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18.11.2012 Feature Article

Not you too, Tony Aidoo

Not you too, Tony Aidoo
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It is a great pity that our elected officials in Africa appear to have abandoned all sense of ethics and morality. To them all that matters is legality.

So long as something does not appear to breach the laws (which they drew up, lest we forget), it is considered OK.

As things stand now, people see politics as nothing but an avenue to loot state properties. We have the sad situation today where we go to great length to borrow money for development.

Our officials expend big chunks of these loans into building mansions for state's officials. They also use part of it to buy the best 4*4 jeeps money can buy. Parts of the loans also go into paying the astronomical salaries and emoluments they crafted for themselves.

Little thought is given to providing basic services for the hoi polio. Our taps are still dry and electricity generation and distribution is still a big challenge, so much so that where I live we sometimes get four hours of electricity a day.

At the end of their four years, our officials will get juicy ex-gratia pay-checks. As though that were not scandalous enough, they will also get to buy the state properties allocated for their use at thieving.

The new boys on the block will blame the old guards as corrupt infidels and make loads of noises and threaten fire and brimstones.

All is shakara, as they say in Nigeria.
Before long they also will think that it is their turn to eat.

That in a nutshell is the story of governance in our Africa.

In the article I wrote to condemn the Chief Justice of Ghana for her unethical behavior in acquiring state's land, 'Can the CJ spell ETHICAL?' http://www.swans.com/library/art16/femia48.html

I wrote, inter alia: “I don't know who her advisers are, but those who advised (mis-advised in my opinion) the Chief Justice to release that capricious statement did her a terrible dis-service.

It is best to shut your mouth and let people wonder whether or not you're a thief than to open it and remove all doubt.

Madam CJ's statement revealed a pathetically amoral soul with absolutely no capacity for ethical or moral consideration whatever.

To her, it is all about legality, legality and legality!

Sadly, for our CJ, as long as something is legal, then it must be right.

But this should not be so. In our actions or inactions, thoughts should also be spared for the ethical dimension.

Sorry, Madam CJ, do you mean that your serving “this nation conscientiously for the past thirty-eight years as a public servant,” entitles you to engage in free-booting on government's property?

I simply hate it when I hear people like the CJ telling us how conscientiously they have serve Mother Ghana. We are all in our own little ways serving our country. And heaven knows that we have well-remunerated high officials like the CJ without their dipping their hands to loot from the government property.

HIPCed (Highly Indebted and poor Country) as we are, we still manage to pay our officials well – at least by our modest standards.

What exactly is Madam CJ talking about? Is she telling us she is a more deserving public servant than the poor farmer or the poor teacher both of whom are toiling under great deprivations to contribute to our nation's development? Did Madam ask herself since when the Government of Ghana become a land seller? Were the lands sold to the CJ and her fellow travellers advertised and disposed off according to laid down regulations? Was our CJ unaware that she was paying an unusually low price for her land in that part of our blessed republic? When lands acquired for government services were under-handedly sold off at thieving prices, where did our CJ expect the government to get the land when the needs arise, or is our CJ suggesting that the government will not undergo natural growth?

And she had the temerity to tell us about 'serving conscientiously!”

Kindly sing us another song, Madam.
She further said: “I did not acquire the subject matter illegally or through some other unorthodox means.”

I pray that Madam CJ is not suffering from inadequate grasp of Basic English as my dictionary defines unorthodox as “unconventional: failing to follow conventional or traditional beliefs or practices.”

There are well-laid-down rules governing the disposal of government assets, part of which I understand is that such sales must be publicly advertised.

What type of banana republic are we running when people can meet in secret and sell state properties to themselves and their cronies!

And Madam CJ is mouthing some effluvial about following orthodox path in acquiring her land. Madam should kindly tell us when and where the land she purchased was advertised. If it was not advertised, how did she hear about it?

It is sad when people like Madam CJ simply cannot get it into their heads that public service is a calling. It is sad indeed that those privileged to be called to serve their nation did not consider it great honor indeed. Sadder still when they consider it a way and means to loot their proverbial share of the national cake.

It was recently revealed that seventy-five (yes, 75%) of our national income is devoted to servicing the machinery of government – that is to pay concurrent expenditure like salaries and emoluments.

So, our blessed republic is left with ONLY 25% for its capital expenditure – roads, schools, hospitals and other infrastructural projects.

