to also re-echo the same position and therefore to go and arrest Yaw Osafo-Maafo and others because they were then in the previous administration during whose term all these things surfaced, Osafo-Maafo wouldn’t have done anything wrong because EOCO itself says that Woyome had no contract so on what basis are you going to arrest Osafo-Maafo?”

And not to be undone is this open shameful attitude, the NPP Chairman, Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, issued a statement rejecting the interim report by EOCO saying, the investigation was only meant to be “simply a smoke screen, charade, and a calculated attempt to cover up the involvement of the President, some of his ministers and other government officials in this sordid affair.” Oh please, get real Jake. Nothing you say can soil President Mills. At least unlike you Ghanaians know President Mills as not a thief.

The only person who stands out from the NPP pack is MP for Assin North, Kennedy Agyapong, who has stated categorically that the Woyome issue should not be politicized. Mr Agyapong who said Ghana comes first in everything, noted that he would not care if anybody from the NPP is arrested and detained in connection with the scandal, further explaining that he would not be bothered by what people from his party would say about him. This is what we call patriotism. Ghana comes first! Period! The NPP gang should go and look for a dictionary and find the meaning of the word Patriot, otherwise no one would take them serious in the Ghanaian political landscape. They claim to be Patriots, but I guess what they mean is Patriots In Lining Their Pockets.

My simple question is, why is Jake and Afriyie fretting and shaking in their panties? Why are they rambling nonsense and not making sense? Why are they trying to put the cart before the horse? I mean why is it that these so-called members of the rule of law gang do not want to allow the laws of the land to take its rightful course. Why is the NPP all over the place saying it is good to arrest some of the indicted people in the Woyome case but equally nonsense to arrest the indicted NPP members? Are they eating their cake and at the same time trying to have it? Are they attempting to have it both ways? When the report was presented last week to President Mills, the NPP crew were all for it. Now when they realized the imminent arrest of some of their members, suddenly they are all against it. Ghanaians are watching you, NPP!

This singular act by President Mills has proven to Ghanaians about his honesty and decisiveness. For Mills to kick out his Attorney General and also gotten rid of his Education Minister all in the supreme interest of the country speak volumes. This is something that Kufour never did in his entire eight years in office. Do you remember Kufour who under pressure to investigate corrupt officials in his government bluntly stated that corruption has been with man since Adam; therefore, suggesting that corruption in his government was no big deal? During Kufour’s eight years in office, not a single week passed without Ghanaians hearing about corrupt practices in his administration. Yet, Kufour adopted a “see no evil, hear no evil” attitude, and therefore allowed corruption to fester in every facet of his administration. This is a man who told Ghanaians in the face that he came to politics to make money but not to sacrifice or serve.

Ghanaians have not forgotten Kufour’s adopted famous mantra, “If you have evidence about corruption in my administration, just go to the police with the evidence.” Even when some New Patriotic Party (NPP) gurus including NPP’s former National Chairman, Haruna Esseku, came out to accuse Kufour of accepting kickbacks at the seat of government, Osu Castle, these accusations did not shake the former president one bit. Kufour simply followed the money trail wherever he smelled it.

Dr. Richard Anane, former Transport Minister in the Kufour’s administration, was accused of corruption stemming from the transfer of huge sums of money to his American mistress, Alexanderia O'Brien, with whom he had a child during his days at the Health Ministry. As a Health Minister attending an AIDS conference at the time in the United States, Anane had an unprotected sex with O'Brien and the result was the illegitimate child with the lady. Anane supposedly stepped aside from the Transport Ministry to defend himself in the case brought against him by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). But it is on record that his supposed stepping aside was a ploy by Kufour and Anane to deceive Ghanaians. The fact is whilst Anane had told the whole world that he had stepped aside, he was indeed running the Transport Ministry from the confines of his home. And he did that until he “won” the case, got re-nominated by Kufour and returned to the ministry. Wonders, they say shall never end.

Every stewardship demands accountability, therefore, we should be conscious about the kind of world our children will inherit from us because every good person leaves a good legacy. If you steal from the country and leaves the money behind for your children, do not think you are doing them any good. In fact by being a thief, you make your children an extension of your diabolical act if you leave some of the money for them to enjoy.

If there are any fruitful lessons for Kufour and the NPP to learn from the character trait of President Mills, it is now. This man has nothing to hide, therefore, he walks with his head higher up. Can Kufour do the same? I bet never. I believe President Mills will make every effort to help the country to recover all the monies paid to Woyome. This is what we call leadership. I can qualify it as decisive leadership and honesty at its best. This is what the country needs. We do not need people to come on board and rape the country and pretend as if it is okay to do that.

In spite of soiling his reputation and character with corrupt activities whilst in office, Kufour and his cronies are walking free on the streets of Ghana today. And to add insult to injury, Kufour with all the swagger he commands, continues to claim that if he or any of his appointees are corrupt, how come none of them is languishing in jail since he left office. My simple reply is: “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children but a sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22). Kufour should never ever think that if he indeed used his God-given brains to defraud Ghana whilst in office he will ever go scot-free. If Ghana is unable to make him account for his stewardship, God will. Kufour will one day be made to account for his misdeeds before the judgment throne of God. Mr. John Agyekum Kufour should therefore ponder over this whenever he lays his head on a pillow.

magjackson80@yahoo.com