MANASSEH’S FOLDER: The craziest presidential appointment
Dear President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,
I have not touched base with you this year because certain tight schedules have kept me busy I have lot of outstanding issues to discuss with you. I wanted to send you my new year’s message. Then on the 7th of January, I felt a strong urge to write to you on the first anniversary since you took office as President of our dear republic. I have been too busy and a bit lazy to do that, but your latest appointment has relegated all other businesses to the background. And I cannot resist sending you this letter.
I have written in the past and told you how disappointed I was with your handling of some issues in our republic, mainly the madness of your party’s vigilante groups, your appointment of 110 ministers and deputy ministers, the irresponsible attitude of your government towards the Kumasi Academy deaths and the manner in which you dealt with some allegations of corruption in your administration. Your handling of the BOST scandal left much to be desired. And the indiscretion of your visit to Jospong and unfortunate statement you made there, did not go down well with many well-meaning Ghanaians.
Mr. President, my disappointment over these issues, which I wrote strongly about, is not because you have lowered the bar of governance, generally speaking. It is because the standards to which I hold you are higher than that of any other leader in our fourth republic. I’m not alone. I know many Ghanaians who have said, “If Akufo-Addo fails us, then we are doomed.”
Those disappointments notwithstanding, I have had moments to be proud as a Ghanaian since you took over the affairs of Ghana. For the first time since you took over, I have decided to point out some of these issues in the area of corruption and encourage you to do more.
It was clear that you and your government had agreed that former President Mahama should keep the official residence of the Vice-President as he had demanded. But Ghanaians objected to it. Your government listened. And when the former President realised it was becoming too embarrassing to hold on to that request, he withdrew his interest.
The issue of illegal mining or galamsey had become a national security threat. The government did not act because politicians, chiefs and other powerful individuals were deeply involved. When the media launched a serious campaign against galamsey, you listened. They threatened to vote against you in the next election if you stopped them, but you called their bluff and launched Operation Vanguard. The fight against galamsey is being taken more seriously than ever.
Mr. President, one of your greatest achievements, was your insistence that the fraudulent tow levy contract be discontinued. Knowing the kinds of forces behind that deal, it was a moment of enormous victory those of us opposed to it when your government listened to the protest of Ghanaians and directed that the law backing it be repealed and the contract discontinued.
The ridiculous and exorbitant first aid kit which the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) forced motorists to buy also raised serious protests from Ghanaians. Your government said you did not know about it, and went ahead to stop it.
Recently, the state broadcaster got the Chief Justice to set up special courts to prosecute people who default in the payment of TV license. The TV License law is unjust and its enforcement is senseless because the state broadcaster we have in Ghana has outlived its usefulness. GBC does not present itself as a serious media house that deserves a pesewa from the citizens. GBC has more resources than any broadcaster in Ghana. GBC also has quality staff. But the station is not just serious. GTV was showing drama when all the major media houses were airing the crucial ITLOS ruling on the maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. This same GTV was showing a beauty pageant when other private stations were broadcasting the gas explosion at Atomic Junction. GBC is like a man with a strong waist and a huge and healthy manhood, who does not know how to satisfy a woman. It is not wise to invest in viagra as a solution to such problem.
Your government distanced itself from the GBC, saying you were not consulted on GBC’s recent actions. The Corporation has relented in that relentless step.
Former President Mahama recently lambasted you and your government for always saying you’re not aware of issues when they happened. But I see it differently. It is embarrassing and your government ought to punish the officials who take the scandalous decisions. Besides that, however, your government appears to be a listening one. on a number of occasions, you have proven to be sensitive to the criticisms and the concerns of the people you govern.
When I wrote an article criticising you and your vice for leading an entourage of ministers to Asantehemaa’s funeral twice in one week without paying a visit to Kumasi Academy in the wake of the deaths, the Vice President visited the school the following day.
When the first part of my investigative work on Jospong’s shady contracts with the assemblies and the Local Government Ministry first aired, I received a call from your Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Gloria Akuffo. She said her ministry was interested in taking up the matter.
“I suggest you wait because this is only one angle and the first part of the series,” I told her.
“We cannot wait,” she said.
She told me she wanted the police to start the investigation as soon as possible so that as the other angles unfolded, they would take up those ones too. That same evening, I had a meeting with the Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service to discuss the scope of the investigation.
From what I know, the police have covered a lot of grounds in their investigation and what is yet to be seen is whether your government will have the political will to go ahead with the prosecution of those culpable in this case.
With these and other successes your government has chalked, I feel it is only fair that I congratulate you on your first anniversary while reminding you that Ghanaians are not satisfied, especially in the area of fighting corruption. I have written extensively about the specific cases in my previous letters to you so there’s no need repeating them here.
