You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2009 10 07Article 169864

Opinions of Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi

The Godfather of “Probity and Accountability” Indicted

The bedrock of Flight Lieutenant J J Rawlings’ coup d’états in both 1979 and 1981 supposedly was to eliminate corruption; then commonly referred to as ‘Kalabule’. Well, so we were made to believe then. For this reason, some former heads of state and other people in the army were shot at stake. Some entrepreneurs who were perceived as corrupt lost their companies throughout the country; market women in Makola and Kumasi lost their wares, stalls and in some cases, their lifetime savings. Some women were publicly humiliated by being canned in their private parts all in the name of phasing out corruption; call it the peak of depravity if want. Many things were done in those times which were at variance with our Ghanaian beliefs, principles, custom and tradition. In spite of the atrocities associated with this crusade, students and the common man joined the crusade to rid our country of its corrupt elements in pursuance of fairness in our society. To ensure “Probity and Accountability” took roots; Ghanaians buried their long held beliefs and principles to sing along the “Let the blood flow” chorus.

Flt Lt Rawlings who plotted these coups and coined the above phrase ruled the country till 07.01.2001 when he handed over power to former President Kuffuor. Having had 19 years in the helm of affairs, one would have thought corruption was totally uprooted and banished to the dustbin of history. In fact one would be pardoned to hold that view considering the former President’s incessant attack and continuous labelling of NPP members as “Thieves” and “Corrupt” individuals. Similarly, one would not be faulted to think that the NDC is party of made up of saints. In truth, one would have thought that if there were any corrupt individuals and practices in the NDC, at least it would certainly not be in former President Rawlings tenure of office! No! The man wouldn’t countenance it!! The former president is idolised and worshipped by a section of our community who wouldn’t have a word said against their man; even if it is the TRUTH!!! To such people, he is a god. Some of us though, have consistently preached that former President Rawlings’ postulations are but a façade. It is said that, “all that glitters is not gold” and those who believe every metal that glitters on the market is gold get conned into paying expensively for cheap imitations.

Thank God for Friday, 25.09.09. This day marked an important milestone in the life of mother Ghana. This was the day a Crown Court in Southwark, United Kingdom passed sentence on bribery scandal against Mabey & Johnson Company Limited. The UK based company was investigated by the country’s SFO. The investigations established that Mabey & Johnson won their bids in Ghana by bribing some influential people in the then NDC government headed by former President Rawlings. The UKs SFO after establishing the above findings dragged the company to a Magistrate court where Mabey & Johnson indicated at hearing on 10th July 2009 its preparedness to plead guilty to the offence at the Crown court. It was not surprising therefore that the company went to the Southwark Crown Court and did not contest their culpability. Those who have followed the case since it started have anticipated this outcome. There were no surprises when the Southwark Crown Court passed sentence on Friday, 25.09.09. Mabey and Johnson had earlier voluntarily disclosed that it “had sought to influence decision-makers in public contracts in Jamaica and Ghana between 1993 and 2001”. Unfortunately for former President Rawlings, some ministers under his government have been fingered as having received bribes in helping to facilitate Mabey and Johnson getting those contracts. Initial reactions of some people were: Ministers receiving bribes during the Presidency of Rawlings; the originator of “Probity and Accountability” slogan!?! Wonders, they say, will end! The company admitted to paying £750.000 towards a certain “Ghana Development Fund” and various sums totalling £470.000 to some ministers in the Rawlings administration. Among those mentioned are Kwame Peprah, George Sipa Yankey (both gentlemen spent time in prison for similar crimes in Quality Grain scandal), Alhaji Amedu Seidu etc. Methinks this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is what has come from the United Kingdom and only God knows how much more was paid by companies from China and Eastern European countries. We will never know it all but at least those who think corruption reared its ugly head only when the NPP took office would know better now if they really want to. With all these happening under the eagle eyes of former President Rawlings, I dare ask; were Ghanaians conned into believing his “Probity and Accountability” slogan? Or was it just another gibberish just to throw dust into the eyes of the unsuspecting Ghanaians? Mabey & Johnson have no interest in Ghanaian politics and so their admission of the offence and preparedness to pay reparation of £650.000.00 to Ghana should not be seen as a red herring. Unsurprisingly, Ametor Quame of the NDC, issued a laughable statement on a radio station in Accra that the “SFO in UK has ulterior motives”. I want Ametor Quame and his think-a-likes to know that they can go ahead and tell such stories to their wives and girlfriends but they should never take Ghanaians for dunderheads! Such infantile statement! The least said about it, the better. President Mills’ advisors should caution him to desist from repeating the mistake of his mentor Rawlings who issued a “white paper” to dismiss similar findings against some of his ministers by the Emile Short’s SFO. The sentence by the Southwark Crown Court in London renders the PNDC/NDC slogan of “probity and accountability” a hoax and hollow. To put it in plain language, it was a con and if former president Rawlings was any mortal as I am, he would unreservedly apologise to Ghanaians for deceiving us. But then again, is he mortal?

