Ghanaian politicians are such a complex breed – and sometimes one wonders if any of them actually ever think of the well-being of our country, and the unremitting awfulness of the quality of life, which most ordinary people are forced to endure, because of the straightened circumstances of our country. Take the matter of those tiresome and mostly disingenuous arguments, which went back and forth at a point in time, about the depreciation of our currency, for example – between members of the ruling party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and the largest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
I vividly recall the erudite Nana Ohene Ntow, the general secretary of the NPP, going on and on, with glee, about the depreciation of the cedi on Metro TV’s “Good Morning Ghana” newspaper review programme – and wondered to myself at the time whether he thought that under his regime Ghana’s foreign exchange system was a pure floating one. Did that genius not know that his government spent nearly a billion dollars propping up the new Ghana cedi, so that the world would see a punch-drunk currency proudly “walking” their phony talk about Ghana’s booming economy – which only benefited a tiny politically well-connected proportion of our total population? Looking at the number of dilapidated police barracks; hospitals, schools, and other similarly-challenged public institutions across the country, whose heads one sees frequently on television news programmes, soliciting for good Samaritans to come to their aid, could a caring government that thought less about saving face at all costs, no matter the long-term cost to our nation, not have spent that sum of money on some of those forlorn institutions they so neglected: whiles forever telling us what a stellar economic-performer Ghana under their regime was? Where did all that HIPC money go, one wonders?
Recently, it was reported that some of the members of the NPP had met a section of the media at an Accra hotel. It is no secret that most of those journalists also benefited greatly from the slush-fund operated by our secret services – during that super-generous spymaster extraordinaire Mr. Francis Poku’s era. That was a period during which scores of people in our national life were compromised – as they happily sold their consciences for zillions: and in return helped the NPP regime execute its master-plan to remain in power permanently. I wondered which other key groups, apart from the NPP media praise-singers, that the NPP had also been meeting in secret – and what could be the real agenda of the current crop of politicians from a political tradition, whose elitism makes most of its adherents (such as the Maxwell Kofi Jumahs and Atta Akyeas) think that they were born to rule our country: a characteristic that made their political forebears, then in opposition to the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), refuse to accept the legitimacy of a political party that had trounced them on three separate occasions in free and fair elections (in 1951, 1954, and the last and most decisive, in 1956). They rather resorted to acts of terrorism to physically eliminate Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the hope of bringing his rule to an end that way. Incidentally, Mr. R. R. Amponsah, who died a few days ago, plotted a coup with some of his Busia-Danquah self-seeking fellow-travellers, against Nkrumah’s regime as early as 1958 – just a year after we gained our independence and when Ghana was a thriving multi-party democracy. May his soul rest in peace.
It is this feeling that ruling Ghana is their birthright, which made Maxwell Kofi Jumah so indignant, that ordinary Ghanaians actually wanted regime-change, in December 2008. It was also what made him bold enough to even have the effrontery, to inform one of those myrmidon-types they recruited to help them rig the elections, that the NPP would not allow Ghanaians to remove them from power. Incredibly, some of those thugs and criminals were even issued military and police uniforms, and a number given arms – with orders to go round key electoral areas in the country to snatch ballot boxes: with the assurance that they would have the protection of senior police commanders if things went awry. As we all know, Maxwell Kofi Jumah was caught on a tape-recording saying that Rawlings was the only one they had to fear in the NDC – and at one stage was arrested with a sniper’s rifle with a telescopic-sight attached to it in his car, on the very day both he and Rawlings happened to be in the Tien constituency. Just what was Maxwell Kofi Jumah up to, one wonders? Clearly, the NPP as an entity is not going to resort to terrorism and organize the myrmidon-types (including those tiresome pea-sized-brained serial-callers) they so ruthlessly manipulated in their quest for eternal power, to plant bombs around the country – but now that the heat is on and investigations are bringing to light the perfidy of the once-powerful crooks amongst them, who participated in the brutal gang-rape of mother Ghana, some of them are definitely up to some mischief and must be watched carefully. Incidentally, it is rather odd that to date the police have not invited those anti-democrats for questioning – particularly as regards the identity of the senior police officers they were relying on to rescue the myrmidon-types sent to snatch ballot boxes if their plans unraveled.
