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August 2010

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A friend introduced me to Rudyard Kipling’s poem earlier this year. It’s a masterpiece and as I continue to ponder over the NDC’s needless attacks on the judiciary, I wish I had money to print Mr. Kipling’s inspiring words on cards to be distributed among all the judges in the country.

I am sure it will put a lot in perspective for them and help keep them all focused on doing the right thing to shame the NDC and its rubble rousers. I don’t have the money so I am publishing the poem here, in the hopes that visitors who know some judges will draw their attention to the fact that I would like them to read ‘IF’… >>>

 

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

— Rudyard Kipling

There is no doubt that government needs to win a court case – and fast. So far, in its bid to justifiably prosecute officials of the Kufuor regime perceived to have engaged in corruption, the Mills administration has suffered more humiliation than any government can bear.

If it were a boxing arena, you would say government has suffered too many blinding jabs, jaw-breaking upper cuts and technical knockouts – all from a southpaw.

Sometimes, it’s been forced to simply throw-in the towel, bleeding from puffy eyes and enlarged nostrils. It’s not a pretty sight and the administration and its supporters are worried. Who wouldn’t when the spectacle makes it seem like government is being led in these legal battles by a bunch of teenagers who have just gained admission into a university to read for an LLB. 

In the face of the disturbing legal battering government has suffered, a friend of mine recently asked: “is the [government] being advised by a crack team of lawyers or a team of lawyers on crack?”

It’s a good question, which demands urgent answers if the Mills administration is going to be able to come out of its corner to put up a winnable legal performance to win at least one case against members of Kufuor’s looting brigade.

I look forward to that. Many Ghanaians do.

It seems however that the government and the ruling party are in no mood to play it fair. It is quite disturbing that instead of putting their act together to come out and fight clean, some government officials and the leadership of the ruling party appear ready to employ underhand tactics and they have no qualms about hitting below the belt to get what they desperately need – a legal victory.

They started off with the suggestion that the Attorney General, whom I like to call a friend, is losing her cases because her office is filled with saboteurs connected with the main opposition party. This spurious claim came from none other than the deputy general secretary of the NDC, Kofi Adams.

When Adams’ argument fell flat, the party decided to grab at any straw that came it way. So they decided to turn their attention on the judges.

Now, they are claiming that the government is losing its cases because the judiciary is filled with judges who are NPP loyalists and therefore as long as they remain on the bench, the government might never win a case. That’s why you hear the chairman of the NDC, Kwabena Adjei, who used to be a very wise guy proclaiming that his party will “clean” up the judiciary.

“There are many ways to kill a cat,” he added, speaking like a like a man on crack and hemp who has suffered irreparable brain damage!

I don’t know what Kwabena Adjei means by “we will clean [the judiciary] and let everybody everywhere blame us for interfering with the judiciary and we will take them on.”

But I hope it’s just silly bragging because I don’t see how the NDC can “clean” up the judiciary. President Mills can’t sack the chief justice and he can’t reverse the appointment of any judges. The most they can do is do as Kufuor did – stuff the bench. Even so, they will hardly win any poorly prosecuted case.

Cleaning up the judiciary may also mean something the NDC’s antecedent is well-noted for. I get the impression that if the NDC had its way, they would kidnap a few judges and kill them – revolutionary style.

To make matters worse, you get a retired Supreme Court judge, Kpegah, who is supposed to know better, spewing a lot of BS in support of Kwabena Adjei’s virulent nonsense.

The nonsense must stop. This country does not belong to the NDC and its hoodlums alone. Their foot-soldiers have been allowed to attack anything from public toilet to offices of government agencies. They got away with it and so now their leaders think they can also seize the courts. Ghanaians will not allow them destroy one of the key institutions of our nation and our democracy – the judiciary.

No one is saying we have a perfect judiciary. But we don’t have a perfect executive either. Parliament is even worse. But no one is demanding a cleansing of the judiciary and parliament with the kind of vitriol, Kwabena Adjei and the senile Justice Kpegah have resorted to. It is this same judiciary, supposedly stuffed with NPP loyalists, which delivered a ruling that secured electoral victory for the NDC after the presidential polls in 2008. Yes, the judiciary is not perfect. But it’s an institution we need to build – with human beings who may have political sympathies for one party or another.

