A few people have written about the Quality Grain Scandal and the resultant fallout, including the trial and sentencing of former prominent members of the Rawlings government. Just the other day, for instance, Siisi(I thought that was a girl's name) Quainoo raised quite compelling issues concerning the Causing-Financial-Loss To-The-State Law. I do not intend to take issue with him over the pertinent concerns he raised in his article because, and I must admit, some of them do bother me.
I want, however, to say that it is justifiable, on the whole, for the government to use this law to clamp down on the NDC crooks, and throw as many of them into jail as the law in question would let them. Then later on, when we are satisfied with how many of them we have been able to punish, and deservedly so, we could send the law back to the floor of Parliament for a repeal. And my reasons are very simple.
This law was initially passed by the PNDC, and in its prototype form it was called DOING ACTS WITH THE INTENT TO SABOTAGE THE ECONOMY OF GHANA. They employed this amorphous decree in many instances to rein in a good number of their opponents, especially those successful business men, industrialists and professionals who the PNDC, in their paranoid state of mind, thought would organise armed resistance against their rule.
In ordinary personal relations between people, I think that forgiveness and tolerance are essential attributes that must be pursued for the sake of a peaceful and harmonious life. In politics, however, I believe in retribution and recompense because we cannot extrapolate this principle of simply forgiving and forgetting, onto the national level and expect it to work. It would be too costly. The danger is that some power hungry and unscrupulous people in the body politic would always take advantage of this forgiving attitude and perceive it as a weakness in the political system. This would result in these smart alecks doing things to alter the course of a country's politics and life.
Rawlings and his gang of miscreants took advantage of the magnanimity of the Limann regime, and the politically tolerant atmosphere of the day, pounced on us, and did so many undignified things to us; and for twenty years most Ghanaians sang, "it is OK, leave them alone. One day they will be gone, and we shall have our peace". True, they are gone (are they really gone? Haven't they become some 'osaman twentwen', an irritating ghost which haunts people even at unlikely times) but still many Ghanaians are saying we should forget about the past and move on.
How can we forget about the past and move on when so much atrocity has been wilfully committed in the name of Democracy and good governance? How can we forget anything when our women have been humiliated, including instances when some were stripped naked and whipped on their bare buttocks; or stripped naked and made to bend over in public, all in the name of a revolution? How can we as a people forget and forgive, when hundreds of people who suffered in various degrees under the Rawlings' dictatorship are forever traumatised and hurting sorely? Many people have lost their lives; many others have been permanently maimed emotionally and/or phyisically, and I think someone has to be called to account. If what went on in our beloved country under Rawlings and his hoodlums was democracy, as they termed it, then I do not want to have anything anymore to do with DEMOCRACY. If what we went through in those dark days were because the (P)NDC cared about us, then I do not want any government anymore to have our good at heart.
When the PNDC put that decree in place - DOING ACTS WITH THE INTENT TO SABOTAGE THE ECONOMY OF GHANA - they had a different set of people in mind. They certainly made this law for their opponents or, even if you like, their enemies, as that was what they called every one who didn't agree with their brand of politics and the direction they were taking our country. At that time they thought they were going to be in power for ever because Rawlings, left alone, would never have organised elections. After all, the bloke says all the time that he doesn't believe in party politics; which makes me wonder what at all the fellow believes in in this life. So, in essence, they deliberately set out to use that law to punish dissenters and show them 'where power lies'.