In my last letter, I talked about the fact that your body language did not present you as someone who was serious about fighting corruption. Yesterday, however, you did something that communicated the desired body language. I’m talking about your appointment of Martin A.B.K. Amidu as the Special Prosecutor.
I have always maintained that the Office of the Special Prosecutor will be as strong and credible as the people who will be appointed to occupy it. Martin Amidu has demonstrated enough courage and commitment to fighting corruption. He was sacked as Attorney-General when he started tightening the noose around the neck of Alfred Woyome, who had illegally received payment of over GHS51 million as judgment debt from the state.
Martin Amidu went to court as a private citizen and, with his own resources, fought and won the case for the state. He is also known to have pursued other such cases in the interest of the state, which have won him high commendations from the Supreme Court of Ghana.
When the Office of the Special Prosecutor came up, I thought Martin Amidu was a good candidate for that office, but I least expected that you would appoint him.
I felt Martin Amidu was too “crazy” and people within your own party would be uncomfortable with having such a “mad” man to police corruption. Martin Amidu is not a member of your party. He did not spare his own party when they tried to shield corruption. Like the proverbial crocodile which eats its own eggs, the flesh of a frog does not enter its mouth with any form of sympathy. Knowing what goes into political appointments, my conclusion was that you could not go for such a “crazy” fighter who would not hesitate to hold your own people accountable.
But yesterday, you proved that are “crazier” and “madder” by appointing Martin Amidu as Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor. The applause from well-meaning Ghanaians is unanimous. A few disgruntled voices dissent are pointing to the fact that Martin Amidu is not neutral. But that argument is lame. As far as I am concerned, there is no politically neutral person in this country. We all vote. The judges, police, soldiers, and even officials of the Electoral Commission vote. It is our duty as citizens and one is not expected to be neutral.
As a journalist who exposes corruption in the government, I cannot claim to be neutral. I am not one of those who claim not to care about which political party governs Ghana at a point in time. I will not even claim to be voting for the smaller and harmless political parties. I vote for the two main political parties in whose regimes I work. In every election, since 2004, I have voted and had my preferred political party.
That has not stopped me from doing my work. And it should not stop any sensible person from doing what is right because of which party they vote for. In practice, the neutral person may not exist. If someone is neutral enough not to care about who and how Ghana is governed, then that person does not qualify to hold any serious public office.
So Martin Amidu does not need to be neutral. He needs to be fair and firm. He needs to be incorruptible. He needs to be a difficult person, a hard nut to crack. He needs to be someone who cannot be easily manipulated or bought. His party affiliation is not necessary. When it comes to corruption, the NDC and NPP are tarred with the same brush and the line between them is blurred. In my line of duty, I have come to realise that the NDC and NPP are more united than the Holy Trinity when you put the spotlight on the major corrupt persons in the country.
Martin Amidu is your best appointment. His appointment is your greatest Achievement. His appointment is your strongest statement yet that you’re committed to fighting corruption. But that’s not enough. The battle has only begun.
Appointing Martin Amidu will be meaningless if he does not get your support and backing. His office needs to be funded. His office will need the independence to function. And you’re key to the success or otherwise of that office.
The biggest thieves in our republic often run to powerful chiefs, religious leaders and so-called statesmen to intervene when the law catches up with them. The corrupt traditional rulers, and religious leaders who have no sense of shame will call you to drop the cases. They will give all manner of reasons ranging from ethnicity, the affiliation and support of the corrupt people to your party and their so-called influence and contribution to the society.
Mr. President, if you succumb to those dumb reasons and allow the fraudsters to go unpunished, our republic will be doomed. And your legacy will be in tatters. If you stand your ground and allow the law to follow its course, you will be hated by the thieves and their influential accomplices, but the ordinary Ghanaian will sing your praise. Even those who will hate you will respect you. And Ghana can be saved.
Finally, always keep in mind that the fight against corruption is a lonely battle. Psyche yourself to walk alone. And always remember how you came into office.
The two major words that your party used against your predecessor were “incompetence” and “corruption”. The problems confronting our nation are basic ones. They don’t need the brains that manufactured spacecraft to solve them. The incompetence is brought about because of greed and corruption. A wise person can take foolish decisions because of selfishness and greed. According to the renowned Zimbabwean entrepreneur, Strive Wasiyiwe, “Mismanagement and corruption are identical twins. Where you find one, the other is always nearby.”
Your government ended 2017 on a bad note. Your appointment of Martin Amidu has raised your ratings. Continue this way and let’s see something meaningful. This is the change Ghanaians voted for. And it must not be a nine-day wonder.
The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a journalist with Joy 99.7 FM. He is the author of two books “Voice of Conscience” and “Letters to My Future Wife”. His email address is [email protected] The views expressed in this article are his personal opinions and do not reflect, in any form or shape, those of The Multimedia Group, where he works.
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Manasseh Azure Awuni and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.