End These Judgment-Debt Payments

General News of Saturday, 20 April 2013

Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

A news report published by Ghanaweb.com and sourced to JoyOnline.com on March 7, 2013 announced the immediate freezing of a judgment-debt payment to Isofoton, the Madrid, Spain-based company which specializes in the development of solar energy. About two-and-half years ago, Isofoton won a verdict by default. I interpret the foregoing to mean that the government’s side handling the case deliberately failed to appear in court in order to protect the State and, in effect, the Ghanaian taxpayer, from being profusely bled into abject impoverishment.

At the time of the announcement of the judgment-debt freeze, the government had already paid a reported $400,000 (Four-Hundred-Thousand Dollars) out of an out-of-court settlement amount of $1.3 million. That the Supreme Court has finally decided to do the right thing, by intervening to stanch such unwise and nefarious bleeding of the country’s economy by crooked politicians, is all the more to be lauded. But that it took the highest court of the land so long to intervene, is all the more to be lamented. Still, it is better late than never.

But that Isofoton managed to have a Ghanaian-born Fast-Track High Court judge, Justice Obimpeh, to side with its unholy cause says more about the abject lack of a protective sense of patriotism among the ranks of the members of the bench. There is, of course, the letter and spirit of the law; and then there is the destiny and the greater good of the sovereign state of Ghana to be wisely and fiercely defended at all costs.

The preceding is not to blindly suggest that where the greater good and interests of the nation clash with those of an individual and/or corporate entity, those of the nation must be protected and upheld at all costs. Rather, the unvarnished contention here is that those entrusted with the development and sovereign integrity of the nation ought to be critically and civically responsible.

In other words, those who brought the country to this unsavory state of affairs must be held accountable for their stewardship. It ought not to be the case that the legitimately constituted courts of the land merely play the passive role of simply facilitating the payment of these debts which were incurred largely through gross administrative incompetence and parochial ideological whimsicality. The time for statemanly approach to governance is now, if Ghana is to meet its middle-income Millennium Development Goals.

To effectively ensure that this open season of deliberate political nihilism and self-alienation does not become a standard administrative fare, instead of the abominable exception that it veritably is, a real independent prosecutor with legal teeth and a well-funded staff of investigators ought to be named and afforded a clearly defined terms of reference. It also means that the most irresponsible politicians and public officials involved in this judgment-debt scam must be severely punished with commensurate prison terms and where appropriate, be made to forfeit some of their own largely ill-gotten wealth and private assets.

Needless to say, public service ought not to be made a shameless invitation to blindly rob the Ghanaian taxpayer. But that Isofoton could so readily cause the garnishment of the accounts of the Ministry of Agriculture, one of the most significant departments of the Government of Ghana, tells a lot about the level of abject dysfunction into which the nation has been sunk. It also reflects poorly on the level of intelligence of Ghanaian politicians and leaders.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D,
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
March 31, 2013
E-mail: [email protected]