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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Columnist: Ampofo Ofori

Professor Wayo Seini?s Car Loan Controvercy

CAN WE EVER KNOW THE TRUTH?

Countrymen and Women, everybody thought the news about MPs Car Loans for 2005-2008 parliamentary Years was over. Alas, on Friday 10th March, 2006, on Ghana Web, there was a headline WAYO SEINI DIPS HANDS IN MPs COFFERS.

Five years ago, all MPs were granted Twenty Thousand, 20,000.00 US dollars loan to purchase cars. Few months ago, the MPs were again granted Twenty Five Thousand, 25,000.00 US dollars each to purchase new cars. Are we in a Country of so much wealth and affluence?

At the beginning of the 2005-2008 parliamentary years, there was the headline, MPs, 18 million Cedis Hotel Saga. Ghana Web 4th July 2005. The news was that 118 New MPs had to be accommodated in Hotels for 60 US dollars a day, Before the Public knew about the MPs Hotel accommodation saga, it was learnt that the former Parliamentarians were refusing to vacate the bungalows meant for the new MPs, because they have not been paid their ex-gratia benefits. However, in separate developments, the Parliamentary Leadership had defended that, the Twenty million Dollars Car Loans to MPs, had been paid off out of their ex-gratia benefits.

It appeared then that somebody was lying to the people and in my article Captioned Mr. President, Act to Control Public Funds, on Ghana Web of 2005 -07 -05 . http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=85843 I asked the following three fundamental questions, which of course none has ever been answered, based on the claims by the Old Parliamentarians. 1) Whether the ex-gratia Benefits of the Ex MPs had been paid or not?

2) If they had been paid, then, what is making it difficult to evict them from the bungalows meant for the incoming new MPs?

3) If they had not been paid, then why have officials insisted that the final payment on their car loans were paid out of their ex-gratia benefits?

Fellow Ghanaians, there is something going on at the top that we do not know and will probably never know. That is why these articles are written for Ghanaians to know the way Governments from 40 years ago and today have, and continue to run the affairs of the country with impunity and total disregard to the plights of the ordinary people. It is the only way we may probably correct some of the Injustices, greed, bribery and corruption in our Government functions. Whether one is for or against the Government of the day, we must attempt to criticize constructively without bias in the total interest of Ghana and Ghanaians.

Let me tell my readers that, I do not belong to any political Party. I view the past and present and write my articles based on my objective analysis of the event. Let nobody label me for NPP or NDC. I AM FOR GHANA PERIOD. There is no reason for me to believe that, accommodating each of the 118 new Parliamentarians for 60 Dollars a day in Hotels, for over ten months, was nationalistic or sensible in anyway. For one month, it cost the country 18million Cedis to accommodate one MP in a hotel, Times 10 months, equals 180 Million Cedis. For accommodating all the 118 MPs, for the 10 months, it cost the Tax payer over 21 Billion Cedis. This is the same country which had placed newly born babies under detention for the inability of parents to pay for cost of Incubation and delivery, throughout the country?s Hospitals and Clinics. These innocent babies were released on the 8th March 2006, only as a gesture in commemorating the International Women?s Day celebration in Ghana. God only knows how long some of these babies were detained. Now fellow Ghanaians whatever Political Party you belong to, how do you comprehend these?

Now, it is my understanding that all the 118 new MPs have been allocated to new homes, and the old MPs have illegitimately occupied the old bungalows. The truth is, they took that action because they knew that was the system in place that each time an MP finishes his or her term of service; they are made to maintain their houses. That was why they refused to vacate them at the instance of parliamentary orders. Ask yourselves if that is a sensible policy. Do we always have to build new bungalows for new parliamentarians? Fellow Ghanaians, there are too many rots in our political system. Politicians have been made to take the Country and its People to ransom for too long and it is about time concerned citizens opened our eyes, think as Ghanaians and not as individuals anymore, and let us put some brakes to all the nonsense that goes on impeding the progress and development of the country.

