Feature Article of Friday, 31 August 2012

Columnist: Tsuo, Cedric

Open Letter to His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama

Dear Mr. President,

I trust this letter finds you in robust health, “en forme”, as the French would say. Sir, do forgive me for trying to reach your ear via an open letter. Sir, I first thought of calling you on the telephone only to realize that I had neither your landline nor mobile number; no email address, either. I then thought of mailing it to you c/o The Castle/Flagstaff (formerly Jubilee) House, Accra, as, ”STRICTLY PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL”. But it occurred to me that by the time the pigeon got it through the chain of offices that dot the corridors of power, and finally, into your in tray, if ever, your manifesto would have been published, and that would have defeated the purpose of my efforts. It then it dawned on me that GhanaWeb would be the fastest means of reaching you, assuming that you have bright talented staff who scans GhanaWeb every morning and evening and reports directly to you issues that preoccupy Ghanaians.

Sir, my reason for writing is that I have some good news (or advice) that I wish to impart to you. It is a votes-winner! (PPP have come out boldly and nailed their colours to the mast on this issue, and I congratulate them whole heartedly, with my vote.)

As you may have assessed already, the most potent weapon in your presidential opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo’s, armoury against you is corruption under the NDC government. You, as an individual, are also tarnished with the brush of corruption over your involvement in the negotiations leading to the failed STX South Korean Housing project. In his IEA speech, Nana Addo minced no words about corruption, saying: ”It is clear that corruption has become rampant in these last few years, robbing us of much needed resources for our development.” To drive home the point, he put corruption in the context of recent spate of payments of questionable debt judgments, which he claimed deprived mother Ghana of development funds that could have gone into free education, health, water, power, food security, etc. Imagine NDC corruption snatching bread out of the mouth of a malnourished and starving Ghanaian child, whilst NDC government officials get fatter and fatter on looted public resources. NPP have been firing this NDC corruption weapon to great effect. I believe Nana Addo is winning the hearts and minds of voters by wrapping NDC in the corruption label. The reason is that Ghanaians are sick to the back teeth with corruption in high places in government, their families and cronies.

Dear Mr. President, we would all agree that it is one thing accepting that a problem exists. But it is quite another matter agreeing on the right tools to address it effectively. This is where fiction or action parts company with reality or rhetoric. Regarding corruption, Nana Addo projects himself Mr. Clean of Ghana, and he alone is capable of ridding Ghana of the canker. To refresh your memory, Sir, this is how Nana put it: “I am determined to fight corruption aggressively, and I can do so, because I am not corrupt, have never been corrupt...” Fine and brave words! But the fact of the matter is that fine words alone do not solve problems, however well-intentioned they might be. One needs the right instrument to solve a problem. This is why I am amazed that in spite of all his posturing on corruption, Nana Akufo-Addo should bulk at the idea of committing himself and NPP to instituting the only legal framework that would enable him to “fight corruption aggressively”, i.e., to create independent post of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), separate from Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, which heavily liable to political influence and considerations. Nana tried to dodge that crucially important responsibility by saying somewhat lamely that he saw “no compelling reasons” for that post! But that makes absolutely no sense unless he has something to hide or he is planning to “chop big” once he gets into office. Nana knows very well and fears that independent DPP would go after the fat cats and the drug barons bent on enriching themselves at the expense of national development. Which other conclusion could one draw?

There is real possibility that some voters might take Nana Adoo at face value and give him their votes, simply because you, Mr. President, carry a heavy political baggage of incumbency on this particular issue of corruption. You were part of the government under whose watch the questionable judgement debts were paid. I am afraid, Sir, you cannot escape the charge guilty by association. Now, what can you do to salvage NDC government’s image as corrupt? What strategy options are open to you in this regard? I may just have the answer. I propose a two-pronged strategy for you. First, try and take the bolt out of Nana Addo’s anti-corruption thunder. And how do you do that? It is as simple as drinking water, if one can find safe drinkable water anywhere in Accra. All that you need to do is Nana Addo publicly and unreservedly on the problem of corruption (as Sir Humphrey Appleby in the British comedy, “Yes, Prime Minister”, so beautifully put it, you cannot stab a man in the back unless you get behind him!) and give fighting it prominence in DNC’s manifesto, emphasising that you will get rid of it in all its myriad forms, irrespective of where it may rear its ugly head. Second, having got behind Nana Adoo, you deliver what I may call “coup de grace”. Your manifesto should also declare, unlike Nana Akufo-Addo, that you will amend the Constitution to create independent post of DPP, with the same level of security and independence, if not more, as now apply to the posts of Auditor-General and the Electoral Commissioner, within three months of being returned to power. For the icing on the cake you could commit yourself to looking for and appointing to the post a crack Ghanaian criminal lawyer, irrespective of his/her political or ethnic hue. That should establish you as a more serious candidate committed to combating the canker of corruption.

Sir, the fact that PPP have beaten you to it by declaring the same strategy is no reason why NDC should also not do so. On the contrary, that is the more reason why NDC should also make that commitment to Ghanaians, if you also believe strongly as PPP does in deploying the right anti-dote against corruption. The more political parties agree on a problem and the way to address it the easier its implementation. Mr. President, seize the opportunity.

Sir, I am awfully sorry to be going on and on about the need to deploy all possible legal instruments against corruption but I do feel very strongly about it. I love my country dearly and I want it to succeed in making life worth living for all my country men, women and children. We deserve the best. As Nana Akufo-Addo rightly said, we are not a poor country by any means. We are richly endowed with natural and human resources. But we need serious politicians with vision, courage and deep commitment to accountability to create a little paradise of our own for the benefit of all Ghanaians. One of the courageous actions that our politicians must take in this regard is a pledge to amend the Ghanaian Constitution to create the post of independent DPP. In this way they will have demonstrated their commitment to ending corruption.

My best wishes to you, Sir.

Cedric Tsuo
Tetekorpe, South Ketu District, Volta Region