REJOINDER: Manasseh’s Folder, Prof. Yankah And The Ugly Flagstaff Monkeys
My good old friend Manasseh Azure Awuni,
It appears you have not departed from your love for writing articles since your days as a student activist and I have noticed that you been very busy over the years writing many articles on diverse subjects much to the admiration of readers. The most recent one that triggered this rejoinder is the article in which you upheld the flawed and disjointed views of Prof. Kwesi Yankah on corruption and likened some appointees at the Flagstaff House to some proverbial ugly monkeys.)
Ever since you published that article, a lot of tongues have been wagging with fierce criticism of your reference to government appointees at the seat of government as “ugly monkeys”. Some of your colleagues at Multimedia have justified your choice of words, saying you were only being metaphorical for a rhetorical effect. Your critics have been lectured on the use of figures of speech and told to revise their senior high school literature study notes. Is it not interesting that the same vanguards of figurative expressions took the President and other appointees to the cleaners for less serious remarks. Well, four legs good, two legs bad, I guess.
Well, I believe firmly in the biblical truism that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. A person's choice of words only reflects his psyche and state of mind at the time those words were uttered and I have no doubt that your so called metaphorical figure of speech actually portrays your current emotional state, character and upbringing.
Of course you have the right to criticize the government on any subject of your choice. However, since the use of such harsh literary devices are acceptable by your own standards, I suggest you take a very long, good look at yourself in the mirror every morning, and compare the image you see to that of the appointees at the Flagstaff House. I am sure you can easily tell who looks more like an ugly monkey without much difficulty.
Nevertheless, your misdirected choice of figurative expression is not the reason for this rejoinder. Rather, it is the apparent contradictions, ridiculous inferences, mischievous distortions and shallow analysis which are obviously noticeable in your article, which has prompted this response. I will deal with your porous article shortly but let me say that, ordinarily, I will not bother to write a riposte to an errant journalist, except when the journalist in question is a one-time winner of the coveted best GJA award, who also doubles as an old acquaintance doing a lot of reckless damage to himself at an alarming rate without realizing it.
Manasseh, I thought that when a young man attains such a feat very early in his career, he will move on to raise the standard of journalism and serve as a role model for others to follow suit. It is a pity that you have done just the opposite of what many people expected you to do. The level of retrogression and pettiness is so frightening that the least I can do is to point them out to you through this rejoinder. Now, the issues:
BALNCE OF $ 4 MILLION DOLLARS LEFT BY HON. ELVIS AFRIYIE-ANKRAH IN THE SPORTS MINISTRY'S ACCOUNT:
Manasseh, you referred to a rejoinder by the Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah in which he declared as a matter of fact, that he presented evidence to show that out of the USD $9,417,024.87 which he received from government for the World Cup expenses of the Black Stars, he left a whopping Four Million, Four Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand, Fifty Nine Dollars and Fifty Nine Cents (USD $ 4,444,053.59) in the Ministry's account as at the time he exited and there is no contrary claim to this fact. I believe the Minister had to forcefully make the point of the balance he left behind to dispel the concocted lies and unnecessary suspicions of financial malfeasance in the World Cup saga.
Now, in your indecent haste to treat the Minister's claims with contempt, you ended up engaging in a blatant shallow analysis devoid of any evidence. You indicated in your article that your suspicion is that “the budget for the World Cup was inflated. The intention was to loot and share that money at the end of the tournament.” Suspicion you say? Is that the new kind evidence based journalism or you invented it to highlight your malicious intent and incurable frustrations? Are you not embarrassed with such baseless misgivings?
Your assertion is very laughable and lacks every ingredient of sound logic. As an award-winning journalist, you don't need to crack your brains too much to know that the reason for the huge balance at the end of the World Cup was not due to an over bloated budget. We all know that the BLACK Stars team exited from the one-month tournament after only the first round. Therefore, all other expenses which the team would have incurred had they qualified for the next round of the competition will be saved. This is what accounted for the huge balance. If the team had stayed longer in Brazil, that figure would have reduced due to more expenses. My friend, this is common sense! You don't need too much mental effort to deduce this.
