Feature Article of Monday, 23 January 2012

Columnist: Boafo, Eric

Woyome-Cocaine Saga: From Action year to Messy Year

Roll back time to 2008: Eric Amoateng, a then NPP MP had been incarcerated on drug charges in the US; Ghana police were actively aiding drug kingpins in their trade as revealed in the DSP Kofi Boakye and the missing cocaine case; arrogance on the part of government appointees. Now fast forward three years, and one would wonder if perhaps NPP were still in power? Where is the better Ghana we were promised? We’ve gone from action year in 2011 to whatever they call this year only to turn back the clock to 2008? The year is still young but if what we’ve seen so far is any indication what is to come then 2012 would best be characterized as the Messy Year.

The police and judiciary are once again in the center of the drug menace; cronies of government are able scam the government into paying out millions of cedis into their pockets. The Presidents response and inactions in light of the Woyome and Cocaine scandals makes me wonder if the he is in charge of affairs. Off course, the president does not sign off on every single transaction, and may not have been aware of the payment but it’s his government and therefore he is responsible for the actions of his appointees. What has become very obvious with the Woyome scandal is that, the President is either giving conflicting orders to his appointees or his orders and direction are being ignored. How could the deputy Attorney General say the government did not go to court to defend the state because it had a bad case? Even broad day light murderers get a defense in court, how much more a whole government?

After their failed attempt to justify the payment and blame it on the Kuffour administration’s failure to honor a contract that Woyome was no party to, the President ordered the EOCO to investigate the issue while the AG went back to court to invalidate the earlier ruling. If the government had a bad case why is the AG in court now challenging the very basis of Woyome’s claim? If they cared about the state, why didn’t they do that due diligence at the very beginning? Why is EOCO investigating a case that is still pending at the courts? Why this mess if the president is indeed in charge? We have a Professor of law as president so why should his legal department be in this much disarray?

By ordering EOCO to investigate the circumstances surrounding the abrogation of the said contract, it is very obvious the president does not want to go down alone with this scandal. Three years into his administration the president still finds grounds to blame current happenings on the previous government. Mr. President the blame it on the previous administration holiday is over. You can’t take the credit and pass on the blame at the same time. The president has always taken the ‘holier than thou’ posture whiles his appointees do the dirty job for him. He would speak against politics of insults whiles his spokespersons indulge in it at the highest level. As he assumes the same posture with this scandal, his AG, Martin Amidu is single handedly taking on supposed criminals in the president’s own party and supposedly a criminal minister. (Well, that was before he was sucked)

The cocaine swap scandal is proof that the ‘holier than thou’ posture assumed by the president to serve as an example to Ghanaians is not enough to curb the drug trade menace. Subjecting himself to be pated down at the airport as a president is just what it is: SHOWCASE. If it worked we won’t have the police and the judiciary pointing hands at each other now. Isn’t it laughable that both institutions ran their own investigations only to exonerate themselves? The police even have the impudence to set aside Ghc 50,000 of taxpayer money as reward to anyone that has information. This is proof that both the police and the judiciary are only interested in perpetuating themselves rather than getting to the bottom of this issue and cleaning house. The drug menace is bigger than any one party for that matter, the president. When Ghana slid in ranking on the recent corruption index, the Deputy Minister for information, Ablakwa Okudjeto expressed his surprise because he felt the president had led by example by being humble. How is that enough to curb corruption?

It’s about time we stopped playing politics with the fight against corruption and institute real measures to help curb it. Let’s strengthen institutions like the Auditor’ General department which brought the Woyome payments to light. Let’s make institutions like the EOCO and BNI independent and arm them with teeth to even take on government officials. Mr. President, when you visited Tema port to barrage custom officials after Anas exposed the rot at the port, you posed the question, who police’s the policeman? Answer the question Mr. President, you are a lawyer. When ordinary people are arrested and abused by the police, their only recourse is to report to the Police Council. And it’s about time we hold public appointees accountable. Isn’t it sad that in all of this, the only person that has been sacked is Martin Amidu, the Attorney General who vowed in public to go after criminals in the ruling party? The former AG, Betty Mould-Iddrisu on whose watch the government lost the Woyome case was rather promoted to run the Ministry of Education, a ministry with about the biggest budgetary allocation. The IGP who has obviously failed to clean up the Police Service is rather going to every extent to exonerate his people.

The cocaine has already turned into sodium carbonate whiles the finger pointing between the police and the judiciary continues; Woyome has already banked his money; the person who vowed to go after him has lost his job and the holier than thou president looks on helplessly as his government implodes. Our interest should not only be rooted in getting to the very bottom of these scandals but more importantly how we prevent future occurrences by instituting and ensuring checks and balances in our governance process. Isn’t democracy a hopeless pursuit when the will of the people for change does not materialize? The mess has already been created, the ruling NDC can do Ghanaians a huge favor by cleaning it up and deliver the better Ghana they promised.

By: Eric Boafo