It is one thing to be corrupt, incompetent and ignorant, and sandwiched in foolishness.
It is another, when the wilful actions of politicians, out of spite and unsubstantiated suspicion, cause the state to lose millions of dollars at a time when the government struggles every day to make statutory payments. This is the time when the language of Shakespeare runs out of all superlatives.
I have always harboured doubts about the aggressive hammering of the government by the main opposition party – New Patriotic Party (NPP), regarding the downward spiral of the economy. The Bankswitch debacle has aligned their position in perspective. It has finally subjected the inner operations of the Mahama administration under the electron microscope, and exposed a malicious cancer called National Democratic Congress (NDC).
About three years ago, if someone had mentioned the name Woyome, I would have said what! Not anymore. Now, ask any toddler, you and I can be certain of a comprehensive definition. Woyome, within the Ghanaian English lexicography, means loot and share. The name was forced unto our national consciousness by the controversial Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong. Since then, the dual word judgement debt has proliferated and flourished copiously to the distaste of any rational Ghanaian mind. Hardly a day goes by without a media house carrying fresh news about judgement debt. Currently, they virtually bloom like spring flowers.
Sadly, our shock also peters out with it, as they get sucked into the maelstrom of fast-moving news cycle. It has become so common; it appears we are losing our natural prophylaxis against their immorality. It will be understatement to suggest that it has become part of our daily diet. I am pretty certain some hardcore illiterate NDC supporters think it is part of the government remit to be paying judgement debts. Least l forget, the last time I checked there is a Ministry of Judgement Debt.
You will be living on a different planet to assume that Ghanaian politicians award contracts based on merit. It is the sorry state of our democracy. It is a suffocating millstone that is strangling our economy slowly. As much as I hate it, most rational Ghanaians have been able to come to terms with that sordid part of our politics. However, a buccaneering class of politicians, who are the godfathers of tongue-in-cheek governance, do not want to accept this shameful fact.
They consume our limited national cake voraciously and still want to have it. They simply want to have it both ways. I, personally, do not have the slightest use for any Ghanaian politician of all hue and ideology, because the word integrity is missing from their vocabulary. It is our ultra need for peace and order that we pay such a high price for their existence. My philosophy, as far as they are concerned, is based on the prosaic ideology of the lesser of the two evils.
The name Bankswitch crossed my radar in May 2010, when a ghanaweb contributor, with the pen name ‘The Enquirer,’ published a piece on ghanaweb entitled ‘Sabotaging Mills through Bankswitch’. I read the piece, and that was the first and last I personally heard about that name. It was a total shock to me, when I read again on ghanaweb that they have been awarded GHc197 million judgement debt.
I was, therefore, anxious the following day, when I turned on my television to have a further explanation on the issue, courtesy of the Joy News flagship current affairs programme – News File. For those who missed that episode, it is not too late, they can get it on YouTube. It will offer an inside knowledge on the sort of people we have in government, supposedly, helping at the Captain’s Bridge.
The programme started on the European Partnership Agreement (EPA) forum fiasco that the EU representative, Mr. Claude Maerten, was heckled. On that, I thought the way it was handled lacked finesse, though they had a legitimate grievance. So I waited patiently for more than an hour on the EPA, only to be confronted by a bombshell that I was totally unprepared for. I sat through the rest of the programme with a gaping mouth.
I could feel my entrails going cold, as the Deputy Minister of State for Information and Media Relations and Member of Parliament (MP) for Nantong, Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, sat on national television and lied through his teeth without the slightest sense of shame. The irony was that the person at the receiving end of his villainous act was sitting next to him. My shock came to a full circle when he was proven beyond all reasonable doubt by the host that he was not only being economical with the truth, but recklessly pushing at the boundaries of libel, he was still unfazed.
However, the foregone is not what triggered this piece. What solicited my time was the cowardice, or more appropriately, straw man’s grandstanding to justify blatant stupidity, and a neophyte corrupt government, besides their criminal incompetence. For well over four weeks, I have been struggling to open a window into his thinking. My effort came up with nothing, except the conclusion that all politicians are corrupt, but that of the NDC is bereft of diplomacy.
It was obvious that the NPP has a lot to answer, nevertheless, his application of legal semantics crafted to prove that the Bankswitch judgement debt was the fault of the NPP, flies in the face of moral and economic expediency. His emotional odyssey to the galaxies to prove the culpability of his opponent, rather than accepting responsibility for incompetence, tied them irrevocably to a plot.
There is an Akan proverb, which literally states: ’There is nothing we can do about what the birds have eaten; our preoccupation is to protect what is left.’ However, in the vigilante confused mind of the NDC political novices, it is let justice be done, and Ghana can go to hell. The antics of Murtala reveal clearly to the electorates the sort of calibre and characters we have voted to govern the country. They lack conscience and shame. I have become so cynical with their motives, borne out of Murtala’s performance, that even if they should offer their heads on a silver platter, I will take it with a limitless dose of caution.
Fundamentally, voters do not rationalise the squandering of the national purse based on legal technicalities, but whether everything constitutionally possible have been canvassed to save the tax payer’s purse. One of the main points he kept hammering against Dr. Akoto Osei was the fact that he testified against the government. On the other hand, there have been instances since the NDC came back to power, where government ministers, who are supposed to protect the nation’s purse, rather roll down the red carpet to expedite the payments of such suspicious huge amounts caused by their own startling incompetence.
When a murderer takes the life of your loved one, it is painful and abominable, but the constitution does not sanction vigilante justice. The accused will have to be convicted in a law court, based on the evidence available. In the absence of inadmissible evidence, gut feelings will have to be trampled on, and the accused, accordingly, will have to go scot-free. Let’s hypothetically assume that Dr. Akoto Osei had his hands in the national kitty. In that case, the constitution stipulates a fair trial. Ignoring that and going through trial by media brings to mind the film ‘A Time to Kill’. In the film, the main character opted for vigilante justice, and was acquitted on diminishing responsibility. Unless they want to tell me that they were all crazy when they took the decision to pull the plug, I am prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.
In its absence, was there no voice of sanity around the cabinet table to say don’t do this. What was the legal basis for their decision? What was the role of the Attorney General? Did they think about the alternatives? Did they rationalise the logical conclusions of their actions, since they were not dealing with automatons. They cannot hide behind the cloak of legality to dismember the tentacles of responsibility. Sometimes, it pays to say I was wrong; and I am sorry. This is all that Murtala and Amaliba needed to say to placate Ghanaians. It would have been more dignifying than trying to make a fool of themselves behind the screen of legal acrobatics.