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Opinions of Thursday, 5 July 2018

Columnist: Bernard Asubonteng

The crucifixion of Nyantakyi and other unsettling issues

As I boarded Brussels Airlines at the Kotoka Airport to the Belgium capital en route to my base in the United States on Thursday, June 14, 2018, there are lots of unsettling issues or experiences that burdened my moral conscience and outraged me, as a concerned Ghanaian in Diaspora.

So, sitting helplessly quiet onboard the huge Airbus A330-300 flying out from Accra, I tried to contextualize and impassionedly pondered over some of the disturbing experiences/events I observed during my three weeks stay/travel back home in Ghana. It was a remarkable experience as well as a culture shock, to say the least.

Needless to say, anyone exposed to the Western ways of life for a period of time quickly realizes upon arrival that all the day-to-day activities in Ghanaian society have underlying social reinforcements that are strikingly unique to the nation's cultural identity. Culture greatly influences people's worldviews and behaviors in every given society much the same way the people also shape the cultural ethos. For example, although there is periodic announcement over the airport public address system, warning workers not to solicit gifts or bribes from travelers, yet some employees still ask for “goro” from passengers, because some employees constantly harassed me for some money when I arrived at Kotoka on May 24, 2018, with the Brussels Airlines.

Another unsettling observation relates to departing from Kotoka Airport. Again, besides some employees asking for my last “20 or 50 Ghana,” hardly did the plane reach over Koforidua airspace and here comes announcement that the plane cabin was about to be sanitized or disinfected…of what? Well, your guess is as good as mine. The point is you don't see this sanitization effort on your way from U.S. to Europe or Europe to Ghana; it is only from Ghana. I have had this experience with all the foreign airlines l traveled with—British, Brussels, and Lufthansa. Does this speak about Ghanaians' way of life that makes Westerners treat us with disdain?

How about the reason people such as Anas Aremayaw Anas, a self-acclaimed corrupt-averse Ghanaian investigative reporter, is viewed almost throughout Ghana as an untouchable, ancient Greek-like tin-god, whose investigative approaches are not subject to laser-focused scrutiny the same way he and his Tiger Eye PI scrutinize others. In other words, does Anas' hay fever that seems to have hypnotized Ghanaians, especially, has cultural component to it?

Hence millions of Ghanaians, including the authorities, have timidly sat back while extolling the virtues of Anas as if he is above reproach. Mr. Kennedy Agyapong, MP for Assin Central, is more than right: “Who watches the watchman?” Unfortunately, no one “watches the watchman” in Ghana. Certainly, this development stems from the fact that the country is hopelessly corrupt. So anyone who comes along behaving like he or she has the best responses to the entrenched corruption in Ghana is treated like immortal hero. Moreso, it is fair to state that Ghanaian culture generally “celebrates” the ENDS more than the MEANS. Thus, in this country's culture the “end justifies the means” in many, many respects. Typically, Ghanaians do not care much about how or the means by which someone makes his/her money, as long as that person is rich, under whatever means is quite irrelevant.

But, in more serious and critical-thinking countries, high premium is placed on the means rather than on the ends. This is not to say the means and the ends are not equally important; indeed, both are complementary. In the American or the British culture, for instance, the system requires high ethical standards such that the means/methods via which one conducts his or her business have to be ethically fair or must measure up to the due process of the law. It also presupposes that investigative reporters or the media outlets have every right to play their watchdog role in the freely democratic environment, but in their effort to expose the ills of the societies, they must be circumspect enough to desist from using any dubious means to gather incriminating information on the people. Meaning: We can spin it anyway we want; Anas' probing methodology is a clear case of improper enticement that no civilized community will countenance.

The BBC, CNN, or any international body can “sponsor” or support Anas in whatever he is doing in Ghana/Africa, but the real question is: Would the British or American citizens sit idle by and cheer Anas on while he employs unlawful entrapment to get public officials in UK or US to accept bribes, quickly turn around and shame them of bribery? Obviously the answer is a big No! At any rate, no one should be surprised at these blatant inequities in that many of these advanced countries view Ghana/Africa as substandard, lawless environment in which anything goes. That is the sad narrative out there and somehow many Africans appear to be “cool” with it. Maybe it is a matter of inferiority complex.

No doubt, until his humiliating resignation, Mr. Nyantakyi had become cocky and consumed so much with power that he was almost behaving as if he was larger than life. He probably deserves his current predicament, because it serves as a wake-up call to all power-hungry public officials that power is transitory. Still, it doesn't change the fact that Anas' modus operandi raises not only questionable journalistic practices but also it raises ethical and legal issues as well.

While Ghanaians are spontaneously singing moral chorus of “crucify him, crucify him” directed at the former GFA chairperson, Mr. Kwesi Nyantakyi, they must also critically ponder over the legitimate concerns raised by the MP, Mr. Kennedy Agyapong regarding Anas and his Tiger Eye PI's real motives and intentions. It is about time. After all, Mr. Anas is a mortal being potentially prone to corruption just like everyone else. In the end, it is a question of checks and balances as practiced under smart cultures and serious democratic governments.

Bernard Asubonteng is US-based writer.