If the NDC cannot play intelligently in court to fairly win cases, they should just give up and concede that they do not have the requisite legal brains. Ghanaians will understand. But we will never forgive anyone who dares to fiddle with the judiciary in a desperate attempt to win one or two court cases. By all means, we are all in support of holding thieving former government officials to account. But judicial manipulation will not be tolerated. Those who think it’s the only way out for the government must have their brains cleansed.

After months of haggling, not to mention uncertainty and needless controversy, vice President John Mahama launched the national youth policy to great funfare at Elmina. Coming just a few weeks after the dismissal of Sekou Nkrumah, who had criticized the Mills administration for literally sitting on the policy, the administration went to great lengths to make much of the launch.

They wanted to publicise it as much as possible because they want to mark it down as one of the major achievements of the Mills administration. In the run-up to the elections in 2012, you are going to be hearing a lot of government officials thumping their chests and claiming credit for launching the national youth policy.

But if we are all going to be honest with ourselves, we will tell ourselves that the youth policy is nothing to be so proud of. The youth policy is just another piece of paper on which some civil servants have written a few meaningless words just to please themselves and appease groups of young people who have been deceived into thinking that a national youth policy will turn Ghana into a nirvana for the youth.

“The new Millennium provides the youth the opportunity for a new beginning for them to be involved in national development since they are potential leaders of any Nation,” youth and sports minister, Akua Sena Dansua says in her foreword to the document. “Youth development however does not occur in a vacuum. The Youth must prepare and be prepared to take up this leadership role.”

It’s English alright. But I don’t know what all of that means.

For God’s sake the “new millennium” started 10 years ago. It’s not that ‘new’ anymore and over the past decade we’ve lost a lot of opportunities. Wasting precious time launching policies with needless fanfare will not bring those opportunities back. Neither will the national youth policy if our leaders continue to behave like blind men in a cave.

They say the youth policy is a statement of intent, spelling out how government desires to equip the youth with skills, values and ethics to enable them contribute meaningfully to national development.

That sounds good. But do we need a policy to tell us – or government – what the youth need and what the state should do for them? I don’t think so. Another statement of intent is not what the youth of this country need. We have had enough of those – wasting precious paper and ink.

Practically every bureaucracy in this country does work which impacts on the lives of young people. From education to health through agriculture and sports, everything government does should be done with the future (the youth) in mind. All we need is for these agencies to do what is expected of them.

As a youth myself, I believe that what the young people of this country need is not another document which would be left to gather dust on the shelves of some civil servants. We need action. Government does not need to spell out what it needs to do in a policy document before it starts acting.

What we need is action much of it directed at one thing – education. Holistic education that feeds the mind, builds the body and edifies the soul. Education is the only path to youth development.

You can put the nicest words on paper any day and call it a national youth policy. At the end of the day if you have 200 or more students crammed in an auditorium, listening to an overworked and underpaid lecturer who uses lesson notes which are older than his students, your youth are doomed.

Government cannot claim to be committed to youth development while playing ‘chaskele’ with the educational system, as is being done with the senior high school programme. Sporting talents are best unearthed and developed in school. Athletes who are discovered outside the educational system are the lucky ones and they are in the minority. A well-structured educational system also helps a great deal to instill values and ethics in young people.

As things stand now, our educational system is broken. Now, we even hear of students going to be housed in tents? How far we’ve come! Until the problems of our educational system – from kindergarten to the university – are resolved, I am afraid this youth policy government takes so much pride in will make little or no difference. So they should stop wasting our ears!

It may be sheer incompetence. Or there might be a conspiracy most of us are unaware of. Either way, someone is not doing what he or she gets paid to do well. And that’s why we see people like Charles Wireko-Brobby and his uncle, Kwadwo Mpiani, smiling where they should be wailing.

Those two men squandered our scarce resources in the name of an independence celebration and they ought to be punished for that.

