“Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. The story may be confusing, but the message is clear: no one took responsibility, so nothing got accomplished”, Lolly Daskal.
Every Ghanaian wants the other Ghanaian to be responsible, but he or she lives a care free life. The NAM1 drama unfolding and the lessons it is teaching us is nothing new. We have been here before and we will revisit it again in the near future. We make it so easy for people who want to take advantage of us to do so with no sweat.
A Ghanaian wants to be rich so quickly without working for it. In other get-rich-quick-countries, people spend time at work places from dawn to dusk, some doing more than one job, and earning a living. In Ghana, we want to do the opposite and yet want to live a lifestyle like people of substance. We have therefore resorted to short cuts, magical and spiritual means of creating wealth. We spend so much time at the church praying for riches from heaven. We are doing rituals for spirit beings to vomit cash for us. We want our deposits to multiply astronomically in a few months. Women want sponsors all the time from men.
Chief want foreigners to sponsor their communities. Men want to earn many folds of their monthly salaries in a single month through corruption. Our government open its arm helplessly for aids and grants. All the above help us to fall prey to fraudsters. NAM1 and his kingdom have had fertile grounds to breed because of who we are as people and as a society.
NAM1 was guarded by the state security in public. The police-citizen ratio in the country, Ghana is far below average, but the Ghana Police Service could assign several of their men to guard an equally ordinary citizen at the expense of hundreds of others at the mercy of criminals all in the name of riches. It is still wrong if NAM1 were doing a legitimate business. The picture of Nana Appiah Mensah is all over the place with him waving at a crowd on the top of his car whilst two police officers hang on both sides of the car.
About a dozen policemen were at the airport to receive NAM. It wouldn't even be surprising having more officers on the ground to secure a smooth passage of one rich man. Didn't we lament enough in this country when the military guarded a president's brother, an ordinary man like any other citizen? Lessons abound but we learn none of them.
NAM1 was given a red carpet at the airport with a cultural troupe on the tarmac and access to the VIP exit point. Ghanaians keep asking themselves questions on what could have warranted the red-carpet reception of an ordinary citizen in the nation's second largest airport? Does it mean that a rich Ghanaian is able to rent an airport and hijack all aviation activities for a moment? Wasn't it in the same country that an ordinary citizen smuggled cocaine through the only VVIP lounge of the only international airport? Oh, in Ghana, money buys laws. We nag, whine and become so grumpy about these ills in the society, but unfortunately, the rich are still above the law. Lessons abound but we learn none of them.
NAM1 was invited by the GFA to join their delegation to visit the president at the presidential palace. What made the GFA include NAM1 in their delegation to see the president? Were they going to seek the president's approval for him to sponsor the nation's premier league? Money blindfold institutional leaders in this country. We have witnessed chiefs enstool foreigners as royals in their traditional area, all in the name of money. In some cases, the very foreigners, whom the chiefs expected aid from, turns out to be conmen, rob them of their ancestral valuables and disappear. It is not strange at all in Ghana to have a departmental head kowtowing to the whims and caprices of a richer person. Lessons abound but we learn none of them.
NAM1 was given several awards at the expense of other genuine entrepreneurs who are contributing to the economy in their small, but unique way. We are in this country when miss Ghana contestants complain about factors for determining who wins the award. They claim contestants have to do something extra ordinary to win. There are a lot of perception about various awards in the country. Is NAM1's award confirming those perceptions? Lessons abound but we learn none of them.
NAM1 rose to the ranks of power brokers and the authorities of the land. Within a short time NAM1 was being worshipped from the lowest level of the society to the highest social class. He showed and spent money. Everybody wanted to associate himself with NAM1. He was sponsoring everything, and we invited him everywhere. In Ghana, as long as one is able to pay or buy for us, we ask no questions Our secret agents, who have been tasked to gather intelligence do not ask questions either.
In Ghana, somebody can be very rich overnight, buy houses, cars, deposit millions of cash at a bank and throw some in the air at public functions and no one invite him or her for questions. Even churches would invite those figures to chair their fundraising events. Show money and get to the top in no time. Ghana for you. Lessons abound but we learn none of them.
NAM1 received preferential treatment from the security agencies. We have been discussing how richer people pay security agents to mistreat poorer ones for decades, but no lessons have been learnt. The law enforcing agents forget the law and even common sense when it involves citizens with loads of cash. Was the way the security agencies handled NAM1 the best way of handling him? Self-recognizance bail for such an individual, who has the ability to be anywhere in the world within 24 hours?
We are in Ghana, where a bail is even quite difficult for tenants who have fights or exchange words in compound houses. Were decisions on NAM1's bail, too influenced by cash? So, this time again, no security official would be held responsible for their action, huh? It means this is repeating itself very soon and we would continue to wallow in vicious circle. Lessons abound but we learn none of them.
NAM1 was and is still worshipped by a fraction of our society. The worship of wealthy people in the Ghanaian society has been with us for a long time and shows no sign of dying away. NAM1, as opportunist, crafted a very smart way to show opulence and clear show of wealth to attract Ghanaians' attention. As expected, he was worshipped and was being idolized when the Bank of Ghana pulled the breaks. In Ghana, once one displays wealth, no one questions the source of that wealth including the institutions that have been established to do so. In some cases, the few Ghanaians who ask a few legitimate questions or get suspicious are deemed enemy of progress and are rebuked by the society. Lessons abound, are we learn from any of them?
NAM1 has become a political ping-pong and it was predictable. In some jurisdiction, the political parties would delegate experts to deliberate on how to prevent such perennial fiasco in our society. The difference in Ghana, however, is that the two main political parties take advantage of many ignorant voters by throwing jabs at each other. Perpetrators always know how to stoke this division among the political parties to play ping-pong with sensitive national issues and get away with their heinous crimes. As usual, the political ping-pong is being played fanatically and NAM1 and his accomplices may be gifted with an escape. Political ping-pong has thwarted efforts of state institutions in many cases. This one would not surprise Ghanaians if history repeats itself. Indeed, history has an interesting way of repeating itself. Lessons abound but we learn none of them.
In a country, where laissez-faire institutions abound, ponzi schemes have fertile grounds to breed. In a country, where we make it so easy for people to perpetuate crimes with impunity, ponzi schemes have fertile grounds to breed. Lessons abound, hope we begin learning them.
Eben Johnson – Finland
(Letters Without Signatures)
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