Kwamena Bartels has said a lot recently about how he and Dr. Safo Addo were arrested for no reason, arraigned before one of the PNDC's kangaroo courts and tried under this same law. I vividly remember those events which were later followed by a mid-night military attack on , I think, Dr. Safo Adu's residence in which Adu Boahen was also a target, and in which an army captain lost his life. All of this nonsense was because Safo Adu and others believed in a different kind of politics. Fortunately, God has, today, helped us to regain control of our country and got these criminals under our thumb. And now that we have the opportunity to punish them for their misdeeds why would we pass it up? If we don't punish them today, when will smart alecks like Rawlings ever learn from their mistakes. Isn't he still going around the country and extolling the gains of his so-called revolutions, and saying all the time what a good job he thinks he did by eliminating his opponents? Isn't he doing all this because he knows that Ghanaians, as forgiving as we are, may never ever get round to trying him for his excesses? If we do not punish military adventurers like Rawlings and his band of freebooters to serve as a deterrent, how would we send a clear and frightening message to the future generation that it is not easy to hijack our contry's democratic set up for as long as you want and get away with it? Unfortunately, because we let villains and brigands get away with anything, they always come back.
I believe politicians must be punished for actions that they willfully take, especially to spite their opponents. And this includes laws that they pass with the sole aim of strengthening their position against their opponents. When the PNDC hoodlums were crafting this ambiguous law, little did they know that one day they would fall from grace, and that the same law would turn around and, like a viper, bite them. That is why I am happy they are being scalded by their own law. Our Akan elders say that "SE WOTO ADURU A EBI KA W'ANO". This means literally that when you try to cast a spell or spiritual curse on someone it could come back to hurt you. Or better still, the English say, curses come home to roost. Another favourite Akan saying is, ABAA A WODE BO BAAH NO ENO ARA NA WODE BO TAKYI. Literally, the rod that is used to whip Baah is the same rod that is used on Takyi. This saying reminds us that our evil actions will always boomerang back on us, or blow up in our faces. Which is exactly what is happening to the (P)NDC.
It would be more appropriate to institute a government inquiry into the numerous cases of political brutalities, and dole out punishment to those who are proved guilty for the part they played in them. Having done that, the state would close the chapter once and for all on this period. In that case no personal vendettas and 'one-man' justice would be entertained. On the contrary, I shudder at the consequences of sweeping hurtful feelings under the carpet and wishing personal vendetta away. They would never go away and they would never stay under the carpet. What if the children (or grand-children) of Major Okyere(from Abekwase, whose sons, Percy and Ken were my school mates), Colonel Feli, Generals Akuffo, Acheampong, Utuka, Boakye, Afrifa, Amedume, Kotei, etc. decide to take the law into their own hands some day, and go it solo because the state didn't live up to its responsibility of granting justice to their families? This would result in a mindless cycle of politically motivated violence for which there would be no end. To avoid this occurrence, we should deal with these issues pretty soon because some of the revelations coming out of the NRC hearings are chilling, and cannot be merely ignored.
The NPP folks are too smart to let this law fall into the hands of the NDC again so that they misuse it against their opponents some day. The NPP will use it to punish the (P)NDC crooks sufficiently, and in a good way; and then when they are satisfied, they will repeal it so that elders would say again that "WON SO AWIA NA EREFI NO". Literally, it is their sun that is shining upon them. Idiomatically, this means simply that they are reaping what they sowed. We should let them stew in their own juice. That way, they would know what the gravy tastes like. It is payback time for the crooks, and we should make sure that they are handsomely rewarded.
My heart's desire is for President Kuffuor to win a comfortable majority in the next elections. Then when he has been bolstered by this massive mandate from us I pray he would use this law a little more to whip the (P)NDC; and more importantly use his majority to clean out the constitution. Specifically, I wish parliament would repeal the section on the TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS which do not allow us to prosecute PNDC operatives like Rawlings, and the many others who connived to murder the High Court judges, Major Sam Acquah, Rev. Father Kuka, Kyeremeh Djan, Mawuli Gokah, Halidu Gyiwah, Sarkodie Addo (the soldier, not the judge), and sent so many other unknown people to their early graves just because they held different views from them. Ghana must exact that retribution at the state level to appease our land of innocent blood; and the responsibility falls squarely on the NPP. Let the blood flow! Does that sound ironically familiar? B.K. OBENG-DIAWUOH BARDSTOWN, KENTUCKY -- USA Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.