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07.02.2009 Feature Article

Pay Back Time Is Here. Do Not Bite The Fingers That Fed You.

Pay Back Time Is Here. Do Not Bite The Fingers That Fed You.

The recent imbroglio over the closure of the Peace and Live Rehabilitation Centre should not have reached such a crescendo if due process has been followed.

I have always been a believer in the right thing being done at the right time and a sticker to rules and regulations. And that is the more reason why I have an axe to grind with the powers that be on how they have handled the Maame Dokonoo's episode.

And, as I have already stated, there are more questions than answers.

In the first place, isn't it an insult to the intelligence of Ghanaians for the Social Welfare Department to be telling us that the license of the Rehabilitation Centre had expired since 2006? If the license had expired, what action did the Department initiate to get the situation normalized? Shouldn't the top hierarchy of the Department be sanctioned for neglecting to perform the duty for which they were duly paid? Doesn't it amount to causing financial loss to the country? Why should they collect money for no work done? So what have they been doing all these years? Staying in their offices practically doing nothing!

There is a proverb which says that “oguanten se osee abonten soa, nanso onnim se ne dua ho na oresee no” [the he goat feels it is spoiling the streets by defecation on it, but it doesn't know it is his tail he is messing.] The Department announced the closure of the orphanage with glee thinking that it has done a great deal of service to Ghanaians. I can imagine Chief Inspector Irene Oppong, Public Relations Officer of DVVSU and Steven Adongo, Acting Director of the Department of Social Welfare Department patting each other's shoulder after they had closed down the Love and Peace Rehabilitation Centre, smiling at each other and thinking that they have done the wisest thing on earth. But in actual sense, their action was 'the unkindest cut of all' (apologies to William Shakespeare] In fact, they ought to be court martial led for deli lection of duty.

Now, may I know on which charge the orphanage was closed down? Is it on account of expired license or the sexual acts which were alleged to have taken place at the orphanage?

Now, if it is on account of expired license, I have this to say. I have already indicted the Social Welfare Department and the Police for turning a blind eye while the laws of the country were being infringed upon with impunity. So if this incident had not happened, the Department would not have woken up from its deep slumber. The person who did not enforce the law and the person who refused to abide by the law are themselves guilty. Isn't it time we surcharged the staff of Social Welfare Department for collecting their salaries from the State coffers without doing the work for which they were paid?

And if may further ask, is the act of closing down the orphanage the best solution under the circumstances? If she had defaulted in renewing the operating license, couldn't the department have reminded her of her responsibility in that regard? We seem to be interested in taking punitive measures against offenders in the country, instead of corrective ones. By so doing, we end up killing personal initiatives of Ghanaians.
Let us not go back to the AFRC/PNDC era when individuals' enterprises were taken away from them without compensation on mere excuses that the owners had defaulted in their tax obligations to the state. But that was even better than shutting it down.
Mr. Siaw of Tata Brewery was compelled to go on exile for his failure to pay tax and he stayed outside and died in exile.

Now couldn't the Department of Social Welfare, in conjunction with the DVVSU of the Police and other concerned Ghanaians have initiated some legal move to ask Maame Dorkono to step aside while they run the facility until such a time that the public become convinced that it was safe to return the orphanage to its rightful owner? At least, that would have been a temporal solution under the circumstances. Remember how the Institute of Professional Studies was taken over by Government?

Yes, it used to be in private hands but when the students complained and the matter came to the knowledge of the authorities that the institution would be better managed under state control, the necessary and relevant acts were put in place and today IPS can hold its own against any Professional Institution anywhere in the country.

This brings to mind the quixotic act engaged in by some element which within the Nigerian Armed Forces during the General Mohamadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon's era.
Some soldiers had found some hoarded fuel in big tanks buried under the ground. You know their solution? After digging them out, they opened the holes on the sides of the tanks and spilled away the contents. That is the black man for you. Couldn't they have confiscated the fuel and put them into better use? But you see those soldiers, myopic and with little minds that they have, they did the unthinkable.