Again, you asked whether those who drew the budget were “heavily drunk that they mistakenly inflated the figures?” First of all, a little education on how the budget was approved will help to cure your intended mischief. The GFA presents a budget to the Ministry of Youth and Sports which is scrutinized by internal auditors, Chief Director and thee Minister, before it is submitted to the Chief of Staff for further scrutiny. The budget is then presented to Cabinet, chaired by the President for much more inquiry and subsequent approval.
Of course, the figures were not and could not have been inflated, and those who drew the budget were definitely not drunk.
Do you now understand why Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah left so much money in the Ministry's coffers after the World Cup? Well, if you do, then I am glad you have woken from your drunken stupor into reality. If you still don't understand such a basic explanation, then I wonder what kind of substance you consumed to have gotten so heavily drunk!
Manasseh, still on this subject, you wrote in your article that “when the spotlight was put on the ministry and it became clear that every pesewa spent would be subjected to strict scrutiny on live television, there was no option but to return the rest” of the World Cup money. I don't want to believe that you were really serious with this statement. What makes you think that anybody can just dip his hands into public funds without repercussions?
Are you are not aware that even in the absence of a Commission to probe the World Cup expenditure, the Auditor-General will conduct a mandatory audit into the accounts of the Ministry and issue a report? At least, I am aware that not too long ago, you copiously quoted from reports of the Auditor-General as evidence of malfeasance in some state agencies. May be for the purposes of embellishing your mischief and misleading the unsuspecting public, you have now forgotten about the role of the Auditor-General in public sector financial administration. What a shame!
THE GYEEDA INVESTIGATIONS AND ELVIS AFRIYIE-ANKRAH'S ROLE:
It is an undeniable fact that the Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah played a pivotal role in uncovering the rot in the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) and championing reforms in that state agency. Under the direction of President John Mahama, he set up a competent committee to investigate the allegations of wrong doing and the recommendations of the committee have led to the total overhaul of GYEEDA. The agency now has a legal framework with a proper administrative structure to prevent any leakage.
But wait a minute! Did you write in your article that “Joy FM uncovered massive corruption in that state agency”? Have you not enjoyed enough false glory and taken undue credit in this GYEEDA matter? What investigations did you conduct to unearth the malfeasance in GYEEDA? You only profusely quoted excerpts of the Auditor-General's Report which first drew attention to the anomalies and yet, you have never given the Auditor-General that recognition and credit. That is not even my focus in the GYEEDA affair. I am more interested in the lies and misleading information you put out as far as the investigations with respect to Zoomlion is concerned.
You posited that “when the committee started its work and ordered that all payments to service providers of GYEEDA be suspended with immediate effect”, you have “evidence to prove that Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah went ahead to approve payments to Zoomlion Ghana Limited. This is a misleading statement laced with malice. Readers will recall that at the time this investigation was going on, Zoomlion was playing a critical role in sanitation which had become a topical issue with cholera and malaria on the ascendency. The payments made were to enable the company pay its staff so they continue to provide services in sanitation, so that such an essential service will not grind to a halt.
Mr. Manasseh Azure Awuni, you told a blatant lie when you wrote in your article that “Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah is not clean in his handling of the GYEEDA rot”. You also alleged that despite the recommendations of the committee he set up to investigate the GYEEDA affair, he still went ahead to “renew Zoomlion's contract with the same outrageous terms.”
In the first place, Manasseh, Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah NEVER renewed any contract with Zoomlion. In fact, the contract on sanitation and all others were submitted to the Attorney-General for advice. A competent team led by the Attorney-General reviewed the contracts and gave sound advice appropriately. Therefore, he could not have possibly been the one to renew any contract in the Ministry.