Do you now begin to understand why we are mired in seemingly intractable poverty quagmire? Do you now know why our leaders need to go around the world with begging and supplicating like common beggars? Do you now know why any announcement by the Japanese and the Chinese about grant always send our rulers dizzy with excitement? Do you now begin to realize why we are perpetual recipient of 'aid?' Do you now begin to know why we command no respect in any part of the world and why the other races keep looking down on us?

That is not all about the sad state of our affairs. Our elite (remember greedy bastards?) are not satisfied with collaring 75% of our budget for their comfortable upkeep, they still want a share of the paltry 25% left for our development.

How?
Remember that it is from the 25% that government must pay compensation for lands acquired for state's use.

So, when our greedy bastards (sorry elite) started parceling out these lands to themselves at simply ridiculous prices, they are literally stealing what belongs to the commonwealth.

Methinks that it is this culture of entitlement by our public officials that must be disabused. Why do our public 'servants' think that because; 'I have served my country, so I am perfectly entitled to loot her meager resources.'

We had a departing speaker of parliament, not satisfied with his whopping ex-gratia award, literally and figuratively stripping his bungalow of every item his thieving hands could grab. No sanction was imposed on him. A departing minister also bought his official residence for a song; today he chairs one of our major parties!

Our MPs 'serve' for four years and believe that they deserve ex-gratia to the tune of 800million cedis.

According to Madam CJ: “In order to protect the high office of the Chief Justice of the Republic of Ghana, I would like to relinquish my interest in the plot of land under reference.”

Methinks that this is simply not enough. By purchasing government land under very questionable circumstances, the CJ has severely compromised her ethical authority. The government of Ghana is not a land-seller, period. Madam CJ, like any other Ghanaian, should know better whom to approach when in search of land to buy.

How, on earth, does Madam CJ expected to be taken seriously whenever she pontificate about the virtues of honest living. Does she still expect to be taken seriously when she admonishes people about crime not paying? How would she adjudicate in a land dispute when she herself is a beneficiary of a dubious land deal?

While it might be true that she breaches no law in acquiring the land, she patently breached the ethical standards her high office demands. Her behaviour might not be strictly illegal, it is certainly not ethical.

And this is precisely where the CJ's problem lies: Her lack of capacity to either comprehend or appreciate the ethical dimensions of her judgments reveals a person whose moral standards are questionable, to say the least.

“Ethics (Greek ethika, from ethos, “character,” “custom”), principles or standards of human conduct, sometimes called morals (Latin mores, “customs”), and, by extension, the study of such principles, sometimes called moral philosophy.”

And what was Madam CJ trying to tell us when she wrote: “this is the only piece of land that I have acquired from the Lands Commission, for which reason I have supplied my full maiden name to enable the facts stated to be verified.”

I guessed she expected Ghanaians to dance with joy because she had acquired only one piece of government land.

Sorry, Madam CJ, I refused to see the logic of your argument. I wonder how you'd treat a criminal who plead in your court that he had stolen only once. And pray, what was Madam CJ trying to do by employing her maiden when she was a married woman!

Land is a highly prized finite commodity and a visit to our court houses will reveal heart-breaking stories of land cases stretching back to time immemorial.

There are serious allegations that many judges had received parcels of land over which they sit in judgment. How do we expect to get impartial judgment from such judges? And our judges expect to continue to receive our adulation!

The big question Madam CJ fail to address is: Was it right for you to surreptitiously buy government property?

Sorry Madam CJ, but it is not the frequency of your UNETHICALLY acquiring government property that is worrisome: it is your failure, as the Chief Justice of Ghana, to adhere STRICTLY to the rules and procedures of how government's properties should be disposed off.

It is your lack of moral etiquette that is most baffling. Your action might not be illegal but it is grossly unethical. And it is your inability to distinguish between illegality and unethicality that is making your holding the position of the Chief Justice of our blessed republic quite untenable.

I will, once again, advice that you advice yourself about the ethicality of your continuing to hold your current exalted position.

You may quote all the law books to support your position, but on the ethical or moral scale, you simply have failed, miserably.”

Sadly, the CJ did not heed my advice to resign her position; she is still there. And if anything the primitive acquisition of state properties have increased. The latest is the saga of Dr. Tony Aidoo.

According to those that knew him very well, Dr. Tony Aidoo was a Marxist-spewing left-leaning, no-nonsense university don who's very fond of his cigarettes.

