The allegation by the MP for Asikuma Odobeng Brakwa, P. C. Appiah Ofori, that his colleagues on the NPP side took bribes to approve the privatisation of Ghana Telecom is hard to swallow. I doubt if any such thing happened. Appiah-Ofori just blowing needless wind and the stench will create more problems for him than anyone else.
To begin with, he doesn’t have any proof. It’s almost impossible to prove allegations of bribery. But Appiah-Ofori doesn’t seem to be in a position to even attempt to prove this allegation. He claims that the first deputy speaker, Doe Adjaho, told him about the 5000-dollar bribes that were allegedly given to each of the NPP MPs. Mr. Adjaho – who was the deputy minority leader at the time – concedes that he was only a purveyor of rumour.
That means Appiah-Ofori doesn’t really have much to run with. So it is unsurprising that the NPP MPs are denying that they took bribes to push through the deal that turned Ghana Telecom from the blue-coloured, loss-making state enterprise it was, into the privately-owned, brightly-red and confident Vodafone it is today. Some of the NPP MP’s are heading for court to sue Mr. Appiah-Ofori and ‘The Enquirer’ – the newspaper which first published his allegations. They are claiming that they have been seriously defamed and asking for one billion Ghana cedis in damages.
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If there is any justice in the world (and in this country in particular), Appiah-Ofori should lose that case.
Apart from the fact that he has no evidence, his allegations don’t make sense.
The Kufuor administration did a lot of silly, nonsensical things. But it’s hard to believe that they were stupid enough to bribe MPs – on their side – to approve a transaction they would have rubber-stamped anyway.
Our MPs, especially those on the majority side, tend to behave like catatonic zombies. They often behave as if they do not have brains of their own. They like to follow the path of least resistance and that is often the path of the executive. So they just take an inordinate delight in approving anything and everything the executive arm does – or wishes to do.
Appiah-Ofori, however, seems to be from a different breed. He has the courage to use his brains to think and speak for himself without needlessly following the party line like a castrated goat. And that’s why he vehemently opposed the GT-Vodafone deal. He put up a gallant fight but he lost. He feels pained, especially considering the fact that, just before the deal was passed, MPs on his side shut him down and prevented him from making a statement in parliament. He did, however, manage to make his point on various platforms. He – unlike all the other NPP MPs – believes that the national interest was not served.
Being the NPP’s maverick has won Appiah Ofori plaudits and admiration. He is seen as the only independent-minded person in the 230-member legislative assembly. That’s a very solid reputation which should be cherished and protected. By making unfounded allegations – based on “they say, they say” – Appiah-Ofori is needlessly sullying his image and tearing up his own credibility.
And for what? To get the deal reversed? That won’t happen – not even if it is proven that the NPP MPs were bribed. So Appiah-Ofori should just give up and take on more viable causes – like campaigning for his fellow MPs to use their heads and their hearts to first seek the national interest. That will help us all.
Unfounded allegations will not do anyone any good. Neither will the over-reaction of the minority MPs. It’s their choice to seek legal redress. However, their decision to stay away from decision-making until the matter is resolved is untenable. They claim their image has been dented and until it is straightened up, they will only participate in parliamentary discussions and leave the NDC majority side to do all the voting. This sort of parliamentary tantrum-throwing will only worsen the image problem – not improve it.
MPs already have a very bad image in this country. A good number of Ghanaians see MPs as a bunch of “sankwas”, self-seeking sycophants who sometimes approve deals without even bothering to read what it is they are rubber-stamping. Appiah-Ofori’s remarks are just another layer in the ever-thickening grunge that makes up the image of parliament.
Walkouts and abstention from voting will not polish things up in anyway. Our MPs like to call themselves honourable. If they do the honourable thing and sit down to think honestly about what they have done over the years, they will realise that the only way to spruce up their image is for them to start seeking the interests of the people who sent them to parliament. It’s not rocket science. And it’s not too much to ask, is it? This, I suppose, is what PC Appiah-Ofori wants. On this, I stand with him. But on the court case, I am afraid, he stands alone.