The president’s press secretary sees nothing wrong with his acquisition of new tractors from the Agric Ministry. And the words he speaks to defend himself ring unsurprisingly familiar.

“Those tractors were for sale to anybody who knew about them,” he says. They “are sold for us not at any cheaper price [than] what they are selling to any other person at the ministry.”

Doesn’t that sound just like what officials and cronies of the Kufuor administration said when there was a public outcry against the sale of government salon cars to them at ‘donkomised’ rates?

“The ministry did look at my application and considered what I wanted to do with the tractors and granted my requested for the sale of tractors that were at the engineering department to me.”

And what did he want to do with those tractors?

“I sent the tractors to my constituency and if you go to the Upper East, you will find out that when a tractor ploughs an acre of land they charge 250 thousand Ghana Cedis but the tractors that I sent to my constituency, when they plough one acre they collect only one hundred thousand cedis.”

He said all of that on radio. With pride. And without remorse! He’s very pleased with himself.

Ayariga’s business acumen will be commended by many. But it’s very strange that it seems to have been developed only after he got so close to the president.

But there is a silly question on my mind: if Ayariga was so intent on helping his people plough their lands for cheap, why didn’t he do so about two or three years ago when he was in opposition?

Could he?

I don’t think so. The administration at the time wouldn’t have allowed him to buy tractors with a little deposit for the remainder to be paid over four years – exactly the tenure of government. The same applies to the majority leader, Alban Bagbin and all the other NDC bigwigs who have suddenly developed an interest in tractors and are buying them with glee – from government.

This is one of the privileges of being in politics in this country. It’s a privilege you especially enjoy when your party is in power.

It is true that Mr. Ayariga and his tractors are helping the people of Bawku by offering ploughing services at reduced rates. But he’s helping himself even more.

First of all, he’s making money with the tractors and by undercutting others in the ploughing business, he’s – most importantly – putting himself out as the nice guy who doesn’t charge an arm and a leg to help put your farmland in shape. In four years when, hopefully, he might have finished paying for the tractors, there will be a parliamentary election. He wants to regain the seat he lost last year. He enjoys being an MP more than the president’s spokesman. So he’s quite simply using what he’s got to get what he needs!

That’s politics for you.

Ayariga’s tractor purchases (not to mention Muntaka Mubarak’s ‘kyinkyinga’ scandal) present us with a clear signal that the NDC’s ‘chopping’ spree has started in earnest. I said a couple of weeks ago that politics is essentially a get-rich-scheme in this country. I hate to say “I told you so” but that’s exactly what is on my mind now. We are going to hear a lot more of these things in the months ahead.

At the end of the four-year tenure of this administration, government officials would have grown richer than some of them might have ever dreamt. Some will use their influence and power to gain access to credit most of us will never get. And others, like Muntaka Mubarak, will take more per diem allowances than most civil servants earn in honest salaries. Why on earth should a minister earn a per diem of 1200 for travelling from Accra to Kumasi to watch a football game? The answer is simple: it’s his time and it’s their turn to ‘chop’! And they will. No two ways about that! Same script, different cast.

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