At this point, I think readers can imagine why Professor Wayo Seini rushed to collect his Nissan Patrol 517 after tendering in his resignation letter to Parliament. He knows what kind of arrangement they have in place in Parliament with regards to their car Loans. Professor Wayo Seini knows about Fraud, appropriate and inappropriate, and wouldn?t have pushed through, the so-called Top-Up amount from the Prudential Bank even after he had resigned from Parliament. He knew he wasn?t doing anything wrong at all.

Not until the Professor?s action did anybody know about any Top-Up arrangements with Prudential Bank. All we know is the Seven Million US Dollars car Loan arrangement, entered into by the Government and Parliament, and the Barclays Bank of Ghana out of which every M.P was to be granted Twenty five Thousand Dollars (25,000.00) US Dollars Car Loans. Fellow Ghanaians 25,000.00 Dollars could not buy reasonable cars for the MPs and Parliament had to negotiate for Top-Up Loans with Prudential Bank, which wasn?t made known to the public ostensibly I believe, for fear of public outcry. Well, it is no longer a secret thanks to Prof. Wayo Seini; so let the Taxpayer now know how much top- up amount each MP got, and how much interest they are paying on the car Loans.

How much do the MP earn as salary, to be able to repay his or her car loan? Professor Wayo Seini?s behavior clearly shows that there is a hidden truth that the public do not know and will never know regarding the repayment of the MPs car loans. My suspicion is that, again by Prof. Wayo?s behavior, I can only imagine that those cars are given free to the MPs or at a depreciated cost after their term of office.

We might never know the dubious dealings that go on in and around Government today because there is no transparency, but it is true with the saying that, if you plant a secret vow in a bottle, it will definitely germinate. (SE WOKA NTAM GU TOA MU A EFIFI).THE TOP-UP AMOUNT IS AN EVIDENCE OF THE ADAGE, OTHERWISE WE WOULD NEVER HAVE KNOWN THAT THERE WAS ANY SUCH ARRANGEMENT WITH PRUDENTIAL BANK FOR THE PALIAMENTARIANS.

Fellow Ghanaians, we definitely live in a world of injustices, we live in a world where a group of people think that there is no end to life and therefore continue to illegally amass wealth while they see majority live in abject poverty and die in shame and sorrow. These are the unfortunate realities of today?s world. What goes on in our political circles, in Ghana, amount to abuse of office and if you think of the detention of a number of new born babies in our Hospitals throughout the country for a little over 500, million Cedis which is about the cost of Professor Wayo Seini?s Nissan Patrol car, then Yes; without doubt, Ghana needs people with new thinking to move the country forward.

Fellow Ghanaians, there must be the emergence of Sincere Dedicated and Selfless Politicians to move Ghana forward with a sense of purpose. If we really want to move forward, and develop as others like Singapore and Malaysia have moved from economic dependency to self reliance, then we need to change the way Politics is done at the Top, and educate the people for a change of attitude. Some people argue that we should not blame the Government alone but Ghanaians must change their attitude. Ghanaians are not known to be lazy people; just like we say no man was born a criminal but society makes him so. It is the society that has made Ghanaians what they are today. The top should lead by example and Ghanaians will change. We cannot expect the people to change when the Top Stinks.

It is very difficult to thrust or believe what anybody says today because of the long years of Political deceit and graft; but I still believe there are some few good and selfless people out there. I count myself as one of the dedicated, sincere, and selfless Ghanaians, ready to serve my country. Those out there who consider themselves as I do, are welcome to join me and a group of selfless people on a campaign trail during the next Political campaign season.

It is time we reclaim our country from the hands of the greedy and move it forward for generations yet unborn. Some people have written Ghana completely off but I haven?t, because I believe there is still hope for a Promised Land if we sacrifice and that is what I am prepared to do to move Ghana forward in development. Visionaries are born they are not trained. Join Save Ghana now Association www.saveghana.org and let us team up. We can overcome, and it can be done.

Ampofo Ofori (Chairman, Save Ghana Now Association)

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