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Opinions of Monday, 27 June 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

We are only helping Mr Ogwanfunu to hang himself!

As I promised last week, I’ve returned this week to once again discuss the Ford Expedition gift, (or is it bribe?), to President Ogwanfunu. Following the publication of the article titled “I wish I had a contractor friend” last week, my friends flooded me with gifts to help me with my Ramadan fast. The gifts included sugar, milk, Milo and rice. I was both excited and disappointed, and I will tell you why.

I was excited because I was again reminded of the fact that there are people out there who remember and care for me. Even though I no longer eat sugar, milk and refined rice, I was excited because I knew the gifts were given without expecting anything in return. That is what I call a proper gift.

I’m sure you do know why I was disappointed. Not getting a car gift from any of my friends was a disappointment. But I do understand my friends. They are not contractors; so how do I expect them to have the wherewithal to afford a gift worth USD100, 000. The disappointment notwithstanding, I salute my incorruptible friends for the gifts!

Abusuapanin, many of my compatriots had expected the President to speak on the gift saga, and they didn’t have to wait for long. When Mr Ogwanfunu first spoke last week, all he could say was that it was a baseless allegation that wasn’t going to win anyone the presidency.

Baseless? That is funny, isn’t it? Is it baseless that a Burkina-be contractor had given him a car gift on the blindside of his compatriots? Is it baseless that he had accepted the said gift? Is it baseless that the contractor’s motive for becoming friends with him was to be helped to win contracts in Ghana? Is it baseless that the contractor subsequently won contracts in Ghana? Is it baseless that receiving the said gift has put him in a conflict of interest situation?

As for his comment that the bribery saga was not going to win anyone the presidency, it clearly shows that Manasseh’s revelation had dazed him. Please tell me, is the one who broke the story a contestant in any election? I do know that Manasseh Azure Awuni is a journalist. But I do not know if he has the intention of running for president in this year’s election. Maybe, just maybe, Mr Ogwanfunu knows what we do not know.

The explanation that he did not like American cars is even funnier. Listen to him: “I’VE NEVER BEEN UNDER THE ILLUSION THAT, THAT VEHICLE BELONGED TO THE STATE (caps mine). It has never been used for my personal comfort. In any case, I don’t use Ford; I don’t like American cars. I use Japan cars; Toyota is my car.”

If you read the sentence in caps above carefully, you will understand what the President meant. He was clear in his mind that the vehicle did not belong to the state. The argument that the car was added to the presidential pool is but a desperate attempt to throw dust into our eyes. If not, why was import duty paid on the said car if it was a gift to the state? The duty was paid because the owner was clear in his mind that the gift did not belong to the state.

Again, the fact that he doesn’t like American cars does not negate the fact that he had accepted a gift, which had put him in a conflict of interest situation. I know that some of the judges who accepted goat as bribe do not even eat meat. But that does not neutralise the fact that they had accepted goat bribe, does it?

Time and again, you hear Zu-za propagandists trying desperately to compare Mr Ogwanfunu’s bribery scandal to a gift of Mercedes-Benz given to the state during President Kufuor’s era. The comparison is laughable, to say the least.

While Mr Ogwanfunu received the gift in his personal capacity and in secret, Kufuor received it on behalf of the state and in full glare of the public. Furthermore, the contractor was emphatic that Mr Ogwanfunu even followed-up with a personal call to him to acknowledge receipt and to thank him. Indeed, but for Manasseh’s revelation, we wouldn’t have known that such a gift had ever been given. So the comparison is very pathetic and standing on very wobbly legs.

My president, your president and our president can delude himself into believing that what he received from the Burkina-be contractor was a gift. But we know better. We know gifts to public officials are bribes; and bribes do corrupt. It is therefore logical to say gargantuan bribes also corrupt ‘gargantuanly’.

After accepting a bribe wrapped in the form of a gift, no amount of insults and innuendos from Mr Ogwanfunu can cleanse his tainted hands. No one forced him to accept the Ford Expedition gift. He willingly accepted it, putting a noose round his neck in the process. We are only helping him to hang himself.

See you next week for another interesting konkonsa, Deo volente!