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Opinions of Friday, 12 July 2013

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Was B.A. Mensah Unjustly Treated ...

by Rawlings for Being an Akan?

The dream of Mr. B. A. Mensah becoming the forerunner of, and the pace-setter in, entrepreneurship in Ghana was truncated by former President J. J. Rawlings. Like other established Akans in various businesses targeted by Rawlings and his PNDC government for hypocritical, selective, tribal and enviously "skin pain" reasons, my Kumawu compatriot, a Father-in-Law in a sense, was not spared the rod.

Rawlings was goaded by lazy and corrupt persons like P. V. Obeng; damn opportunists who saw politics and involvement in the PNDC government as an arena for making quick bucks, confiscated B. A. Mensah's International Tobacco Ghana Limited Company (I.T.G). The architect behind the seizure of the company was rumoured to be P.V. Obeng who had wanted to become a shareholder in the company but was rejected by the sole proprietor, Mr. B. A. Mensah.

The pain of the rejection or failure to force himself on the owner of the company as a shareholder, infuriated him so much so that he instigated Rawlings, although the head of the government, however still a complete zombie, to impound the company for completely absurd reason - tax evasion. Mr B. A. Mensah never evaded any tax, be it corporate, excise or whatever. It was tax rebate or tax exemption granted to his then infant industry by the Supreme Military Council 1 (SMC 1) headed by General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.

I have read elsewhere that Rawlings seized the company for B. A. Mensah's failure to pay excise duty. Excise duty is an internal tax or duty on certain commodities, as liquor or tobacco, levied on their manufacture, sale, or consumption within the country. If this was true as alleged, should B. A. Mensah not be compelled to pay off all that he owed instead of confiscating his company and other properties?

It was just the intention of Rawlings and his like-minded lackadaisical fellows to render all rich persons in the country as poor as themselves and as they could. They hated personal success and wealth. They detested rich men and women with inexplicable passion hence, seizing the companies of successful Akans like B. A. Mensah, Siaw of Tata Brewery and Kwahu Motors.

Let me concentrate on International Tobacco Ghana Limited for the time being. Presuming B. A. Mensah had evaded tax, why did the Ghana Inland Revenue Services refuse payment by him (even up to threefold) citing the usual nonsensical abuse of power, "Order from above?" Surely, Rawlings and his lawless government had instructed the Inland Revenue Department not to accept any money payment from him but to seize the company. Shame on Rawlings for being that ignorant at the time. He allowed tribalism, envy and short-sightedness to cloud his vision, a young soldier aspiring to attain economic prosperity for the nation. He was knowingly or unknowingly by his hypocritical short-sighted implemented decrees seeking doom and gloom for Ghana and her children.

The State having seized B A Mensah's company and other properties as malevolently intended, the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Military Government headed by Rawlings put Ewes in charge to manage the company, now a government property.

In less than no time, his Ewe folks had mismanaged the company beyond recognition. This necessitated its sale to a foreign investor.

Mr B. A Mensah went to courts, struggled over years in courts and in public forums in attempts to get his company back. The courts ruled in his favour. The State should have accepted any money he owed it including penalty and interest payments but not instituting outright confiscation as the way forward.

Rawlings came to power through coup d'états with intention to make all or most rich men as poor as he possibly could envisage. Additionally, he had a penchant for curtailing the economic might of the Akans. What else can explain away his passionate hatred for the Akans even though he is married to an Akan woman?

The fact that B. A. Mensah was a strong NPP founder with wherewithal to finance the political party Rawlings hated with all his heart, soul and mind, made matters worse for him.

I am waiting for Rawlings to explain to the nation his real motive behind the seizure of B. A. Mensah's Cigarette manufacturing company - International Tobacco Ghana Ltd. While he was seriously making the already self-made rich persons poor, his previously poverty-stricken cronies were profiting from his absurd policies to make wealth for themselves, e.g. Paul Victor Obeng.

Stay tuned for more info. I will soon be firing the salvos. I am currently just preparing the grounds for the onslaught.

Rockson Adofo