Ebo Barton-Odro is not one name that excites the Ghanaian in the fight against sleaze, cronyism and outright corruption.
The Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North attracted much negative publicity the other day, when he declared live on radio that the state of Ghana ‘has no case’ in its endeavour to retrieve the GH¢51 million state cash doled out to Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
In plain language, the former Deputy Attorney-General was telling Ghanaians that the man described as the financier of the National Democratic Congress was legally entitled to GH¢51 million of state money, doled out to him in that sordid deal christened by Mr. Justice Jones Dotse, sitting at the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ghana, as ‘create, loot and share.’
Last Tuesday, Mr. Barton-Odro was once again in the news. As First Deputy Speaker of the August House of Parliament, he was accused of walking out of the Speaker’ Chair when the Minority insisted that there were problems with the way a 27.8 million Euro loan facility from a German Company for the supply of heavy duty equipment had been laid before the House.
The Minority claimed that the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development ought to have signed the documents before being laid in the House, and not the Chief Director of the ministry.
Secondly, Members on the Minority side of the House, wondered why a private Ghanaian company should be listed in the agreement, when the agreement was a straight deal between the Government of Ghana and the German company, GP Guenter.
This, according to members of the Minority, was what might have irked the Deputy Speaker to abandon the Speaker’s Chair, creating a vacuum in the House, until the Speaker, Edward Doe-Adjaho occupied it a while later.
In his official complaint on the floor of the House, Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said: ”Mr. Speaker, I am sad and worried about the future of this House.” He said never in the history of Parliamentary proceeding in Ghanaian Parliamentary practice, had a Speaker abandoned the chair.
In his closing remarks, delivered just before the House rose for the Easter break, Mr. Mensah-Bonsu said it was unfortunate that Parliament, which ought to encourage consensus building, was rather becoming a polarized institution.
“Either side is suspicious of the other in the conduct of most businesses that come before us. Transparency is being sacrificed on the altar of political convenience, as meetings after meetings are held at the blind side of the other,” Mr. Mensah-Bonsu lamented.
We are told that the Speaker, Mr. Doe Adjaho, had to apologize for what was described as un-Parliamentary behaviour of his First Deputy.
For me, as a social commentator, the issue ought not to be laid to rest. I believe there is more in the august House than meet the eye. At a time the state is pilling on the debt and forcing the economy into serious recession, this is one opportunity for Parliament, representing the state of Ghana, to investigate the behavior of state agents, whose actions and inactions contribute towards the naked rape of the economy.
This nation is sinking and pretty fast. Corruption is eating away the very fabric of this society and conspiring to deplete all state resources. Last Wednesday, the Bank of Ghana held a press conference in Accra and painted a very gloomy picture of the state of the economy.
According to Dr. Kofi Akpenamawu Wampah, Governor of the Bank, public debt as at the end of February stood at GH¢55.6 billion. At the time late Prof. John Evans Atta Mills fumbled his way to the podium, to be inaugurated as President of the Republic of Ghana, the total debt standing in the name of the Republic of Ghana, was GH¢8.9 billion.
One does not need to be a mathematical genius to work out that in the five and a quarter years that the NDC has mis-managed this nation, as much as Gh¢46.7 billion debt has been added to our debt stock.
Dear reader, ask yourself this simple question: How many industries of any type has this moribund administration established in Ghana, to merit saddling this beautiful country with this huge debt? This country is in for serious trouble, I dare state.
According to the Bank of Ghana Governor, this nation’s international reserve has fallen from $5.6 billion at the end of 2013 to $4.7 billion, as at March 28, this year.
“The imbalances in the fiscal and extension sectors, together with continued uncertainties in the external environment, exerted significant pressure in the domestic currency in the first quarter.
The bad news is that the cedi would continue to fall. “The local currency depreciated by 17.6 percent against the US dollar in the first quarter of 2014, compared with 1.1 percent in the corresponding period in 2013,” Dr. Wampah stated.
That is not the end of the gloomy picture that the Bank of Ghana painted of the economy. The Central Bank Governor told Ghanaians that against conventional wisdom, which enjoins any human institution not to spend more than the resources at hand, this moribund administration continues to overspend. The result is the continuous whittling away of resources of state.
In January and February this year, the government spent as much as GH¢4 billion, while its total income, made of total internal revenue and external grants, amounted to GH¢2.3 billion. We need no motivational speaker to pontificate on this clear case of lack of proper house-keeping.
To add insult to injury, we are keeping a state treasury leaking like a sieve. For instance, while total deficit stood at GH¢232 million in the first two months of 2013, Ghana lost as much as GH¢294.3 million in January and February this year.
The promise of a Better Ghana ended with the declaration by officials who have supervised over a looting spree. Living in Ghana is now bitter than at any time in our 57 years of self-government.
Last Tuesday, without any fanfare, petroleum prices went up by seven percent. Now a gallon of petrol cost GH¢12.30.
In a developing nation, without any other system of travel, other than by road, increases in petroleum products, have a huge effect on the cost of living.
A day or two before the last increase in petroleum products, electricity and water tariffs were raised again. It is beginning to look like this administration does not want Ghanaians to have noses to breathe.
The other day, a cab driver told me that he has sent his wife and children to the village. “Master I cannot make ends meet anymore. I have sent the wife home with the kids. I have registered the three children at the basic school in the village. I am unable to meet the cost of living in Accra anymore,” he stated.
He said he buys GH¢60 worth of petrol everyday. He also makes GH¢50 sales per day. In addition to all these, he has to buy AMA stickers and make other expenditures in addition to union dues.
“Chief, we are suffering. This is not the Ghana they sold to us when the NDC came asking for our votes to turn this country into a ‘Better Ghana,” he lamented.
In the midst of the encircling gloom, President John Mahama and his Finance Minister, appear to contradict each other on the way out of the economic mess they have created for everybody in this country.
Mr. Seth Terkper went to Parliament on Monday and told our Honourable Members that the state would put a cap on borrowing, as a means of stopping the downward slip of the economy, with its fast fall of the cedi.
On the other hand, the President stood at Kyebi the other day and taunted those of us who believe that government borrowing spree was one of the reasons why the economy is in a mess.
President Mahama said he would continue to borrow. He looked at hapless Ghanaians in the face and said his Government was not borrowing for jamboree sessions.
I need not offer any apology to tell the Head of State that his Kyebi mantra failed to exhibit any fiscal discipline on his part, in resolving the myriads of economic problems he has bequeathed to this nation. Ghana is in a mess and the Head of State knows it!