It ought to have become limpidly clear to both the Ghanaian citizenry and our leadership by now that the single most significant drawback to our national development is the criminal penchant for and pathological addiction towards wasteful spending. A striking case in point is the recent patently pedestrian revelation that the government, in a desperate bid to securing adequate COVID-19 vaccines for the perfectly understandable protection of the Ghanaian citizenry from the still globally raging pandemic, has unwisely resorted to negotiating fiscally prohibitive backdoor deals with middlemen and women, rather than directly with the manufacturers, for the purchase of these vaccines. In the main, we are informed that the government has entered into such shady negotiations for the procurement of a vaccine called Sputnik V that is produced in the Russian Republic (See “Sputnik-V Procurement Contract Must Be Reexamined – Kweku Baako” Modernghana.com 6/12/21).
As one well-known Civil Society Organization (CSO) critic recently pointed out, the most savvy approach to the procurement of the Sputnik-V vaccine ought to have been for the Government of Ghana to have directly dialogued with the Kremlin or the Putin Government for the procurement of the same, I am also quite certain that there is a Russian Ambassador officially resident in Ghana and headquartered in Accra who could be readily accessed or contacted; as well, like the Americans, the Russian Government is highly likely to have a Consular Officer or a Trade Representative in the country, who could have offered the most efficient and cheapest advice and bulk or commercial access in this direction. It would also have made for good propaganda spiel in favor of Moscow before its Western rivals and most inveterate political opponents. I am also certain that our leaders heard American President Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., showcase his country’s foreign policy generosity by disclosing to the members of the G-7 Summit, that the United States was poised to either donating or making a couple of million vaccines available to some of the most economically deprived countries around the globe.
It goes without saying that the blind and indiscriminate use of mediators or middlemen and women in the procurement of virtually everything, from energy supply to the most basic of commodities and medical supplies, can only be bleakly expected to further compound the already seemingly intractable problem of official corruption in the country, despite the fact that some renowned and philanthropic party stalwarts have used this economically regressive channel or path to make themselves filthy rich, of course, at the expense of the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian taxpayers. And, yes, one could not agree more with Mr. Abdul-Malik Kweku Baako, Editor-Publisher of the New Crusading Guide, that the middleman-mediated Sputnik-V vaccine contract with S L Global Limited, suppliers of the aforementioned Russian-made vaccine, may need to be promptly renegotiated, especially since the cost of routing such purchases via the aforementioned supplier is alleged to have nearly doubled the manufacturer’s price of the Sputnik-V vaccine.
But, of course, there is always a catch here. And it is the fact that, invariably, contractual renegotiations mean a piddling or cosmetic reduction in the initially negotiated contractual agreement, which may not necessarily be worth the effort. Now, what needs to be done, in both the short- and long-term, is to significantly upgrade our contractual negotiations skills. What this means, as Prof. S K B Asante, the internationally distinguished octogenarian Ghanaian lawyer, scholar of Contract Law and Chief of Asante-Asokore, recently noted in a television interview, is the imperative need for Ghana’s leading law schools to promptly design and implement cranially intensive courses in Contract Law, to ensure that this crater-size intellectual and cultural deficit in this sphere of our national endeavor gets closed up within the shortest possible time.
Indeed, even as the immortalized and legendary Dr. J B Danquah once informed his former political understudy, mentee or protégé turned archnemesis, to wit, the equally distinguished, immortalized and legendary President Kwame Nkrumah, “Development is about much more than the erection of architectural monuments on a landmass.” It is, perhaps, even more far more significantly about the progressive and constructive development of the human mind than it is about anything else.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
June 15, 2021
E-mail: [email protected]