And I ask the question, is closure the best solution under the circumstances? If Odorkono has infringed on the laws of the land, why, she must be made to face the full rigours of the law. I have no qualms about that. I have said it and I will repeat it over a hundred times. If any NPP member is found to have embezzled state money, I will not stand between the laws to twist the hand of justice. I will ask that she/he be put before the law courts. I will not say it is political victimization and I hope our brothers on the other side of the political divide will adopt a similar stance.

But I cannot sit down unconcerned and watch helplessly as a Ghanaian citizen is being persecuted for his or her stand on some political decision of the powers that be at a particular time. And as Rawlings himself said, some of us started fighting injustice right from our childhood and this is where such “rebellious sprit” has led us. And even though, such a stand has not put a cup of tea/ a pot of soup on our table, we are grateful to our maker for endowing us with such “gift”

The scenario appears to depict a well-orchestrated plan to show the Odorkono woman where power lies. It might be just mere co-incidence but the innuendos are not lost to people.
The Department of Social Welfare and the Police Establishment deny any element of victimization because they are both performing their constitutional functions. But is it mere co-incidence that Maame Dorkono orphanage happens to be the first to fall under their hammer? If they want to sanitize the system, where are the criteria to be used in determining which ones should go and which ones should go. At least, the public deserves to know.

Can someone give me answers to these posers? The incident occurred during the period Mame Dorkono was out of the country. The report I got is that, it was such incident that prompted her to cut short her visit and return to the country. She was the one who took the children to the hospital, investigated and brought in the police to carry out an in-depth investigation into the case. If indeed, she did all these without being prompted by any one, doesn't she deserve a little bit of courtesies from the police? She had, on her own volition gone to the Police, taken the victims to the Hospital and done all that lie within her power to ensure that an in-depth investigation is carried out. To the best of my understanding, she had not conducted herself in a way to give the impression that she had impeded Police investigations into the case. Wherein lies the need to use “maximum” or was it minimum force to effect her arrest? Do the Police have to raid her orphanage in a commando style, reminiscent of AFRC/PNDC and Abacha's Nigeria? No, this was too much. What about the publicity that accompanied her arrest? What was the purpose of sending police photographers to the place if it was not to humiliate her? How often do the police go to the house of a person to take photographs of the person at the time of his/her arrest?

The Police claimed she resisted arrest. Granted she did, but did they have to exhibit such brutal force to show her where power lies? She told them they should go and she would follow up with her lawyer. What is wrong with that? At least she had co-operated with the police until then. And so the best the Police could have done under the circumstances was to give her the benefit of the doubt and return to the station. If she did not report at the police station within a reasonable period of time, then they could go there and show her where power lies.

I would like to use this medium to advise the police that we are all human beings and that one day they, like those of us who are civilians, would all be expected to appear before the judgement throne of God to give an account of our stewardship. What account are they going to give before the All-knowing and seeing God? Are they going to tell God, “Lord, you see, my job demanded that I use every means to ensure that those who break the law are hounded before the court of justice. At least that was my job while on earth and I did it to the best of my ability”. Over-zealousness like the Pharisees and the Sadducees will not help this nation to move forward.

No matter which way one looks at the whole incident, one thing is clear. It is pay-back time for Maame Dorkono who rode on the back of the NDC to fame and later on ditched the party. This is a bitter lesson to all human beings not to forget the moral repercussion of our actions. Do not bite the fingers that fed you. It is as simple as that.

I recall vividly a similar incident involving The NDC hatchet man, Tony Aidoo. The Police knew he had a gun whose license had expired. They raided his house and in a commando style arrested him and hauled him before the courts. “Ananse yee me, na me nso meyee no” It is like saying, “you do me, I do you” thing.

All said and done, inspite of the subtle realization of political undercurrent in Madam Odorkonoo's travails, I would advice my colleagues in the Great Osono Fraternity to exercise caution in their re-action s. We must admit that, the person we are 'fighting' for has breached the laws of Ghana, the country we all claim to love and cherish. And if you breach the laws of the land, you must be prepared to face the consequences. Establishing an orphanage without a license or operating such a facility without approval should be condemned in its entirety. I don't think a person of Maame Dorkono stature should claim ignorance. We of the NPP have been very vocal of NDC's attempts in doing things without recourse to the constitution. What is wrong is wrong. Our latter-day disciple,
Maame Dorkono, whose real name is Grace Omaboe, has fallen foul of the law. She should keep quiet and take her punishment or ask for mitigation in her sentence. It might be political victimization, but all the same, she has committed an offence and must be punished. One walks cautiously in the midst of his/her enemies. That is one of the most important cardinal principles of life. Madame Odorkono should have realized that.