THE JUSTICE DZAMEFE WORLD CUP COMMISSION REPORT
Manasseh, you mentioned in your article that you “don't know what Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah knows about the Justice Dzamefe report that the rest of us don't know. But he appears very confident that the report will vindicate him.” The question is why should the Minister be worried about the report when he knows he did nothing wrong? It is only a guilty conscience which will be afraid of the contents of the report. It appears you are either shocked or worried the Minister is unfazed with the numerous spurious allegations and personality attacks on him. If that is your worry then you will be bothered for a very long time.
Any serious post-mortem analysis of the World Cup saga will show that something does not just add up. A lot of mysteries seem to be unresolved. There was an obvious element of sabotage against Hon. Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah coupled with a lot of media terrorism. Mr. Manasseh Azure Awuni, have you forgotten about your own article titled “Insider Accounts Of Ghana's Shameful Brazil 2014 Debacle” ( http://www.myjoyonline.com/opinion/2014/July-2nd/manassehs-folder-the-insider-details-of-ghanas-shameful-showdown-in-brazil.php ) published on myjoyonline on the 2nd of July, 2014 in which you wrote that the former Youth and Sports Minister appeared to have been sabotaged because he set up a committee to investigate the GYEEDA scandal? What happened between 2nd July 2014 and December 2014 when you started this anti-Afriyie-Ankrah campaign? It is amazing how you have mastered the “Kwaku Ananse” craft of speaking from both sides of your mouth!
I also read a portion of your article where you mentioned that “cases such as the E-volution International's kickback scandal uncovered by Joy FM did not come up during the commission's sitting”. First of all, the Commission's doors were never closed to you so what prevented you from sending your so called evidence to the Commission for investigations if indeed it was not cooked evidence? Again, you conveniently failed to mention that Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah challenged the authenticity of the document you were parading around as evidence of a “kickback”. Your attention was drawn to the fact that a comparison of the signatures on the payment vouchers indicated clearly that the so called voucher written in the name of the minister was forged; and that the supposed cheque numbers on the two invoices bore serial numbers ranging from 031 to 081, implying that on that same day, that small company had issued fifty different (50) cheques – a situation which was not possible. You deliberately overlooked all these discrepancies. Why didn't you mention them in your confused article?
I also remember that when the case of forgery was reported to the police by the management of Evolution International and you were invited, you failed to honour the invitation. Let me remind you that you may have gotten away with suspected forgery of documents which is a criminal offence, but that is only a momentary respite. There is no guarantee that that case will not be revisited.
Mr. Azure Awuni, you also mentioned in your article that “Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah was mentioned in that scandal but the president did not find it prudent to order further investigation into it.” You really seem to have a very high opinion of yourself. Have you become such a megalomaniac? So you really expect the President to open investigations into your frivolous allegation with forged documents? Really? Let's be serious in this country!
Are you even aware that one of the staff of the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) whom you mentioned in that allegation was actually investigated by the company? As a serious journalist worth your salt, have you bothered to find out the outcome of the investigations conducted by GNPC into this bogus allegation of yours? If you have, can you tell the whole world what the findings are? If you haven't, what does that say about how serious you take your work? Are you only interested in making unsubstantiated allegations?
PRESIDENT MAHAMA'S FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION:
Manasseh, you have accused the President of doing very little in the fight against corruption. You stated that “President Mahama and his administration have lost the battle against corruption” and that “no sector seems to be working or growing apart from the corruption industry.”
In the case of GYEEDA, are you not aware that the committee set up by the then Minister of Youth and Sports was under the directive of President John Mahama? Are you not aware that officials who were deemed to have engage in wrong doing have been put before a competent court of jurisdiction? Has the mess in GYEEDA not been cleaned up? Can you name any member of any former President's political party who was ever put before court to answer questions of alleged financial impropriety?
Have you heard of the malfeasance and corruption uncovered by the BNI in the National Service Scheme under the directive of President John Mahama? Is the President currently ensuring that the loop holes that allowed for such leakages to occur are blocked?
Your judgment on the President cannot be seen as fair and honest especially when you have refused to even acknowledge that a lot of effort is being put into the fight against corruption.