He reportedly tooled around Kwame Nkrumah University campus in an ancient jalopy and appeared not to have other ambitions than to trudge it out as a lecturer until retirement.

Apparently his Marxists rhetoric caught the fancy of then President Rawlings who plugged him from obscurity to fill the position of a deputy Minister at the Ministry of Defence.

He was not distinguished in that capacity and left office when the term of his boss ended in 2001.

Little was heard of Dr. Aidoo again until the late Beloved President Mills dragged him to the Castle and seconded him as the Head of the nebulously-tiled Policy Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the Presidency.

It was a position that appeared to fit our erstwhile Marxist perfectly.

Like every petty bureaucrat, he quickly cut a niche for himself, made himself relevant, pushed papers around and at the end of the month collects his juicy pay that benefits a presidential staffer.

Occasionally, Dr. Aidoo emerged from his obscure office to vent his anger at the opposition. At times he roared like an Old Testament Patriarch whose children have disobeyed Jehovah. He spared neither the low nor the mighty in his vile invectives against corruption and other vices. He bellowed angrily whenever any opposition dare criticize the government.

Generally, Dr. Aidoo cut the picture of a pious, self-righteous and upright man totally against all and every evil and vices.

He was said to have personally led agents to retrieved state properties from former officials of the NPP.

Dr. Aidoo was recently in the news demanding that President Mahama named those he considered 'babies with sharp tooth and evil dwarfs,' whom President Rawlings reportedly said were the Greedy bastards that cause confusion in the ruling party and are busy looting state's resources.

There were no reports that the president ever answered him.

Then, the communication team of the NPP did the nation proud by releasing documents that showed that the self-righteous Dr. Aidoo was not so incorruptible, after all.

Addressing a news conference in Accra, a Deputy Communications Director of the NPP, Mr Sammy Awuku, accused Dr. Aidoo of buying a Ford Expedition for 6,200. Mr. Awuku said the car, which was part of former President Kufuor's fleet of official vehicles, was bought on auction by Dr Aidoo and the money paid to Shargaw Ventures, a licensed auctioneer.

According to him, the deal smacks of corruption as the vehicle was released to Dr Aidoo at a “ridiculously low price".

Six thousand, two hundred cedis is, of course, a steal for that type of vehicle, auction or no auction. I recently sold my 2001 Opel Astra Estate wagon for 6,500!

In his defence, Dr. Aidoo lame excuse was that the said vehicle was in “a very bad condition," and that: “I am not the one who took the decision to scrap the car...and ordered its public auction. I am not the one who valued the car and set the price on it.... So where arises the conflict of interest?” he asked.

Tchaah!
I did some Googling and discover that the average selling price Ford Expedition 2005 in the USA is US$13,294: http://www.motortrend.com/cars/2005/ford/expedition/pricing/

We then have to add the shipment/freight and the duty price to get the actual price it could have been sold in Ghana.

The paltry 6,200 Dr. Aidoo paid will hardly cover the Duty alone.

His claim that the vehicle was in bad shape could be true but could not have depreciated to the level where it could be sold for that ridiculous amount.

And maybe Dr. Aidoo needs to talk to his auto-mechanic as automatic vehicles do not have gear boxes as he claimed.

But the real problem here is that Dr. Aidoo like those who have partake in looting state properties can simply not grasp the unethicality of their actions. They cannot see the conflict of interests in buying properties of the government in which they serve.

This is the real tragedy for the country.
It is sad for the country when we have people like Dr. Tony Aidoo being caught in the web of corruption against which they have vociferated so loudly not too long ago.

It is equally sad that the President did not deem it fit and proper to fire his errant aide as soon as the story of the scandal hit town. That action alone would have put the president in the best of light and would have send the strongest message that this indeed is the president that meant what he said about fighting corruption.

By firing Dr. Aidoo, President Mahama would have deftly stolen the thunder from the opposition.

Dr. Tony Aidoo was reported to have once said "hena na edaho na honey so go na noa wantafere" to wit: "who will not lick it if honey falls on his/her tongue?”

And this was the same man who said he felt scandalized when President Rawlings accused some in in his party of being sharp-toothed greedy bastards and evil dwarfs!

Femi Akomolafe
Femi Akomolafe, © 2012

The author has 236 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: FemiAkomolafe

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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