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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

The Rise and Fall of B.A. Mensah - Rawlings Accused!

The Late Mr. Benjamin Amponsah Mensah, well known internationally, nationally and locally as B. A. Mensah, was the son of Opanin Kwame Basoah (Agya) and Madam Akosua Donkor (Eno) from Kumawu. Both parents are deceased.

I have no interest in recounting his childhood, how well he served his parents, frequenting "Batafuom and Asuafu" at dawn to fetch water, helping others, fighting some in the queue while waiting his turn to collect water from those cool streams meandering through the cocoa farms like a snake slithering away from danger. I had personally fetched water from both streams. I would often stand aghast at how the streams serpentine through the valleys, at times carrying away fallen cocoa leaves.

When B.A. Mensah started putting up his International Tobacco Ghana Limited company (ITG) in the mid 1970s, many a Kumawu citizen thought, and said, "B. A Mensah's wealth is dwindling". He was not frequenting Kumawu as he used to, and when he did, he was not giving friends much money as he used to. He curtailed his known philanthropy. This was to enable him have enough money to resolutely carry out his determined quest that would make him a pioneer Ghanaian industrialist.

I quite remember one Agyei Danso, a student of Tweneboah Kodua Secondary School telling some people off saying, "You Kumawu people are villagers, go to Accra and see the huge industry B. A. Mensah is putting up. If you knew, you would not sit in Kumawu to say B. A. Mensah is now getting poor and poorer financially". I became conversant with his struggles to raise additional Ghana Commercial bank loans to see the construction of the industry through to success. It was not a small feat. He achieved his target having wiped off buckets of sweat from his forehead. He surely went through loads of sleepless nights until God crowned his efforts with unimaginable success to the envy of the pretentious latter-day saints, Rawlings, P. V. Obeng and other members of the PNDC government.

For all this while, where were Rawlings and Paul Victor Obeng, the eventual rogues who caused the lamentable downfall of B. A. Mensah in the name of ill-intentioned revolution? Rawlings was a young non-commissioned officer while P. V. Obeng was a student.

In the 1970s, Ghanaian pioneer industrialists of whom B.A. Mensah was paramount were allowed, in some circumstances, five-year tax rebate or exemption. This tax rebate was to encourage more people to create jobs to employ many workers. It was also to assist them offset the huge debts they might have incurred putting up such factories as it was in the case of B. A. Mensah.

The Military Government (Supreme Military Council 1) of General I. K. Acheampong granted B. A. Mensah a 5-year tax rebate. Not long into it, Rawlings and his "Abongo boys" staged a coup and not long after, were influenced by P. V. Obeng not only to abrogate the tax rebate B.A. Mensah was availing himself of but also, to seize his company.

Rawlings, tribalistic to the core with a mission to impoverish the Akans, was goaded by a selfish Akan, P. V. Obeng, to confiscate ITG for the State. B. A Mensah offered to pay with interest and all associated penalties inclusive, the tax rebate he had enjoyed and was enjoying if the PNDC government would not allow its continuation. He offered to pay what Rawlings and P. V. Obeng said to have been tax evasion, double or triple the amount but the Inland Revenue Department refused payment saying, "an order from above" had directed them not to accept any payment cheque from him but to seize the factory and other properties belonging to B. A. Mensah. Did they not impound his three ash-coloured Mercedes Benz?

From the outset, Rawlings and his bogus PNDC government will be held guilty for the harm they did not only to B.A. Mensah but also, to many other Ghanaian industrialists, especially, those of Akan descent.

This is the beginning of the series of well-intentioned publications to expose all those who failed the late B. A. Mensah and how to compel the authorities to release his confiscated factory and other properties to his children and relatives.

I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell - Harry Truman.

Rockson Adofo