2015: Annus horribilis Ghaniensis
by Kwabena Opong
As far as scandals go 2015 would go into Ghana’s history as one of the nation’s most scandalously unevent- ful years. Reports of corruption involving government officials have bedeviled the NDC administration since it assumed office in 2008. This year was capped with suspicions and scandals of moneys paid in connection with projects that could have cost much less to the extent the usual yuletide greetings have been corrupted to “Ameri Christmas and a Branding New Year” parodying the deal involving 10 Ameri power turbines and the rebranding of some 116 buses of Metro Mass Transit. So much has happened within these past twelve months that could have caused an uninvited change in government a few years back.
No government in the history of Ghana has faced as many scandals as the Mahama administration and it is still a wonder how they manage to win elections notwithstanding their record on corruption. The past six years have witnessed scandal upon scandal in which government officials are involved. But most people involved are walking.
Since 2012, practically not a day went without a report on corruption involving government officials or the ruling party. As the chairman of the board of the Bui Dam Authority,
General Secretary Asiedu Nketiah of the NDC was at the same time sup- plying cinder blocks for construction at the site. He laughed off the report saying his blocks were much durable and better without bothering about the conflict of interest issue arising therefrom. And so has it been with the NDC as a party. They practically laugh off corruption. The party is yet to account for the cost of their head office building allegedly costing $20 million. The arrogance of the ruling NDC regarding the party’s stance to- ward corruption leaves much to be desired. Those involved in the World
Cup 2014 brouhaha were all reassigned to the presidency. A few others involved in other corrupt deals were also similarly reassigned.
Those in court are still dragging with no end in sight. Woyome was able to fight off a trip to the jail through the “able” judgeship of Justice Ajet Nassam who is now facing rustication from the judiciary for bribery. Early in the year, Mr. Woyome promised that by the end of 2015 he should have paid back the 51 million GHC that he criminally received as judgment payment but Ghanaians are yet to hear or know if the man has made good on his promise. What we hear is a possible re-opening of his case, at least from a layman’s point of view. GHc 51 million is a lot of money to let go down Woyome’s throat and Ghanaians can no longer wait. If the man is not going to jail at least he must repay. That is the decent thing to do. A few weeks, if not days, before Christmas it came to pass that Ghana had purchased 10 electric turbines for more than two times their original price. Something that could have cost $220 million
was bought for $510. It did not take a sleuth to unmask the motive be- hind the thievery that characterized the corruption in the deals involving the acquisition of 10 electric generators from Europe. A cool profit of
$300 went into the pockets of foreigners – and Ghanaian collaborators? – who cooked the deal. And were it not for a Norwegian newspa- per report that smelled a stink about one of the signatories to the deal, Ghanaians would have been kept in the dark.
Just when news about the power plants was beginning to wane, an- other one equally stinking and very suspicious emerged. A so-called branding exercise on some 116 Metro Mass Transport buses cost the taxpayer Ghc3,649,044.75. Each of the buses was rebranded for GHc31,457.28.
Meanwhile the manager of Crystal Concept Kwaku Mensah Abeiku has expressed surprise at the cost of branding as it appears in the news and the government invoice. Crystal, according to Mr. Abeiku charged
GHC1,600 for all 116 buses. In other words it cost less than a hundred Ghana cedi per bus to do the job. Naked stealing is how the opposition called the scandal and Amandla agrees. This has cost Minister of Transport Dzifa Ativor her job: She had to resign.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a senior editor of the New Crusading Guide shocked Ghanaians and the world when he outed his findings on his investigation of the country’s judiciary. Anas not only confirmed the suspicions of many Ghanaians but showed that not even the judiciary could be exempted from the pervasion of corruption in the country.
At a time when the clarion call was for a new voter register because of the flaws in the electoral roll, the NDC’s own primaries in November perjured the party’s claims that the existing electoral register was perfect. The NDC’s primaries could not exonerate the party as a rigging machine even if it is an internal matter. Aggrieved candidates complained of a party electoral roll that included names of known NPP and other non- NDC members. The entire exercise showed flaws in the electoral system and an unusual camaraderie between the ruling party and the Electoral Commission. The EC just announced that it would disregard any call to develop a new voter register.
2015 has been an eventful year not only for the NDC government. The NPP’s internal woes nearly cracked holes in the party that could have affected the party’s chances in 2016. The NPP faced an equally challenging year. The violent death of Upper East Regional Party chairman caused by the brother of suspended Chairman Afoko was seriously exploited and indicted the NPP as a party of violence. What with the suspensions of its key officials. National Chairman Paul Afoko, General Secretary Kwabena Agyepong and Greater Accra Regional Chairman Sammy Crabbe are all on suspension. Why it all happened is beyond any sane person’s under- standing. Why would party officials tow a line separate from the main goals of the party? Nowhere is it known that party officials compete with the flag bearer in the same party but it happened in the NPP and it was unhealthy. Talk of a break-away party was broached but it never happened or hasn’t happened so far; not by the end of 2015.
The just ended congress in Sunyani is perceived by most party members as signifying the end of the brouhaha. So far nothing untoward has happened to mar the good for- tune that the Congress has bestowed on the NPP since Sunyani. We hope same will take the party through the 2016 general elections.
Our media deserve ‘mention’: they could not foment trouble as hard as some tried. Despite the damaging corruption and the inaction of government on bribery and corruption in the country most of the media sought to rather focus on the NPP. Some radio commentators could not hide their biases while others openly enjoyed the misfortunes as they inured to the benefit of their paymasters.
In a manner not unlike the days before our transition to democracy our so-called independent media practically ignored the NPP flag bearer’s “Arise and Build” tour of the country. Mahama’s “Transforming Lives” tour on the other hand was splashed on television screens and given bold headlines in the nation’s newspapers.
It has been a long road for citizens, government and everybody involved with Ghana in 2015. The economy performed woefully, prices escalated and cost of utility services skyrocketed. On corruption and energy 2015 was only promises. In the election year of 2016 a lot of slap sticking and band aid solutions would be applied but would they salvage the economy, satisfy the Ghanaian and make the country a better place?
P.S. And talking about power again, Kwabena Donkor is reported on December 27 as saying there was no power outage all through the Christmas period. It doesn’t look like the man lives in Ghana or in Accra. He might have left for his village in the Pru constituency which he reps in parliament. But yours truly can tell you in extreme anger and exasperation that most parts of Adenta and the eastern most parts of Accra had dumsor starting on the afternoon of December 24 and ended late on Christmas day. What a Christmas, Ghanaians would say? The good news is that the minister resigned on December 31 because he couldn’t deliver as he promised. And guess what: Mahama warns his ministers against promising and failing.
We know that several of those judicial workers who were caught in Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ detective work have been fired and their end-of-service awards denied. Serves them right. Many of their victims are still lingering over their misfortune of having been at the receiving end of justice denied. None of the judges and magistrates or even the para-judicials went to jail thus far.
The writer in the Editor-in-Chief of
Amandla and a Director of CMPI