• Continued from Tuesday, February 3, 2009 edition This brings me to the media hype that has followed the issue of the so-called malfeasance at the [email protected] Secretariat and the construction of the Golden Jubilee House.
In the early Nineties, when Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida annulled the freest or fairest elections ever held in Nigeria, he put in place the Interim National Government headed by chief Ernest Shonekan.
About 60 or about days after, General Sanni Abacha staged his bloodless coup with the connivance of Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya and Chief Moshood Kolawole Olabisi Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the 1993 presidential elections.
Six months into the Abacha's tenure, Abiola started demanding for his 'mandate' which had been annulled by the former dictator, Gen .I.B.B. The agitation gathered momentum so much so that by the middle of 1994, the Western part of Nigeria, particularly Lagos had become almost ungovernable. Amidst this entire hullabaloo, Abacha' second in command was incriminated in an alleged coup plot against Abacha.
Diya got the hint that he was to be arrested and made an attempt to escape.
But the Abacha's boys were too fast for him. He was arrested, handcuffed and taken to the dictator's house. There, he started weeping like a child. Abacha gave him a tissue paper and told him, “Dipo do not weep like a woman”.
This was captured on video and aired nationwide on television. There was also a video slot of Lt. Diya, prostrating before Major Mustapha, Head of Abacha's Security Outfit, and pleading with Mustapha to have mercy on him (Diya)
A whole Lieutenant General kneeling before an ordinary Major and pleading for mercy.
There was also the issue of Obasanjo who had earlier been incriminated in a previous coup attempt and now in custody of the Abacha's. Obasanjo was shown on air in handcuff being cross-examined by his alleged “accomplices”
Why have I narrated the above two episodes. I have done so with the sole purpose of unnerving the motive behind the action of the powers that be. They did that to humiliate the personalities mentioned in the write up.
The NDC Transition Team has adopted a similar trick. 'Let us fly the kite that these two people have done this and that so as to demonize the NPP Administration.
Let us humiliate them, let them get down on their knees, let them crawl and beg for mercy like Diya did during his encounter with Mustapha.
By so doing, their pride and arrogance will disappear'. As simple as that! By so doing an act of illegality has been committed. Yet people are saying we should keep quiet and say nothing on it.
The media hype will not achieve any purpose. All that we are saying is that let proper investigations be conducted first before we decide to crucify any person.
There is ample time to conduct all the investigation we want. After all, how long did the Tsikata case drag on? But we all waited patiently.
Let the NDC do things in a transparent manner. Let it not appear as if we were back to the AFRC and the PNDC era when people were summoned before the citizens vetting committee to give account of how they came by certain properties.
This write up will not be complete if I fail to offer any word of advice to Ghanaians who would be opportune to be appointed to serve the public. All should realize that power is transient and so we should not lord it over others if they find themselves in certain sensitive positions.
We should also realize that we would one day be asked to give account of our stewardship. The Bible and the Koran are emphatic on this.
Mr. Kojo Mpiani and Dr Wereko Brobbey had ample opportunity to explain to us how they spent the people's money entrusted into their care.
Wereko Brobbey who was directly in charge of the Ghana @ 50 Secretariat ran to Kojo Mpiani who stormed Parliament and dared it to do its worst because he had nothing to render to it. If the two had done so at that time, a report of the entire operations of the Secretariat and the celebrations would have been prepared and the ordeal they are going through might have been averted. But at that time, Mr Mpiani was Chief of Staff, the two felt on top of the world, just like Ampadu's song, “Biribiara nntumi yen” (nothing can touch or affect us). Now they have come to terms that “Biribi betumi won” (something can touch or affect them). It is good lesson to be learnt the bitter way.
I would be failing in my duty if I fail to comment on the action of Alhaji Mumuni, President Mills representative at the Ministry of Interior who is now the nominee for the Foreign Affairs portfolio..
Alhaji Mumuni had extended the curfew on Bawku Township for a period of time and it is this act of 'illegality' which has attracted the fury of the opposition NPP party and the support of the NDC.
No matter how one looks at it, this is another act of illegality on the part of the NDC Administration.
All of us are aware of the intricate problems in Bawku Township and its environs. But the law stipulates that it is only the substantive Minister or the President who can extend or impose a curfew in an emergency. It must also be borne in mind that it is Parliament which has oversight responsibility over the action of the Minister and can summon him before the House and question him for his actions.
But Alhaji Mumuni was not a Minister but was smuggled through the backdoor to perform an act of illegality. That was bad and not in consonance with the spirit of the Constitution.
The argument that there was no substantive Minister to perform such a role is neither here nor there. The argument also that there was not sufficient time to nominate and vet the Minister is also not tenable. The way out of this quagmire is simple. Let us adopt a non-partisan approach to the issue. Why not call a stakeholders forum to deliberate on the Bawku issue?
What I had expected the NDC to do in such a circumstance was to bring up the mater before the House and ask for parliamentary approval to have enabled the President's representative at the Interior Ministry to be given power to act in the capacity as a Minister. To every rule, there is an exemption.
I believe that Parliament would have waived that clause in the Constitution to enable Alhaji Mumuni to act on the crisis.
Even, after the “stranger” at the interior Ministry had acted illegally and unconstitutionally, the majority should have swallowed its pride and appeal to their colleagues on the other side of the political divide with words such as, “ Look pals, we know that what we did was 'illegal' But we were compelled to take that stance due to prevailing circumstances. Please, pardon us for we meant no evil. We took that action with the best of intention”. I don't think the other side would have prolonged the issue.
The House would have taken a holistic approach to the matter and ratify the illegal action of Alhaji Mumuni, albeit belatedly.
Another option would have involved the leadership of the House who would meet the Speaker and discuss the best way forward. Then, the Clerk of Parliament would summon Parliament to vet the nominee for the Interior Ministry under a Certificate of Emergency. A substantive Minister of Education would then emerge who would be in a position to act in consonance with the spirit of the Constitution.
In this wise, there would have been no winners and no vanquished and the country would have moved away from bi-partisan politics. But we allowed such a golden opportunity of arriving at an important decision by consensus to slip away from our hands.
In conclusion, let me repeat what Dr Tai Solarin, an Educationist and Social Critic said on July 15, 1991.
“I have chosen a path to tread and I have never veered or parted from that path. I don't look back to see if anybody is following me or not”. Let me also add what the late Attorney General of the Nigerian Federation, the Cicero of Esa-Oke, Grandmaster of Yoruba politics and proponent of “siddon look”, Chief Bola, said.
“Sometimes I fear for the country because of the imbalances within the country and the unwillingness on the part of some of our leaders to deal with these imbalances, straightforwardly and honestly.
Unless imbalances are squarely faced and dealt with, the future may be bleak. But I prefer to be optimistic”.
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