COMING TO EQUITY WITH UNCLEAN HANDS:
Mr. Manasseh Azure Awuni, one would have expected that in your critique of the President as waging a feeble war on corruption, you yourself will exhibit a high sense of morality and uprightness in all your dealings – both public and private. Regrettably, you have woefully failed in living an upright life especially in your private life. Sometimes, I wonder why you easily forget that some of us know you too well. The fact that we have decided to be quite does not mean we cannot expose you.
Manasseh, you are not clean one bit! Your hands were and are still dirty; they were tainted long ago when you were a Central Committee Member of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) and a General Assembly Member of the Ghana Union of Professional Students (GUPS). If you have forgotten, let me refresh your memory by reminding you of the role you played in the 2009 NUGS Congress held in Kumasi. I won't disclose further details but those of us who were active in student politics in that era are aware of your dual character.
In recent times after you started working with Joy Fm, you were heavily compromised whiles investigating some issues of corruption within some state agencies. I know of personal favours that you sought and got for your family members and yourself as payment to seal your mouth and dry up the ink in your pen.
Yet, you have become one of the loudest critics on corruption. I have particularly decided to be silent on your very stinking deals simply because I don't gloat over other people's misfortunes. I am sure you know too well not to dare me to speak.
But I can assure you that a time will come when others who know what I know and more than I know about you may not watch you any longer in silence as you take the moral high ground with so much hypocrisy.
Manasseh, a lot of people may not know why you portray yourself as a sanctimonious anti-corruption investigative journalist. But, I will tell the whole world about your motive.
Apparently, your whole life ambition is to work one day with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and one of the important criteria used in the recruitment or poaching of journalists from Africa into the BBC is that you must have a rich history of unearthing and fighting corruption in your country. This explains why you have desperately tried to claim credit for all the investigations of alleged malfeasance in GYEEDA and SADA; and you have put all these on your resume – smart move. It also explains why you are always quick to publish alleged acts of corruption in government, some of which have backfired in your face and greatly embarrassed you.
Again, many people know that you revere and respect the late Komla Dumor so much but they also don't know why? Your admiration for him is borne out of the same ambition – working with the BBC. Komla Dumor was the lead crusader into the corruption allegation against the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SNNIT), having first aired details of the corruption allegation on Joy Fm in the year 2000. The case went before the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) before proceeding to the court of law. That story and several others shot Komla Dumor to fame in Ghana before being poached by the BBC.
Unfortunately for you, Manasseh, Komla was a worthy and reliable partner in fighting corruption who attached a lot of professionalism to his work with clarity of thought and conviction, which eventually helped him to set the bar for journalism very high. In the case of SNNIT, he appeared before CHRAJ to testify as the lead witness for Multimedia and Justice Emile Short, who was the CHRAJ boss at the time, recently spoke highly of him.
Can the same be said of you, Manasseh? The answer is an obvious NO! You could not even honour a police invitation to help investigate an allegation you made on radio yourself. So incorrigible! As for the other motives you have for shouting about corruption every day, I will leave that for another time. Too many cooks might just spoil the broth!
There is a saying in Akan which translates literally to mean that when there is a cotton wool in your backside, you don't jump over a raging fire. Unfortunately, you have not paid heed to this adage and you have been jumping over gargantuan blazing flames with a huge cotton wool stuck in your backside. In my language, there is an adage that if you go to bed with an itching anus, you will wake up with smelling fingers. My brother, your fingers are stinking!
You have the right and an obligation to fight corruption and I will be the first to support you every step of the way. However, fighting corruption is not synonymous with running other people down simply because you have the privilege of radio and an online news portal which regularly publishes your articles.
Fighting corruption is not a venture for self glory at the expense of the reputation that other people have built for themselves with their sweat and blood for decades. It is not about fishing for non-existent documentary evidence and publishing same with very cynical motives. I sincerely hope you will learn some valuable lessons and take some useful advice from this rejoinder. Until we meet again, please grow up!
**The writer of this rejoinder is a former national student leader and a social activist.**
His email address is [email protected]
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."