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Opinions of Saturday, 6 December 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Occupy Ghana Is A Bit Wrong-Headed

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Nov. 13, 2014

The ultimatum given the Auditor-General by the political-activist and civil-society pressure group, Occupy Ghana, to recover all stolen public monies documented in the department's reports spanning the last 11 years is rather unrealistic (See "Omane-Boamah Backs Call Against Auditor-General" 11/13/14). I am not aware that the Auditor-General, rather than the Sheriff's department, if there is one in Ghana, is mandated with coercive or police powers to ensure that debts owed the government and people of Ghana are promptly collected.

Then also, the period between a court's decision ordering the collection of a debt owed and the stipulated collection of such debt ought to be clearly delineated before any such action could legally and legitimately commence. Occupy Ghana may have a moral authority to express its outrage over the non-collection or undue delay in the collection of debts and the retrieval of stolen monies owed the state, but it has absolutely no judicial and/or legal powers to supervise the same.

What the leaders of this pressure group may need to do, in order to ensure that government debtors promptly pay up, as it were, is to cause the publication of a comprehensive list of such debtors in newspapers and the electronic media. This may be what he means, when Justice Emile Short calls for the establishment of a naming and shaming process of reining in such corrupt and antisocial practices that have cost the nation incalculable financial losses, and continue to cause more losses by the day.

The 30-day ultimatum may not be realistic, because it cavalierly presumes the ability of all the documented debtors to immediately settle the respective amounts of monies owed the government and the Ghanaian people. For starters, 11 years is quite a long time to have witnessed the deaths of a remarkable percentage of the known and documented debtors as well as the dissolution of debtor firms and companies. And then, also, among the still living, there may be a slew of pending litigation cases that require prompt settling before any such debts could be legally and legitimately recouped.

In the landmark Woyome Case, for example, months after the Wood Supreme Court handed down its definitive decision/verdict, the case is still being litigated, as I understand. How this came about, though, boggles the imagination. Perhaps it is because of the fact that "Case Woyome" has an international dimension to it. And it is this abjectly bizarre means of scandalously undermining decisions and pronouncements issued by the country's Court-Of-Last-Resort that ought to be promptly addresed and redressed, if the integrity of our judicial system is to be guaranteed, and the long-term development of the country assured.

I, however, personally do not give a hoot whether Dr. Omane-Boamah, the Mahama communications minister, supports the call by Occupy Ghana or not. And to be certain, his public expression of support may well be strategically aimed at defusing tension between this civil-society pressure group, thereby ensuring that the government will be able to buy enough time while it concentrated most of its energy and attention on some of the most pressing problems presently facing the Mahama government.

Well, rather than running rings around the issue, by inviting the leaders of Occupy Ghana to read the report of an audit allegedly conducted by the Ministry of Communications, the veritable propaganda arm of the Mahama regime, Dr. Omane-Boamah could do far better by publishing a comprehensive detail of steps taken so far by the government to retrieve these monies from which particular individuals and corporations, and also about what remains to be done and precisely how. Needless to say, the era of suavely talking down to the people has far receded into history. Now is the time to level up with the people or be drowned by the same.