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10.04.2007 General News

No Cross, No Crown

To me a major lesson of a Good Friday and Easter is that sacrifice is as glorious as a crown. Like most Ghanaians, I let my head down during the Easter holidays. But I believe we should also pause a little and reflect.

A lot is wrong in our society and the meaningful life is threatened. But things cannot be put right if none of us is prepared to pay the supreme sacrifice, if necessary, to redeem a life of greed, corruption and indifference.

It is not easy, for example, to write a clear report stating that the Akosombo Dam level is falling and that the Volta River Authority's (VRA) production of electricity should be reduced, otherwise there would be energy crisis in a year's time.

If you are the head and you press authority to take action, you may be shunted aside or sacked by politicians who do not want to act for fear of the reaction of the crowds.

But that is the cross both the official and politician have to bear if they value true glory and not a crown of the earth which withers and melts.

I wonder what drives our public today. Are they aware of the cross a leader must bear? Ghana is full of competent men and women, and members of the Cabinet and government are no exception. But I am surprised that so many have thrown their hats into the ring of the Presidential race.

Is it so easy to be a President? Do we regard the position as a sacrificial one or an opportunity for grandeur?

In any case, I wish the aspirants well. They are more courageous than I am.

I wonder, however, whether they find it a reproach to their “religion and government to suffer so much poverty and excess”. And the excess of the lawless and corrupt becomes more glaring at Easter time. How would these aspirants deal with this and other problems?

If I were a delegate for the election of a presidential candidate, before I vote, I would like to know how these aspirants would use all the institutions of the state to deal with the wrongs in society and move the country forward.

In particular, I would ask them to state how they would see to it that officials and technical experts paid to run institutions and projects do their duty. The President cannot do their work as the incumbent is apparently being forced to do.

One example will suffice. The Daily Graphic on Tuesday, April 3, 2007 carried a story captioned: “President unhappy about CMS sell-out”.

According to the story, “TICO, a joint venture between CMS Energy and the Government of Ghana, represented by the Volta River Authority (VRA) owns and manages one of the two plants of the Takoradi Thermal Power Station at Aboadze”.

“CMS Energy, which owns 90 per cent of TICO, is in the process of selling its interest in the company to the Abu Dhabi National Company (TAQA), but the Ghanaian government is completely oblivious of the sell-out”.

President Kufuor complained that CMS Energy did not notify the Government of Ghana of its intention to offload its interest in TICO.

Mr Tom Edward, the President of CMS Energy, however, explained that “under the regulations of the Security Exchange Commission of the USA, the company was not allowed to disclose its intentions to offload its interest until the deal had gone through”.

“The President, however, disagreed with Mr Edward arguing that CMS Energy was a registered entity in the country and, therefore, it was governed by the laws of Ghana”.

I am not sure whether the laws of Ghana enjoin CMS Energy to make the closure. The President is a lawyer and knows the law far better than I do. But I do not think he should have been made to enter into a contentious discussion with a foreign company's director in public.

His officials and civil servants should rather do that. Besides, what Mr Edward said about the US Security Exchange Commission regulations is known or should be known to the Ghanaian officials who drafted the agreement between VRA and CMS.

Did these officials make government aware of the implications of the agreement? Or were they ignorant or incompetent?

Furthermore, President Kufuor is reported to have said that, “Given the fact that the thermal plant was of security and strategic interest to the government and in view of the partnership agreement between the two entities, CMS Energy should have notified the government of its intention to offload its interest in TICO.”

Now, if the thermal plant is of security and strategic interest to government, why allow CMS to own 90 per cent of the joint venture?

So far as I am aware, even under our own Company Law, the majority shareholder has the final say in the running of the company unless there are specific agreements to the contrary.

Authority should insist that officialdom gives effect to its policies, especially in agreements with foreign entities.

It should not take too much on itself even with the help of trusted collaborators.

Private enterprises and market forces may well hasten the growth of the economy. But we should understand how they work.

We should also know that just because we name an investor or a donor a development partner does not mean that the partner will look after our interests.

We have the whole army of officials and technical experts working under the direction of our elected representatives to protect and promote the national interest.

Our leaders, especially the President should not be overworked and exposed to the manoeuvres of foreign experts.

Do those who aspire to leadership after President Kufuor learn from him and from the past? Is their aim the supreme national interest? Will they work with the institutions and officials of state to achieve desirable results? Will they rely on selected cronies to promote personal and parochial interests?

I am afraid their efforts to win the glittering time-bound presidential crown will only be of benefit to themselves and to the nation if they are prepared to bear the cross of service and sacrifice.

Article by K. B. Asante