Suddenly, Mr. Martin Amidu, Ghanaï¿½s one-man citizen vigilante, is the toast of all nationals. I learn that former junta head Jerry John Rawlings chose a platform in Nigeria to heap praises on his one-time cadre.
The Supreme Court verdict on Mr. Amiduï¿½s crusade to get state monies which were parcelled out to Waterville and Woyome, in what Justice Jones Victor Dotse described as a well-orchestrated move by leading legal brains in this administration to create, loot and share, has catapulted him to an almost cult status.
It is not as if Mr. Martin Alamisi Benz Kaizer Amidu began his campaign to clean up the mess in this administration with the issue on which the Supreme Court pronounced judgment last Friday. Long before he took his crusade to the Law Lords, Mr. Amidu had issued a damning verdict on the Mahama administration.
ï¿½Corruption, or the perception of corruption in this government,ï¿½ Mr. Amidu stated in a press release explaining why he was thrown out of the Mills Government as the stateï¿½s Chief Legal Adviser, ï¿½is endemic and systematic, and was not personal to my late friend, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills. The people infecting this government with the endemic corruption and abuse of office for private gains, are alive and in President Mahamaï¿½s Government,ï¿½ the citizen vigilante charged in the release, the contents of which were published by The Chronicle on Tuesday, October 9, 2012.
Mr. Amiduï¿½s statement was in answer to President Mahamaï¿½s challenge to Ghanaians to report the Head of State to any anti-corruption agency, if the people of Ghana perceived him to be corrupt.
The former Attorney-General challenged the President to set up a bi-partisan committee of Parliament to investigate corruption in his administration.
ï¿½President Mahama,ï¿½ wrote Mr. Amidu, ï¿½should demonstrate to the electorate the seriousness of his challenge and adherence to his oath as President, by setting up a bi-partisan Committee of Parliament to investigate corruption in his government. He would be amazed at the gargantuan volume of evidence that will be volunteered to the bi-partisan committee.ï¿½
Sad to state, the President missed the opportunity. Instead of the bi-partisan committee of Parliament that Mr. Amidu recommended, President Mahama rather appointed a one-man committee to investigate judgment debts, in a move that many Ghanaians consider as a clear attempt to by-pass the truth.
Mr. Amidu warned in his release thus: ï¿½It will be folly on the part of any reasonable person to report him (President) to any public investigation body on charges of corruption, so he may defend himself.ï¿½
He went on to make a very damning allegation that should be of interest to all Ghanaians. According to Mr. Amidu, on July 26, 2011, following the hue and cry over the price at which the state acquired five aircraft, including an Embraer 190 and a hanger for the Ghana Air Force, the late President John Evans Atta Mills set up a committee to investigate the matter.
Members of the committee, according to Mr. Amidu, were Mr. William Aboah, the immediate past Minister of the Interior, Mr. George Amoah and Brigadier General Allotey (Rtd), a former Judge Advocate of the Armed Forces.
ï¿½The terms of reference of the committee,ï¿½ said Mr. Amidu, who as Attorney-General at the time, was instructed to write, were (1) To investigate the process adopted in selecting, negotiating and agreeing on the acquisition of the aircraft, (ii) To investigate the competitive advantage, price of the aircraft, and the level of economic and financial due diligence conducted by relevant agencies in the process of acquisition of the aircraft, (iii) To investigate any other matter that, in the opinion of the committee, is reasonably related to the foregoing terms of reference.ï¿½
According to Mr. Amidu, pressure groups within government and the NDC never allowed the committee to take off. ï¿½But, the very fact that late President Mills even contemplated this committee meant that he was uncomfortable with, and suspicious of the alleged inflated prices of the aircraft.ï¿½
There is everything serious about this allegation. If the President of the land at the time felt there were grounds to investigate his deputy on matters concerning mis-use of the public purse, then there is reason to worry. As a journalist, I am concerned that a number of President Mahamaï¿½s appointees have been subjects for reprimand at the Supreme Court.
At this stage, this revelation remains a mere allegation. So far, the allegation has not been put to test, which means it may, or may not be true. All the same, I find it very difficult to conjecture why a former Attorney-General may concoct such a serious allegation against the President of the land.
What I do remember is that the media and the general public complained about the high cost of the aircraft, especially the Embraer.
What most people were at pains to comprehend was that the Ghana Government, led by then Vice-President John Dramani Mahama, who was also the head of the governmentï¿½s delegation to the manufacturers in Brazil, agreed to pay $55 million for the Embraer 190 Jet, against the manufacturerï¿½s own price of $28.5 million or $40 million, irrespective of enhanced accessories.
What is more, the John Mahama deal indicated that the government had requested the option of configuration to convert the luxury jet into a military aircraft. As a result of the new specification, the cost of the aircraft ballooned to $88 million. The configuration included an extra fuel tank at a cost of $8m, air staircase at $1m, and in-flight entertainment gadgets at $1.4 million.
What irked Ghanaians most was the construction of an aircraft hanger as part of the deal at $17 million dollars. Incidentally, the Ghana Armed Forces had contracted to build a standard aircraft hanger with standard features of maintenance facility, stores, fire tenders and offices for the crew and engineers at a cost of $5m in 2008, barely two years earlier.
How the cost of the hanger ballooned to $17m in two years, in an economy with official inflation in single digit, did not sit down well with most Ghanaians.
Apparently, the deceased Head of State wanted the slate to be wiped clean. That is why he constituted what would have amounted to a probe into the deal, spearheaded by his Vice-President and now the successor Head of State.
According to Mr. Amidu, pressure groups within the government and the ruling NDC never allowed the committee to begin its inquisition. With hindsight, it would have done the image of the present Head of State a lot of good, if the committee had sat on the inquiry.
As it is, there is the lingering suspicion that the President of the Republic may not be above reproach in the application of public funds. It emerged recently that the accounts of state was overdrawn by as much as GHï¿½8.7 billion in the year 2012. There is the worrying trend too that the Presidency overspent its budget by a whooping GHï¿½600 million in the same year.
In opposition circles, the contention is that state resources might have been applied in getting Ghanaians to vote for the governing party. In other words, the government of the day might have used state revenue to buy the votes of Ghanaians, according to the doctrine of those on the other side of the political divide.
The jury is still out on this contention. But the fact that question marks are still hanging over some of the leading appointments of the President, seems to be speaking louder than words. Birds of the same feathers, the British would tell you, flock together. I shall return tomorrow.
Source: Ebo Quansah/The Chronicle
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