We didn’t need to waste more money and time for a commission of enquiry to tell us what we already knew about how they wasted our money. But that’s what the government did. That commission made it clear that the Wireko-Brobby and Mpiani have some pretty tough questions to answer.

Who should ask those questions and where?

Most of us thought a court of law would do. But the judge to whom the case was taken says he doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear it. It is a lot of legal mumbo jumbo my mind cannot comprehend.

What is clear, however, is that the prosecutors have been dealt a technical knockout, which has jeopardized what should have been a pretty clean-cut case even a first-year prosecutor shouldn’t lose. It is disheartening.

We need answers. We can’t allow the two men to go scot-free on a legal technicality. However, as things stand now, and with the unequivocal judgment delivered yesterday, it seems it will take a miracle for Wireko-Brobby and Mpiani to get their just reward. And that’s heart wrenching.

If state prosecutors cannot get people like Wireko-Brobbey and Mpiani punished for squandering our money, one is left wondering… who else? And all this is happening when we have a law professor as president? I think those raising doubts about the competence of the Attorney General should also be questioning her boss.

As for the NDC hacks like Kofi Adams, who think that some people in the Attorney General’s office have been sabotaging cases against former government officials, someone should kindly tell them to shut the hell up.

I am sure when the likes of Daniel Abodakpi and Victor Selormey were being prosecuted for causing financial loss to the state, there were officials in the AG’s office who were sympathetic to the NDC. Yet they didn’t bungle any case to bring embarrassment to the Kufuor administration. In any case, we cannot run a country where when one party comes into power all public servants who are perceived to belong to the other party must be pushed aside.

If there is any conspiracy (or sabotage), it seems to me that a bunch of politicians are putting up a charade, shielding each other by bungling up cases like this with the most elementary mistakes. It might be a case of you ‘chopped’ illegally yesterday and I’m doing everything not to get you punished but as I ‘chop’ now, I hope that you return the favour tomorrow. Now, this scenario may be a bit far-fetched. But it’s more probable than the one Kofi Adams is painting to us.

Whatever the case may be, something is awfully wrong somewhere. There are only two people who can tell us what that ‘something’ is and how it can be dealt with – the president (the law professor) and his chief legal advisor! Between the two of them, this premature discharge which has put smiles on the faces Wireko-Brobby and Mpiani must be reversed.

But they should not under any circumstance manipulate the system to achieve a political objective. That’s what Kufuor did against Tsikata. No need to repeat that.

I would like to see Mpiani and Wireko-Brobby punished on the law and without any political colourations. What is most important is for the government, especially the attorney general and the president, to make sure that these unpardonably petty legal mistakes are never repeated. They do not auger well for the rule of law.

I was in the Joy Newsroom on Saturday evening when I heard John Kufuor condemning his successor’s record against corruption. He said that “corruption is becoming incarnate; we see corruption everywhere.” Immediately I heard those words, I turned to one of my colleagues and said: “look who’s talking.”

I knew then that either the government or the ruling party will find a way to give Kufuor a response, which would mostly be inappropriate.

So I wasn’t exactly surprised to hear on Monday morning that the Information Ministry had issued a statement cataloguing some of the instances of alleged corruption under Kufuor to tell him that he has no moral authority to speak against corruption under Mills.

That statement from the information ministry didn’t come as a surprise to me. But it was disappointing. It came from an administration which is still in denial about the prevalence of corruption.

The fact is that corruption is as pervasive under the Mills administration as it was under Kufuor. President Mills might not be dabbling in corruption. But he is not exactly dealing with it as decisively as he should.

In one famous case, President Mills claimed that what most Ghanaians saw as blatant corruption was nothing more than an act of “indiscretion”.

Where Kufuor deliberately turned a blind eye, Mills is shamefully burying his head in the sand. Where Kufuor condoned corruption, Mills is tolerating it.

Kufuor knows this better than most of us Ghanaians ever will. He has been in Mills position before and he knows corruption in its various forms. He knows when it’s alive and well. He knows when it’s taken root and he knows when it’s hovering everywhere – “incarnate”. That’s to say it’s around but it’s pretending not to be around. Kufuor knows all of these things.

So look who’s talking.

It’s Kufuor.