I have not been the least surprised by the former President’s reaction to these revelations. He could only say that he trusts Prof Mills to investigate the matter and do the right thing or words to that effect. Actually, the right thing for you to do is to go on national TV and apologise to Ghanaians for not being able to put your ministers in check whilst preaching “probity and accountability” to the rest of the populace, Mr Rawlings! Period!! You have taken the moral high ground for far too long. But such is the man’s hypocrisy and stinking arrogance that I cannot see him render an apology to the common Ghanaian he claims to love so much. Whilst his ministers were widening their pockets for kickbacks and whilst they were loosening their belts drinking beer and good wine, our parents were being asked to tighten theirs. It takes a thief to know a chief thief and that is why Mr Rawlings has never stopped castigating Kuffuor. Remember dear reader that other people died on the altar of “probity and accountability” for lesser crimes? Former President Rawlings perhaps does not see himself as equal to fellow Ghanaians and thinks it is enough just to say President Mills will do the right thing. Mr Rawlings has consistently insinuated that former President Kuffour is a “thief”. The former air force Flight Lieutenant has also insinuated that ministers under Kuffuor’s administration were “corrupt” though none of them has yet been convicted. I am not in anyway suggesting that the there were no corrupt individuals in the NPP. There were. But I also believe that, until someone is given a proper trial in a court of law and found guilty, we should consider those people innocent and respect their human rights. To former president Rawlings though, this assertion does not apply to anyone in the NPP. Indeed, he views anyone associated with the NPP with disdain and his effusions about former president Kuffuor in particular has always been insalubrious. Now that we have it on record that some ministers who served under him were corrupt, shall we say the former president is equally guilty of corruption by virtue of his association with such people as he has continually done to the NPP and its members? To the apologists of President Rawlings, I have news for you; if the pennies have not yet dropped from your eyes, then I am afraid you may remain blind forever. Now the genie is out of the bottle! Ghanaians wait to see how the NDC and its spin doctors try to put it back. All that glitters is, indeed, not gold!

President Mills on assumption of office, it appears was in a hurry to spite former president Kuffour and the Ghanaian judiciary for jailing George Sipa Yankey, Kwame Peprah and others so much so that he appointed Sipa Yankey a minister and his cohorts to various positions in his government. This was a deliberate act on the part of the former tax law professor to humiliate the judiciary and former president Kuffuor. That decision though, it appears, has come back to bite him in the proverbial backside. Now these same people stand convicted by a foreign court of law. By coming out to endorse his ministers soon after the Southwark Crown Court sentence, Prof Mills was again deliberately giving our judiciary and that of the UK the two fingers. “A better Ghana” indeed!! The president should do the honourable thing by sacking George Sipa Yankey and Kwame Peprah if he wants to be taken seriously. Would he or would he not!? That is the million dollar question. Surely, the godfather of “probity and accountability” and his henchmen stand accused and indicted. ‘Sh*t’ they say sticks and this sh*t is not going to be washed off easily. For now though, Ghanaians and the international community are watching how our current president handles this indictment on his party, his ministers and his mentor. In recent times, there has been the Nigerian allegation about monies channelled through Mr Rawlings to the NDC before the 2008 elections; there has also been the SCANCEM allegation and now this. There are currently more allegations against Mr Rawlings than Mr Kuffour. Interestingly enough, they are flooding in under NDC government so let no one try to wave them off with the petulance of a spoilt child. By Jove! We shall know the full story by and by. Or shall we invoke the god of Antoa Nyamaa?

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei