EDITORIAL: The Shape Of A Scandal
Throughout world history, the scandals that assumed international dimensions, started through the inability or unwillingness of, particularly public officials, to be forthright in their responses to very simple questions from the public. Scandals assume monstrous dimensions, only when there are attempts to respond promptly to a pressing desire from the public to know about specific matters, and the information is not forthcoming, or when after parts of it get into the public domain, there are attempts to cover up. Over the past fortnight, there have been attempts to explain away issues concerning the purchase of a hotel building, close to the house of the President, by persons including the President's eldest son, John Addo Kufuor. Even though the President's son has denied earlier reports that he is the sole owner of the property, except for 40% shares, he failed to disclose who the other shareholders are. Last week on Joy FM radio news, the Executive Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Professor E. Gyimah-Boadi, added his voice to the call for a full disclosure of the faces behind the purchase of the property, to put the matter to rest, and cautioned that anything short of that would not be good enough.
The unfortunate thing is that the continued withholding of information on the matter, is making it impossible to know what to treat as rumours, garbage or the truth.
Already, a person who purported to be speaking for the President's son, had roped in the President, as the one who advised his son to purchase the property! If the President has been mentioned as mooting the idea for the purchase, then it would not be out of place to ask how his interest in the acquisition influenced the whole transaction leading to the acquisition.
Another person, who was said to be assisting the government in our investment drive, also yesterday morning spoke on Radio Gold's news review programme via phone, stating that she had led a negotiation team for the acquisition, on behalf of the President, claiming she even has tapes on the negotiations!
The questions that have been raised, border on the involvement of national security, possible conflict of interest, arm-twisting, and the presidency itself.
The matter therefore ceases to be as simple as a President's son, who does not hold any public office, acquiring private property.
For the sake of the public offices involved, it would do us all a lot of good, to have whatever doubts may have arisen because of the available information, properly cleared, to restore whatever damage it might so far have done to their image.
One thing that the Chronicle would want to assure the Presidency of, is that failure to respond to this simple demand from the public expeditiously and comprehensively too at that, would lead to it assuming a scandal of a monstrous dimension that may threaten the presidency itself!
The only way to prevent that from happening is to expansively disclose all information surrounding the acquisition of the property, in a matter of hours from now!