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Opinions of Sunday, 5 May 2013

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Tell Us What You Own, Ablakwa!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Appearing before the parliamentary appointments committee recently, former Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa huffed over the fact of him having been widely accused of using his office to illegally acquire wealth in the form of several gas stations (See "Ablakwa: I Don't Own Even One Filling Station"

According to the Deputy Minister Designate (now confirmed as substantive Deputy Minister) for Education, his detractors appear to be confusing him with an uncle by the name of "Daniel Okudzeto who owns a lot of filling stations." And so maybe Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa ought to have been asked to declare his property holdings, rather than unwisely predicating the same on sheer rumor, as one member of the parliamentary vetting committee is reported to have done.

On another level also, it would be quite interesting for the public to learn about precisely how Uncle Daniel Okudzeto came to own so many gas stations, especially if he also happens to be a prominent member of the "social democratic" National Democratic Congress. This angle of questioning is both relevant and significant because the key operatives of the NDC, including Chairman Jerry John Rawlings, have made a heroic and distinguished career out of sleuthing over how many a well-heeled Ghanaian citizen came by his/her property.

In other words, to what extent did Uncle Daniel Okudzeto use his connections in government to acquire more gas stations than he would ordinarily have been able to do. Then also, an independent investigation could be conducted into whether, indeed, Uncle Daniel Okudzeto owns all the legions of gas stations by himself or that, in fact, he may well be fronting for highly placed relatives like Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa for quite a remarkable percentage of the same.

For me, personally, though, the question of qualification is more significant vis-a-vis the re-designation of the former Deputy Information Minister by President Mahama as Deputy Education Minister. But that the appointment comes in the wake of a major crisis in the entire Ghanaian educational system, makes Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa's qualification for the job all the more relevant.

In other words, what substantive edge does the appointee bring to this most vital sector of our national cultural development? In the case of Naana Opoku-Agyeman, whose now-former husband, Prof. Opoku-Agyeman, I once had the privilege of meeting at New York City College sometime in 1989, or thereabouts, at the Langston Hughes Festival and Conference, for example, her appointment as substantive Minister of Education clearly appears to be predicated on the fact of her having distinguished herself as a leading light in the academy, as it were. With Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa, however, one is not so certain, except to wistfully conclude that he is being afforded his patent sinecure because he has behaved himself creditably as a good party boy who has, in the recent past, been willing to cynically and unconscionably bombard an unsuspecting Ghanaian public with acute mendacity deviously varnished as a propitious plank of the so-called Better-Ghana Agenda.

Indeed, if he is being widely accused of a profligate lifestyle and ill-gotten wealth, it is obviously because since being named as a cabinet second-bananas in the erstwhile Mills-Mahama government, Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa seems to have publicly acquired the lavish and flamboyant lifestyle of the proverbial jet-set. On his honeymoon, for example, the former NDC wag was widely reported to not only have "jetted" himself from one end of the country to another, but also extravagantly embarked on what amounted to a global sight-seeing tour. The foregoing occurrences may well have fueled rumors regarding Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa's owning several homes abroad, largely here in the United States. Reports regarding his younger sister's enrollment at an expensive private college somewhere in the State of Virginia have not meliorated matters.

It is also significant and interesting to observe the fact that the key operatives of the Rawlings-minted National Democratic Congress are globally notorious for having perfected the art of public denial into epic proportions. The rather annoying idea here is that the more vehement the denial, the more credible it is likely to come off to a largely unsuspecting and readily forgiving Ghanaian public. Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa knows this more than the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian citizens, because most of his short time in government has been intensely focused on the trucking of abject mendacity and sheer propaganda.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
April 12, 2013