The Presidents blunder


God is my witness that I have nothing personal against Alhaji Muhammad Mubarak Muntaka, the disgraced ex-Minister of Youth and Sports in the government of President John Evans Atta Mills.

Unfortunately, I have everything against the spirited, but indiscreet, immoral, and shocking defence of the former Minister by President Mills, the very person who reportedly accepted his resignation.

President Mills may have concentrated on tax law, but he could not have completely forgotten everything he learnt about criminal law.

Hear President Mills in his scandalous backing of his former Minister: “Which Minister has not spent money on his girlfriends?”

Again, “Are we saying that this is the first time ministers of state have traveled abroad with their girlfriends? Is this the first time ministers have infringed the law, have spent state money on themselves? How many have the courage to resign on acts of indiscrimination?”

As far as President Mills was, and is still concerned, what Alhaji Muntaka did, was not an offence for which he deserved condemnation and punishment, but a mere act of indiscretion.

In Shakespeare’s play, MEASURE FOR MEASURE, Isabella, pleading with the acting Duke to save her brother from execution for fornication, asks the acting Duke, “Who is it that hath died for this offence? There’s many have committed it.”

In our own history, General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, at a press conference before his later execution, rhetorically posed the question, “How many of you here sleep with your wives only?” in answer to the allegation that he had spent state money on girl friends of his. He was executed for that, among other charges.

That executed former military Head of State was not a lawyer. In fact, his critics, enemies and opponents were contemptuous of him for not proceeding beyond commercial school education at the Royal Commercial College or ROCOCO, for short. He did not claim to wear a saintly garb when it came to a display of moral rectitude.

It is President Mills who studied law all the way to a doctorate, and taught the subject for over twenty-five years, rising to the rank of Associate Professor.

It is Professor Mills who has had the accolade of ‘Asomdweehene” (King of Peace) and “Mr. Clean” conferred on him by his supporters and admirers.

Were his words those of a person supposedly morally cleaner than a whistle just produced from a factory, or more morally upright than a grand piano?

This man, who reportedly refused bribes, at least twice, this man who will not receive gifts for fear of being corrupted, indulged in sophistry, chicanery, humbug or a clever argument to try to pull wool over our eyes, by telling us that his ex-minister was only indiscreet, but otherwise committed no offence. Is that so?

In the first place, if President Mills was satisfied that Alhaji Muntaka was a victim of conspiracy, then why did he accept his resignation?

Hear this from the government’s statement on the report from the National Security, and signed by Mr. Mahama Ayariga, the Presidential Spokesman: “The President is satisfied that the Minister’s actions on cutting down on waste and curtailing frivolous expenditure are what incurred the displeasure of some officials of the Ministry, and caused them to gang up against him. The President commends the Minister in this regard.”

How fair or reasonable was it for the President to dismiss or accept the voluntary resignation of this fine, self-less and patriotic Minister, whose only fault, according to President Mills, was to clean up his Ministry, by fighting a battle against wrongdoing? Is that how honest men of integrity and incorruptibility should be rewarded?

But, not the inconsistency and confused state of the President’s mind. The statement goes on to state, regarding the relationship between the ex-Minister and the woman who did not work at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, but was reportedly working for Honourable Alban Bagbin, the Majority Leader, as follows:

“His Excellency the President, is dissatisfied with the conduct of the Minister in his decision to embark on the German trip with Ms. Edith Zinayela (is the spelling correct?), and in particular his decision to apply for a visa for her in circumstances that amounted to a mis-description of her official position.”

More: “The decision by the Ministry to pay for Ms Zinayela’s visa fee was equally improper. It was an error of judgment on the part of the Minister, for which it is hoped that all other appointees will learn.”

The statement went on to state that the President had accepted the Minister’s resignation, as well as his offer to “make good to the state all liabilities incurred on account of Ms. Zinayela’s trip to Germany, including the cost of the visa fee.” Case closed!!!

It is interesting and revolting to note how President Mills choose to treat such a serious offence and great moral wrong, as nothing but a “mis-description,” or a mere act of “indiscretion?”

In the eyes of the law, what the Minister did amounted to the offence of deceit of public officer through fraudulent misrepresentation.

The ex-Minister obtained the visa for the woman under false pretenses. He told a lie, the German Embassy believed the lie, and consequently issued a visa, an action the German Embassy would not have taken if it had the facts. How can President Mills, a lawyer and so-called Mr. Clean, so light-heartedly treat such a serious offence, by describing it as an “indiscretion”?

If it is of any consolation or interest to President Mills, let me state, as I always do when I discuss moral issues, that if I had lived at the time Jesus Christ threw a challenge, I would have been the first to throw my stone away, instead of hitting the woman.

In other words, I can never be an example of moral rectitude such that my place in heaven is secure. But, I also say that only human beings have a moral yard-stick for measuring our conduct. I remove the mote from your eye, you remove the beam from mine, and we can both be a bit more morally clear-sighted.

The Embassies and the High Commissions act on the assumption that every visa application is a crook trying to enter their country through fraudulent misrepresentation, forgery of documents and other crimes.

Says the British High Commission: “There are high levels of forgery and fraud encountered in Ghana, relating to the production of tampered-with documents.”

When a Minister indulges in fraudulent misrepresentation, can you blame the Embassies and High Commissions for thinking that every visa applicant is a crook? President Mills, I am ashamed at your defense of wrong-doing.

Credit: I. K. Gyasi/Chronicle/Ghana