Perhaps the president must now be ruing his charitableness in not wanting to let the public know the depths to which our Alice-in-wonderland (and veritable smoke-and-mirrors) economy had sunk under the NPP, at the time his party took over the running of our country. The unfortunate saga of Ghana International Airlines (GIA), that clueless and hapless airline equivalent of a Dodo, for which Ghana Airways was deliberately killed off, so that some members of the NPP greedy-brigade could successfully rip-off our nation on a regular basis and increase their personal net worth at taxpayers’ expense, best serves as a metaphor for Ghana during the eight years that the NPP was in power for. The question we should find answers for, is: How did it come about, that Ghana International Airlines, set up, ostensibly, on the basis that private capital would fund it (and thus free the Ghanaian nation-state of the expensive burden that Ghana Airways was said to have been), was, by the end of the tenure of those who sanctioned the new airline being set up, costing the taxpayers of Ghana some US$1.5 millions every month, and to make matters worse, did not even possess a single aircraft of its own? Yet, the airline that was liquidated to make way for GIA was a national flag-carrier that had valuable routes around the globe; owned valuable properties in some of the most expensive places in cities across the EU; and actually owned a fleet of aircraft crewed entirely by its Ghanaian employees.
It was the financial equivalent of a sleight of hand, in which our leaders allowed foreigners using an opaque special purpose offshore vehicle, and who neither owned a scheduled airline nor aircraft of their own, to end up benefiting from one of the most egregious examples of the socialization of private risk ever seen in our country – whereby GIA ended up owing vast sums to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), a state-owned pension fund. Incidentally, SSNIT’s munificence was legendary under the NPP – because the powerful politicians who turned our democracy into a kleptocracy, allowed sundry high-flying tycoons to use it as a bank of last resort, for their private schemes: a prime example being the so-called consortium that built that monument to the Kufuor regime’s crony-capitalism: the “AU village project.” Did the masters of the universe and apostles of private enterprise (super-greedy and ruthless souls who clearly had no time for the woolly-headed sentimentality of national pride entailed in our insisting on our nation owning a national flag-carrier at the time), not make out originally, that the US investors in GIA were white knights in shining financial amour, who would use their philosophy of greed, triumphant market-capitalism, to finally free our country from the curse of owning a national carrier that was a financial burden? So just how did apparently well-heeled private American investors (at any rate well-heeled enough to have been allowed by our clever erstwhile leaders to partner our country in GIA) end up being bailed out by a state pension fund in Ghana?
To add insult to injury those selfsame American investors, having fallen out with the crooks who enticed them into Ghana to act as legal fronts for them, are now suing our country in a legal process overseas – and doubtless hope to eventually walk away with zillions of Ghanaian taxpayers’ money. Finally, dear reader, and lest I forget, perhaps that loud NPP mouthpiece, the notorious Daily Guide (which is so savvy about matters financial that it is blissfully unaware that a client who gets his bankers to open an irrevocable letter of credit in favour of a supplier, is as good as gold for that supplier – who can “discount” it for cash immediately if the bank is a reputable one), can do us all a favour, by asking Dr Anthony Akoto Osei to tell the good people of Ghana (when the Daily Guide and their fellow NPP media praise-singers and sundry sycophants, next meet NPP big-wigs in another conclave at a posh hotel, i.e.), whether the letter of credit he authorized was an irrevocable one or not. And whiles they are at it, perhaps the Daily Guide can also ask him why it had to be paid to a third party (as stated in its own columns), instead of directly going to Dr. Negreponte’s organisation – especially as Negreponte’s organisation works in partnership with governments elsewhere in Africa and the rest of the developing world. The Daily Guide will then discover why in the end, if any one has to face the music for those computers, it might probably be Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei and Co., and definitely not the present minister of finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffour, who will. The devil they say is in the detail – and it will be interesting to know if other developing nations were ever quoted a per unit price of US$195 for the computers: and whether or not they were all informed of the price-change at the same time, when the price was said to have been revised upwards to US$205 per computer (if it ever actually was revised upwards to that particular figure, i.e.). Hmmm, Ghana – eyeasemm oo: asem ebaba debi ankasa!