Is Our Government For Sale?

A couple of days ago, the American Senate passed a comprehensive tax bill strictly on party lines, meaning it passed only by the narrowest of margins, as the Republican Party majority there is razor-thin, hence the hue and cry about the recent Alabama senatorial elections won by a Democrat.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, condemned the Senate vote as evidence of the fact that the American government is now for sale to the highest bidder because Republican Party donors are happy that their interests have been catered for in the new bill.

This interpretation, if correct, is a direct opposite of the meaning of the Candidate Trump campaign cry that if he won last year November, which he did, he would rid Washington the federal capital and by extension, American national politics, of the bad effects of influence-peddling, lobbying and the acquisition of unfair advantages and access to federal contracts, officials and programmes by monied interests. “Drain the swamp’’ was the colourfully phrased campaign slogan.

But today, however, the parallel travails of our own government regarding the political meanings and fallout from the news that expatriate firms were required to dole out thousands of dollars each just to sit near our President to eat caviar and drink champagne is not really my interest. Matters have not really reached a peak in this developing story.
My epistle last week confused a lot of my readers. I believed, however, that I had given enough hints. To remedy that confusion and provide clarity, I repeat here the entire text of an earlier epistle published exactly five months ago, July 28, 2017, under a different heading which will definitely enlighten. Here is it. I have not changed a word.

What is happening currently at the Electoral Commission (EC) is exactly a carefully contrived farce extremely dangerous to the constitutional order and the democracy we are enjoying. It is an exact replica of similar events in our country which led ineluctably to the destruction of the First, Second and Third republics. At the moment, the actors in the constitutional comedy are enjoying the ride, but the lessons and the end result could be dire for the type of government we have given ourselves since 1992.

Constitutional lawlessness

I consider it a great pity that this plain constitutional lawlessness is happening under the presidency of President Akufo-Addo, the very person whose antecedents should have persuaded all of us that certain acts, though quite legal and constitutional, are extremely politically unwise. There are so many sides to the raging debates on accountability and good governance within the EC and the calls for action of some sort or the other that one may be led into the easy trap of assuming that these debates have no relevance to the stability of the constitutional order.

When Minister Tawia Adamafio and others were tried from the ‘’investigations’’ into the assassination attempt on President Nkrumah at Kulungungu, the special division of the Supreme Court which freed him and others was chaired by the Chief Justice, Sir Arku Korsah, with the other two members being William Benjamin Van-Lare and Edward Akufo-Addo, who himself later became Chief Justice and our President in the Second Republic. It is widely rumoured that indeed the judgement of the court was written by Justice Edward Akufo-Addo.

The judgement so infuriated President Nkrumah that he dismissed the Chief Justice and two other judges, and appointed a new Head of the judiciary, Julius Sarkodie-Addo, whose court dutifully found the accused guilty. President Nkrumah’s greatness, in spite of his universal fame, has never been able to live down this blatant invasion of the independence of the judiciary. This was in 1964, the very year the country was turned into a one-party state, all in the ridiculously futile effort to ‘’cipipify’’ the entire country, to quote the self-same Adamafio in earlier times!

Second invasion

Our Second Republic also witnessed the invasion of the judiciary by the government of Prime Minister Busia when he disagreed in a public broadcast surrounded by his ministers, with the judgement of the Appeal Court in the unlawful dismissal case of EK Sallah, who had been affected by what became known as “Apollo 568,’’ the attempt by the Progress Party government then to ‘’pipify’’ the civil and public services. Dr Busia had managed to craft before then a political image as representing the party of the rule of law, constitutionalism and democracy, as distinct from the Nkrumah era.

The Third Republican example directly involved our current President, when he led a strong legal team of three lawyers made up of his good self, Tsatsu Tsikata and Dr EOT Prempeh, now a Kumasi chief, to represent Dr Amoako-Tufuor, who had sued the President Limann government for the wrongful dismissal of the Chief Justice, Fred Apaloo, after a frenzied farcical vetting process in Parliament, very much akin to the political lynching of reputations currently ongoing. The nomination, vetting and dismissal of Justice Apaloo, were all declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a judgement written by a panel member, Justice Kwadwo Agyepong, who later became a victim during the tragic kidnapping and murder of three judges and the ex-army officer in the following military government after the overthrow of the Limann Government.

Our President, Nana Akufo-Addo, therefore, has a definite personal and political stake in the current crude attempts to invade the constitutional independence of institutions of state from partisan encroachments by the executive. This is doubly imperative and crucial because the party he is a member of seems bent on the destructive path of ‘’enpipifying’’ all state institutions, that is filling their offices with dependable party apparatchiks, employing the ready and seemingly acceptable reasons of accountability, the fight against corruption and good governance.

Aspects of the current manufactured crisis are simply ridiculous. Justice William Atuguba has been twice passed over for the position of the Chief Justice, but not once have we heard that this supposed wrong is occasioning bad working relations on the Supreme Court since 2007. The Parliament of Ghana since its sittings began in 1993, likewise has many members at each other’s throats, but we have never required them to love each other in order to perform their functions. The prerogative to appoint in the case of the current EC chairperson, has been challenged by members of the President’s party in the past. At that time, in opposition, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had no mandate to sustain the integrity and independence of constitutional bodies. Now they do. Is it safe to assume that the party is uninterested in the outcome of the current crisis?

Credible elections?

The most serious inference to be drawn from this whole contrived farce is being overlooked by all the actors in this drama. Are the results of the last elections genuine, and supportable, given the valid conclusions that must be drawn from some of the wild allegations bandied about? Do they give credence to the recent hints by the Member of Parliament for Assin North, Mr Kennedy Agyepong, that some things, apparently illegal, happened during that exercise to give victory to the NPP and President Akufo-Addo?

If the legitimacy of our last polls praised as usual by all observers, local and international is being questioned in this dangerous manner, is this not enough for us to stop and reflect on matters before we go over the precipice, especially since President Akufo-Addo has commended the EC twice already for a good job done which gave him the presidency last December with an emphatic victory and a handsome margin? At his inauguration in January, he was full of praise for the EC, and also at his first address to Parliament the following month, he found the words to heap praises upon the EC for a good work done.

Normally in our politicking, parties that win refrain from attacking and undermining the state institutions that victory mandates them to protect and sustain for the benefit of the people. The opposite is now happening, all in a crude, transparent effort to remove all supposed anti-government elements from the public space and completely “enpipify’’ the state. It will fail, as others have in our previous republics, no matter how long the nightmare of seeming success persists.