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18.07.2005 Feature Article

Re: Otumfuor Education Fund: Where is my $50?

Re: Otumfuor Education Fund: Where is my $50?
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I have not written any comments onto Ghanaweb for quite a while because of my tight schedule as well as the fact that in many cases, what is going on in my dear country today under the name of “democracy” is simply appalling and in many cases not worthy of comment.
When I wrote questioning many issues including the legality of the purported investment of proceeds from the Otumfuor Education Fund in treasury bills through Databank Brokerage Ltd & possibly other brokers as well as the lack of accountability of the fund to anybody alongside the failed IPO involving a company, Golden Development Holdings Company Ltd (GDHC), I was castigated & vilified by a number of people within the public domain. When I raised an issue on the purported $5 million World Bank deal done by the Otumfuor, I received similar treatment from sections of the public.
Many are those who went as far as to infer that no one had any right to ask the Otumfuor to account to anyone as far as they were concerned because he was who he was and to them, incorruptible. Fine by them but unsatisfactory by my standards & I believe the standards of any well-meaning Ghanaian who seeks true justice for the society as a whole.
Fellow Ghanaians, it is a well-known fact that the most outstanding reason behind Africa's current predicament culminating in its current begging for debt –forgiveness from the international community has been “leadership failure”.
Ever since independence, African leadership has not been about service to the people but rather service to one's self. Our so-called leaders have rather been rulers, living at the expense of the people and making decisions that have not had any positive effects on the well-being of the society in which we live. They have treated & continue to treat the nation's wealth as their personal property; they have borrowed in our names and spent on themselves; in a nutshell, national interests have always been subsidiary to their personal interests. In cases where people have asked questions, they have been treated as outcasts and enemies of national progress & in many cases this has cost vigilant members of the community their lives & livelihood with summary executions & dismissals being the order of the day.
Today basic things like food, shelter, health & education are a luxury to the majority of my countrymen. Evermore young children are dying from hunger, starvation, deprivation & disease before the age of 5. For those that survive beyond this age, where lies their future? A life of continued pain & deprivation, full of disease & no meaningful education. People are being laid off everyday amidst claims by government that the economy is healthy & growing. Pensioners in Ghana today live in a sorry state of poverty hastening their journeys to the grave. Where do we trace all this injustice to? The doorstep of leadership!!!
Today government agencies are practically useless to the direction in which our country should be moving in the new millennium. We have a Ministry of Labour that has no accurate data on how many people are either employed or unemployed in the country today. The Ministry of Health has no proper independent data on the national birth & death rates as well as the effect of various kinds of diseases afflicting the population. The least said about the Ministries of Finance, Education, Mining, Lands & Forestry, Harbours & Railways and all the what nots, the better.
Our leaders ever since independence have ruled us with impunity rather than lead. They have refused to account to anyone for their stewardship & have deemed any attempt to call for accountability an attempt to destabilise the country thus leading to consequences I have already stated above. As we also witness in Ghana today, any attempt to call ex-government officials to account leads to them & their cronies calling themselves “political prisoners”.
I read Kojo Poku's piece (13th July 2005) without surprise because of my knowledge of the nature of leadership in Ghana from independence till date. I mean, the Otumfuor & obviously the masterminds of the fund had no intention of accounting to anyone regarding the donations to the fund & what they were to be used for. This is clearly evident from the fact that the website Kojo Poku visited had not been updated probably since it was set up years ago. We were all expected to just walk into Manhyia or any of its appointed outlets & give to the fund out of our “sheer respect” for the Golden Stool & the Ashanti chieftaincy institution. This “respect” for the Golden Stool & chieftaincy institution was to prevent us from coming back to ask what was actually done with the contributions. There is also no doubt that some donated as a means of buying influence at Manhyia which would likely lead them to the seat of government at the Castle, Osu judging from the ethnic link between the Otumfuor & the current president which undoubtedly gives the Otumfuor political sway at the Castle.
A few months to a year or so after the Kuffuor government took over from a previous 20-year period of abject & institutionalised corruption; I was roaming the streets of London on a trip when I walked into a Ghanaian shop. After making my purchase, I collected my change which included a £5 note. The owner of the shop, pointing at a rickety-looking box, then promptly asked if I would consider contributing to a Ghana Police Service fund then being used by the new government to raise funds in its so-called attempt to better equip the police. I said yes and asked how the process was going to work. The owner of the shop explained that the minimum contribution was to be £5. When I asked if I was going to get a receipt for my contribution, he said, no as it was a sacrifice we were all being asked to make to improve security in our dear Ghana and wondered why I was asking for a receipt for performing such a duty. As you may imagine readers, I was taken aback and further asked this gentleman, how I would know if my contribution would actually reach the police service in Ghana, to which he promptly replied that I could only take his word for it. Of course as you may guess, my hard-earned £5 note had started protesting vehemently against any attempt to place him in the box and I had no option but to duly oblige its protests & save it for a rainy day. And indeed, rightly so, till date, no proper account has been rendered to anybody as to how much was realised from that exercise not to mention how much was spent and on what it was spent.
The culture of non-accountability in the fabric of Ghanaian society has since time in memory come right from the top. I can place my finger on the government white paper released during the JJ Rawlings era that sought to absolve the likes of PV Obeng, Ibrahim Adam etc. from any accusations of corruption & abuse of office emanating from the findings of the Commission for Human Rights & Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in the 1990's as an example of Ghanaian government's track-record of refusals to admit its failings in governance. There are many countless examples of government, in those 20 years of mis-rule, using all necessary means including violence to refuse to account to the people when they asked questions.
Today, as a point in question, what do we see regarding the Hotel Kuffuor issue? With all the denials put forth by government & its officials as well as some of its paid mouth-pieces, I personally believe & know that many Ghanaians also believe that the only thing that will clear the air once & for all regarding this multi-dimensional scandal is for the president or his son being involved to produce all necessary “independently verifiable” documents regarding the purchase transaction. This would simply clear the air once & for all. I mean, rationally, if the Kuffuors have nothing to hide, why all the “ballyhoo”? Simple; produce the documents regarding the financing of the transaction alongside any other relevant ones & shame the so-called “gullible and mis-informed” Ghanaian press.
Kuffuor as president of Ghana today with regard to the hotel saga, is flatly refusing just like his predecessors to accede to common sense & be accountable to the people beyond any reasonable doubt. He has directly or indirectly attempted to block any quest for information that would enable the people to clarify matters for themselves. Yet, this is the same man campaigning on the international scene for Ghana's debt to be written-off. But without proper levels of accountability, I ask; what is the use of debt-forgiveness when the monies could so easily end up in the pockets of the corrupt politicians all over again? Come to think of it, as a Ghanaian, I have a strong incentive to campaign against any such thing as debt-forgiveness for my country looking at the impunity with which our so-called leaders run the affairs of state.
This small piece in reaction to that written by Kojo Poku, is also to point out to the Otumfuor that, he must always be mindful of his oath to the Ashanti people that paved the way for his ascension to the Golden Stool. In his oath he spelt out in no uncertain terms his unequivocal promise not to do anything to bring shame & disrepute to the stool or institution bequeathed him by his fore-fathers as by doing so he will only be dragging the name of the Ashanti nation & its proud people in the mud. From the track record so far, of activities emanating from the Manhyia palace, especially regarding financial dealings, that oath is indeed hanging on a very thin thread. Over to you Kojo Poku. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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