Skip to main content

Little John And The Fight Against Corruption In Ghana By Kwesi E. Baako

November 18, 2014

Ghana is in a sorry state! And I am not even talking economics or any of those topics yet. I am talking about our mindset as a people, our goals and aspirations. What matters to us as a nation gives me sleepless nights.

I often catch myself making excuses for others. Even those that have hurt me, I try to find a motive for their actions. “That is a terrible nature my friend,” my lecturer told me once in Legon, but I think he misunderstands me. I do!

I only try to ask all the possible questions so that when I decide to be furious about something, my fury will be totally justified. So I find myself, in spite of myself answering the questions that I should be asking. But only temporarily; don’t be fooled.

Ghana is in a sorry state! And I am not even talking economics or any of those topics yet. I am talking about our mindset as a people, our goals and aspirations. What matters to us as a nation gives me sleepless nights.

Ghanaian Presiden Mahama

One of my favorite programs on TV is Doomsday Preppers. I watch with amazement as individuals prepare for a day of gloom that they know not when will happen. I find the government (mind you I am not one of those who think all about western governments is the best and all about African governments is shambolic) planning for their people several decades; many generations down the line. I find that in spite of the sharp rivalry/enmity that appears to prevail in the inter-party politicking of these countries, they do have a common agenda; only differ in how to achieve these goals.

So why is Ghana in a sorry state? I spend sleepless nights over 3 basic issues: how party politics has succeeded in dividing the country making everything done or believed in by the other party undesirable, how we don’t seem to have any goals as a nation, putting very little premium on ourselves. (The filth in Accra is testament to this) and how corruption seems to be only a word used by the opposition on the government; to which at best a low level Minster would be sent to issue a guffaw of a rebuff.

I was excited when President John Mahama became president. Another John! A young John, full of promise. And he is an Old Vandal (Alumnus of my loved Commonwealth Hall in the University of Ghana, Legon). Now Vandals have been known for their decisiveness when it comes to taking action to benefit the mass of people. Even though the University has/had a Student Representatives Council in place, it was a somewhat unspoken tradition for the ‘Chief Vandal’, a ceremonial head of Commonwealth Hall to be the one responsible for calling students to action against unjust university and government policies. So you can understand my glee when a young vibrant affable John came to hold the mantle.

My first disappointment came with the choice of some of his ministers. A certain well endowed belle; a lady who is well versed enough in the matters of the candle-lit chamber to step beyond hers and share the subtle secrets of copulation on a public medium found herself all of a sudden having to drop her tools (whatever those would be) to take up a more less intimate responsibility. I was one of a silent majority who just decided to answer the question for my V-Mate (An endearment for hall mates) instead of asking them, shame on me. I heard rumors of pressure from Party Dons etc. It worried me but I asked what a man was to do in a position like Little John’s.  How is a man going to check the people who put him where he is?

“Water will find its own level,” goes a popular African adage. In the course of time, the ‘Love Expert’ decided to involve the police in solving a few love problems of her own. As it turns out, it appeared the Mister was not a good enough student after all. But Before all of this a seemingly harmless conversation had landed Missie in some trouble. Mere wishful thinking had become her bane! When some Nigerian friends of mine heard about how Ms. Belle got the axe for dreaming of making a million dollars (mind you this is not government’s official position) they laughed so hard I was embarrassed. “$1 million? Only???” they jeered.

Anyways, if she was performing, then I think she would have been done a great injustice for dreaming of making a million dollars. Tell me who in government right now thinks any different. So much for moral corruption.

Then there are the allegations of financial corruption too. Initially, several reports appeared in the media seeking to link Ibrahim Mahama, the President’s millionaire brother with several corrupt acts.  I am still yet to see anyone make a real case! Then projects which had the potential not only to improve the lives of Ghanaians but also to remain as a living legacy of the second president to come from the relatively deprived north of the country became tainted with so many allegations of corruption, it became a farce. Harmless phrases like ‘Guinea Fowl’ became a likely source of massive tension. Subah, SADA, Woyome, Abuga Pele, all the way down to a shameful World Cup campaign, there seems to be no end in the allegations.