Do you remember Marion Jones? Yes. What did she not do for the United States? Quite a lot. She won laurels both at home and abroad for her country. But an infringement of the laws of her country sent her to jail. She had lied under oath when she was being investigated on her alleged use of steroid. She was stripped of her medals and sent to jail. She made no noise about her plight. She rather wept for letting her fans and country down. She did not allege she was being victimized on account of her colour. Neither did the blacks in the country allege she was being victimized. This is the way things are done in civilized countries. Let us do things in a transparent manner so that others might not read meanings into our actions. After all, “Caesar's wife must be above suspicion”.

The above goes for followers of both political parties. When the NDC was in power every action of the NPP government was deemed as political victimization or persecution. Now NP is adopting a similar posture. And this will not help our country. The courts are there to resolve disputes and legal issues. The fact that you lose a case in one court does not mean that the judiciary has been bastardized or politicized. There are many good, genuine and God-fearing judges who will not compromise their stance under any circumstance.

Listening to Mame Dorkono's incoherent statements and responses to some questions thrown at her made me feel pity for her. Every sentence she uttered did not make her case better. Rather, it worsened her plight. Knowingly keeping a deviant child who could turn himself into a “pharmacist” and administer concussions to other children without letting the authorities know what was happening within her “household” was tantamount to aiding and abetment of a crime. Then operating a facility without approval is another issue altogether.

Does Maame Dorkono have the case history of the child? Who brought the child to her? orphanage and at what age? These and many others are questions we should ask. That is why at the beginning of this piece, I stated that there are more questions than answers.By the way, did she use her facility to solicit for funds? If she did, don't you think a proper auditing of her establishment ought to be conducted to ensure that she had not use the Love and Peace Rehabilitation Centre to “fleece” the unsuspecting public of their “goodies”. Were proper records of daily transactions at the Centre kept? The Public deserve to know.

I would also like to refer to numerous comments on the issue by some Ghanaians. Some have alleged that facilities at the Centre were sub-standard and that the staffs were poorly motivated. Why did such people not bring up those things until now? By their silence and inaction, they have abetted in the commission of a crime against the children and adults in the country. Let us sanitize the system by speaking out anytime we notice something is amiss than wait for tomorrow when it might be too late to do anything.

By the way wouldn't the closure of the centre affect the psychological upbringing of the children? Some parts of my body, especially my mind tells me that is not the solution. The courts in some countries have ruled against the forcibly removal of some animals from their natural habitats. What about the small child from Cuba whose relative he was traveling in a canoe to the United States died but the boy got to a relative in the United States. What did the courts say to that? I think the court in the United States ruled that the boy be sent to his step father in Cuba and it was done. These children have been together for sometime. Can't they remain together in one orphanage or something instead of being “distributed” among various orphanages around the country like criminals/prisoners been sent to different prisons? It is degrading and will affect their psyche.

All that I have been re-iterating is that we must be circumspect in our actions whether at the governmental or individual levels. We must, in taking decisions, not give opportunity for others to suspect that there is an ulterior motive behind. To this end, I call on the Acting Inspector General of Police to call her ranks and officers to order. Let them act within the confines of the law. Let the police treat all citizens equal.

Maame Dorkono, the Police, the Department of Social Welfare and all of us have one way or the other erred. Some, by lack of supervision or shirking of responsibilities, and others, by their stony silence. And the country has indeed suffered for it. Let us put politics aside and ensure that Ghana becomes the country our forefathers dreamt of.

Daniel Danquah Damptey
E-mail: - [email protected]
Tel. No: - 0243715297

Daniel Damptey Danquah
Daniel Damptey Danquah, © 2009

This author has authored 286 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: DanielDampteyDanquah

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