09.06.2003 Feature Article

More confessions, JAK?

By Press
More confessions, JAK?
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I. K. Gyasi for Chronicle

In his second meeting with the media, President J. A. Kufuor touched on what he described as confession time.

He told his audience that he and his New Patriotic Party (NPP) people had made a mistake in criticizing the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the number of ministers that Government had.

Some applauded the President for what they saw as his candour and honesty. Others were, however, cynical. They felt that the President was merely laying the foundation for a subsequent increase in the number of ministerial appointments.

When further appointments were indeed made, the President justified it by saying that it was necessary in view of the workload. He was quick to add it was not a case of “ jobs for the boys.”

I wonder whether, in the case of the NDC, the appointments were meant to provide jobs for the boys.

Today, we have such oddities as Minister for Presidential Initiatives, another one for the beautification of Accra and yet another for NEPAD.

Of course, it is admitted that other portfolios have been attached but what are we going to have next? Minister of Foreign Investment and Presidential Travels? Politics!!

President Kufuor has also admitted that, sometimes, there is a time lag between the announced intention to carry out a project and its actual implementation. Any more confessions, Mr. President?

While we wait, one must remind the President of some serious matters that require his attention and immediate action.

He should be reminded that, when he assumed the reins of Government, he told the whole world that he was going to be very particular about security and was also going to fight corruption. The slogan for the latter was “Zero tolerance for corruption.”

Only he and his security commanders can tell us how far he has gone in ensuring that security has prevailed in the country.

What of his zero tolerance for corruption? His own minister, Mallam Issa, is still serving a jail sentence for stealing or for causing financial loss to the State in recklessly handling State money.

Mr. Victor Selormey, former Deputy Minister of Finance in the NDC Government, is also doing time. The recent additions are Mr. Kwame Peprah, former Minister of Finance and Mr. Ibrahim Adam, former Minister of Food and Agriculture, both of the NDC Government and Dr. George Sipa Yankey, a former legal official.

Going by this evidence, one might be tempted to say that the President is actually prosecuting his fight against corruption. But wait a minute.

A major criticism which was frequently levelled against former President J.J. Rawlings and his Government was that the former President shielded his people in Government and others in spite of evidence of corruption.

It was further stated that, where the former President dismissed such an erring member of Government, that person was allowed to go home to enjoy his loot without any prosecution before the law courts.

Has anything changed? Today, practically the same allegations are being made in the media against some officials of this NPP Government.

Let me say something here before I continue. I admit that with all those retractions and apologies, the media is in grave danger of losing credibility, despite the great job it is doing.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for some of us to avoid being skeptical and cynical about what we read in some of our newspapers.

It seems as if some of them are bent on being criminally mischievous, deliberately negligent, and totally uncaring about personal morality and professional ethics.

No matter the falsity of the stories they put out, they will still go ahead and put them in the newspaper, on television or on radio.

As the records of the Ghana Journalists Association’s Ethics Committee and those of the National Media Commission clearly indicate, more and more media people are found guilty of unprofessional conduct than otherwise.

Be that as it may, let us not throw the baby away with the bath water. In other words, it has to be admitted that the media (both print and electronic) has published incontrovertible facts about individuals and organizations.

The President has sacked at least three District Chief Executives. In one case, The Crusading Guide’s expose could be said to have played a major part in the dismissal of one of them.

Unfortunately, no explanation was given for that action taken by the President, a silence for which former President Rawlings was criticized.

Non-NPP officials have gone to jail following prosecution. Will the President cause judicial proceedings to be instituted against those who were dismissed for corruption? Or is President Kufuor going to tell us, “Countrymen, I have another confession to make. I did not know that it is so difficult to prosecute your own people.”

In fact, currently, there is a case that has attracted considerable media attention. It is the Obatan project involving Databank, Enterprise Insurance Company and our own Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

The interests are many: politics, economics, family, ethnicity and many more.

At least from one newspaper, I have read of the attempt to defend certain interests by divorcing morality from the law.

I sincerely hope that President Kufuor will not allow himself to be influenced by such spurious defence, such chicanery, and such sophistry.

When we talk of corruption, we are tempted to think of bribes being taken. But corruption can also mean moral degeneration or an unconscionable attempt to divorce morality from law in public transactions or behaviour.

Legal shenanigans should not have a place in the government of someone who professes belief in God. When all fails, morality is the higher law that keeps society from going rotten, leading to total disintegration. President Kufuor may not know it but his campaign to rid our society of corruption is itself under serious trial.

It is not being said here that he should jail innocent people in his party or Government merely to prove the point that he is impartial.

All that is being said is that not everybody is convinced that there are no skeletons in the cupboard of the NPP or the Government.

The record in this country is that it is only after a change of government (violent or otherwise) that the skeletons are dragged out and exposed to public view.

So far, it seems as if the record remains unbroken. Now the big challenge is up to President Kufuor. If he allows the opportunity to slip by, a time will surely come when the skeletons in the cupboard of the NPP and the Government would also be exposed.

We thought that only the NDC Government did not have enough guts to stand eye-ball to eye-ball with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the so-called development partners or donors.

Now, under the prodding of these so-called partners, the Government has pathetically removed the duty it imposed on the imports of rice and poultry.

We are definitely going to sell the profitable Ghana Commercial Bank in return for chicken feed because the World Bank and the IMF say we should. Heaven knows which other national assets we will be forced to sell.

We were determined to be self-sufficient in rice production or at least increase production levels.

Then the Japanese Government donates an estimated ten thousand tonnes of rice to us. Our Finance Minister stoutly defends this donation that will adversely affect our attempt to increase local rice production.

The truth of the matter is that we are admitting that we are unable to feed ourselves and must be helped. Simple and short, Mr. Osafo Maafo.

When will President J.A. Kufuor come to confess again that he and his party people had been unfair to the NDC in the matter of IMF-World Bank diabolical influence on us?

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