He knows what he’s talking about. When Kufuor says corruption is "incarnate", I tend to agree with him. Sometimes it is so easy for the one who has previously dabbled in corruption to see it in its various forms.

Government can tell him off all they want. But, this is one of the few instances where I’d wholeheartedly agree with him. Corruption was very much alive under his nose and out of power, disabled from benefiting from corruption, he sees it in a different light – “incarnate”.

Where is the evidence? That was Kufuor’s favourite question whenever he was challenged to live up to his promise to fight corruption. But he is not exactly providing any.

Most Ghanaians know a corrupt government when they see one even though they can’t provide any evidence. But the absence of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean that corruption is dead. After all, it’s “incarnate”.

By Nana Ama Agyemang Asante

Somebody within the ruling NDC government has clearly gone mad. No, really. The party has announced plans to pursue the STX-Korea housing deal by sending the flawed contract back to parliament. Yes, it is the same $1.5billion for 30,000 houses that Imani Ghana warns will rack up our debts so high that our ‘ecomini’ might never become an economy again.

In case you missed it on TV or radio, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and housing who withdrew the agreement from parliament citing inaccuracies held a press conference alleging that those who disagree with the terms of the deal are only doing so out of “naked jealousy,” and are being “mischievous”.

Really! That’s so rich, coming from a member of a party which walked, ranted and raved about the Vodafone deal, even though they knew that Ghana Telecom was in dire straits and needed to be sold off. According to Alban Bagbin and the government anyone who disagrees with the terms of this deal because it contains too many freebies for STX-Korea belongs with the opposition. Suddenly the swing voters who ensured their slim win do not have a mind of their own after all.

Then again, it is just like the NDC to place anyone who disagrees with them in the ‘opposition’ box. Because in their warped minds Ghanaians are a bunch of idiots who cannot tell a bad contract at first glance. Now, my legal knowledge is minimal but even so, this contract reeks of poor negotiation skills and bad planning on the part of government of Ghana.

How else does one explain the exclusion of GREDA from this project?
In spite of what Alban Bagbin says GREDA sure ain’t getting part of this deal. Never mind the fact they can do it for half the STX-Korea cost.

Somehow the ‘better Ghana’ folks who hate profligacy of any kind prefer a deal with STX-Korea which only benefits the Koreans. They will offer the credit facility to build 200,000 houses at the cost of 10billion dollars and at an interest rate of 4% per anum. I hear there are cheaper ways to raise that much money (like the capital bond market) and that way we can avoid mortgaging the oil which is not here yet as the Koreans want with their commodity trading clause in the contract.

For some reason the government is obsessed with giving STX-Korea more than just the high interest rate they are charging for the loan. They also get serviced land, tax exemptions, and infrastructure such as roads, electricity and drainage systems. Did I mention that the government must pre-finance 90,000 of those houses before the project can begin?

Isn’t it obscene for a responsible government to force this kind of deal on its citizens and brand discerning minds as “mischievous” and consumed with “naked jealousy.”

Now I know there is a housing deficit that must be closed and soon, But $1.5billion for 30,000 houses, after which the government intends to sell the houses between $12,510 for a one-bedroom house and $73,000 for a four bedroom house with an outhouse? Underpriced huh? Why not? It is only our economy that will go up in flames.

And get this, 51% of the houses will be one bedroom houses. Brilliant isn’t it? Because ninety percent of those houses will be bought ‘again’ by the government for the security agencies. Anyone passed by Nima police barracks recently? It is not for decorative purposes that they put their refrigerators outside their rooms – one bedroom apartments are just not spacious for even a family of two.

What’s with barracks anyway? The British who built them have moved on. Police men live amongst the people, and contrary to what Edem Asimeh, the Vice Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Water Resources, Works and Housing says the police do not require any special training before they can be integrated into local communities. It’s not like they live on Olympus.

The plan sounds so stupid that even Members of parliament (who signed off on the ex-gratia) couldn’t believe it and it must surely be commercial suicide for a government that claims to be running a country that is broke. And only someone who is acting out of “naked jealousy” and is being “mischievous” will settle for such a contract.