In the most recent issue, a certain lady busted in London with 12kg of cocaine is being linked with Johnnie again. A radio commentator went as far as to claim she was Mahama’s ‘serious girlfriend’. I have learnt not to put too much premium on things people are politically motivated to blurt out on radio or TV or indeed on any media platform. My concern though is why the president is being brought into this matter again and if the allegation is as baseless as I have a feeling it is, what even forms the premise for it at all. It was also reported that the lady was travelling on a diplomatic passport; an assertion, which has since been debunked by the government and by the Narcotics Control Board. Ghana’s ambassador to the UK, Victor Smith’s statement that he is sending officials to check on her welfare did not seem to help the matter either. Whatsapp was abuzz with text messages with a request to forward questioning Mr. Smith’s motive for sending ‘’2 officials’’ to check on a lady who is purportedly Little John’s paramour and reportedly travelling on a diplomatic passport. The answers to me are really simple though.

Any Ghanaian who finds themselves in any situation abroad deserves no less from the embassy. The question then is, is this the case? I have had several instances of disappointment in my dealings with some Ghana missions abroad. They collectively constitute perhaps one of the most inefficient and unreliable institutions ever created by the government. And is it surprising? How accessible are the government agencies, Ministries etc? I have experienced a dress down from a desk official at the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs for seeking a clarification on a matter. The poor lady thought she was someone important because she answers Nana Oye Lithur’s phone calls!

So I am not too surprised that Mr. Smith’s intentions would appear suspect to some people. The Ghana embassies are simply not known for such efficiency and being up to the task.

Again, are these allegations real? Or are they in the words of ex-President Kuffour “perceived”? Is it just part of a 4-year project by the opposition NPP to create hopelessness in the mind of Ghanaians in a bit to take over from Little John in 2016? Why are there no prosecutions? Why is the NPP for instance not following up on these issues like a responsible opposition should and make sure perpetrators are brought to smell the peppers?

My advice to the NPP: deal with concrete issues! Show us Ibrahim’s stolen money. Show us proof that Nayele Ametefeh is John Mahama’s ‘serious girlfriend’. Good job with Subah and SADA but appeal to intelligent people intelligently. No one benefits from misguided governance and it is your duty to make sure it does not happen. Though you are not in the position of power, so to speak, you are still in government, according to Mr. Aidoo my Secondary School government teacher. Use opposition to benefit Ghanaians.

Why is parliament such a lame institution? Why are they not able to apply the powers vested in them to cease the decadence and bring real change in the lives of those thy have tricked into voting them there? Why are MPs debating ‘adulterous women’ in parliament instead of good roads and water supply? Why is the institution that should best represent all of us giving our money to a chinese business to do things that Ghanaian businesses can do. Or can they? Kwame Nkrumah must be turning in his grave indeed!

Why is it that less than 5 years after striking oil we find it necessary to go whimpering back to IMF with our dry ‘koko’ looking for ‘boflot’ to accompany it?

Parliament for one is notorious for uniting only when it comes to the issue of remunerations. They agree to usuriously yank from the public kitty what they believe they deserve before the rest can be used on whatever else there is to be taken care of. As for the judiciary, I would only say that a system where the poor cannot access justice is hardly an enviable one. I will pick up from there another day.

I humbly suggest that the institution of parliament-at least as it works in my country-be heavily audited and several changes made. Politicians seeking to enter parliament should be made to sign an undertaking that they will not put their personal comforts above that of the masses they have spent time and resources begging to vote for them so they can serve them. Keyword…serve…serve…serve!!! 

If corruption is real, lets deal with it on the ground! If its perceived, let’s deal with it in our heads!