This article appeared in the Mondays, February 19 & 26, 2018 issues, and in re-publishing it this same year, Ti-Kelenkelen is breaking tradition, but it is worth it in the light of what the Special Prosecutor (SP), Martin Amidu, told Africa some weeks ago. The SP said he has invited MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, to come and answer questions on a case the SP Office is investigating, but the MP rather sent pastors, chiefs and sheikhs to beg the SP on his behalf. In this article Ti-Kelenkelen explains that such “culture” of begging, because it worked in the past, is one of the reasons corruption is rife on this continent.
The (former) Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for late President Mills, Martin Alamisi Amidu, who served as deputy in the same positions for former President Rawlings, was on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 vetted for the post of first Special Public Prosecutor for the Republic of Ghana. And since there were no surprises or weird revelations during the about seven-hour long vetting, he is likely to be readily approved by President Nana Addo Danqkwa Akufo-Addo. Then he will have to work with others to choose his team and then together they will begin their work in earnest.
Many have looked at basically two factors and decided that Amidu is going to be efficient and effective or highly productive in the job the Constitution and yet-to-be-gazetted hence yet-to-be-established Act of Parliament hand him once he starts work. These factors are one, his background and track record as a no-nonsense man who has excellent knowledge of the law, and two, his citizen-vigilantism against businessman (and member of the political party he (Amidu) belongs to, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Alfred Agbesi Woyome. He pursued that matter till the Supreme Court of the Republic of Ghana ruled that Woyome must pay back the amount of money he fraudulently extracted from the coffers of Ghana. For those already affirming Amidu’s future success these two factors are adequate grounds for the firm guarantee that Amidu will deliver in the fight against corruption in public office.
However, keen observers, such as Ti-Kelenkelen, are not so sure of the future or general outcome yet, because of the potency of several factors, key among aspects of them our history and culture, which, basically, are not much different from what pertains in other African states. These two factors bear more than ample evidence that there have been several – in fact, so many – instances where serious national problems were identified, and then laws were made to fight them, but eventually the laws are pushed up, rendered redundant and we go on with our lives as it were before the passing of the law.
For that reason, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Amidu have a tough battle ahead. And it is so, especially because there are in both political parties they have emerged from to fill public office, respectively the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the NDC, persons who benefit from corruption and so are likely to clandestinely find ways or be used by other corrupt persons to thwart the efforts of Mr. Amidu. For that class of persons, corruption or the “old” way is good for business, and the new way portended by the Office of Special Prosecutor cannot be allowed to sprout let alone develop and grow.
Amidu’s background and history
Amidu was a no-nonsense deputy to an equally no-nonsense Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Dr. Obed Asamoah. In 1994/5 Ghana was dependent on imported rice to the tune of US$100 million per year. Since Ghana has land favourable for rice cultivation and our farmers were already growing rice, the Rawlings administration came up with the concept of Ghana growing her own rice to eventually save all that foreign exchange. So Ghana used her sovereignty to guarantee a US$7 million loan (from a US bank) for a company owned by an African-American sister, Juliet Rene Woodard Cotton, Quality Grain Company (GH) Limited. The problems the working of this good concept generated were eventually enough to swallow up and drown the entire project.
For example, the loan was an international agreement and the Attorney-General, as lawyer for the Republic of Ghana, was supposed to see the agreement to advice the Rawlings administration on it. Several features were falsified about that agreement, and so the Rawlings Osu Castle hid it from Asamoah. It was the then Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. G. K. Agama, who later asked Asamoah if he was aware of the transaction. After answering “No,” Asamoah wrote a candid letter to the right stakeholders, including President Rawlings, pointing out the dangers of by-passing his office (the A-G) in carrying on an international transaction and affirming that he be furnished with all documents concerning the agreement and in future be consulted about it so that he could play his role as mandated by the Constitution. In an era where ministers feared Rawlings, Asamoah was fearless. That is the man under whom a young lawyer with huge prospects, Amidu, cut his teeth as possible state lawyer.
That training appears to have complemented Amidu’s personality as a strict person who pays attention to details, because already it is obvious from even Amidu’s speech that he is a strict personality and firm interpreter of the law and will broker no interference in his work. That is what became obvious in his fight against Woyome. The public began to see his personality with his reported defiance of President Mills at a cabinet meeting where the President asked Amidu to back away from investigating the Woyome GHC51 million fraud case. What made his defiance more startling is the fact that he was Mills’ minister at the time. Mills later sacked him, but years later, when Mills Vice President, John Mahama (also from the NDC,) was President, Amidu resurfaced again, went to the Supreme Court, which judicial house declared that Woyome should pay the amount back into state coffers.
That earned Amidu the label citizen vigilante lifting him up as someone who will fight corruption no matter who is doing it. That is the background, and it has generated euphoria about his future efficiency, which euphoria, as is obvious, is not altogether unfounded.
History and culture
The problem with a section of the public’s positive prospects of Amidu’s efficiency is that they are looking at Amidu’s future as if his background and personality are an isolated set that will operate without a social, economic and political context. The challenge is this: Our culture or general way of life has this unrelenting habit of creeping in and stealing away the factors that feed and should hold up any positive prospect and euphoria.
(Read the final part next Monday)
“And it is so especially because there are in both political parties they have emerged from to fill public office, respectively the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the NDC, persons who benefit from corruption and so are likely to clandestinely find ways or be used by other corrupt persons to thwart the efforts of Mr. Amidu.”
“For that class of persons, corruption or the “old” way is good for business, and the new way portended by the Office of Special Prosecutor cannot be allowed to sprout let alone develop and grow.”
“The challenge is this: Our culture or general way of life has this unrelenting habit of creeping in and stealing away the factors that feed and should hold up any prospect and euphoria.”
By: Yirenkyi Lamptey