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If I Were To Buy A Bank. Critical News, 15th December 2013

Posted by Business in Ghana on December 15, 2013

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

Don’t we have a saying in our culture that goes “you only see the length of a frog after it is dead”?  I don’t want to harp on death ‘cos Madiba left us after a very well-lived ninety-five and as an avid follower and believer of his life, may I say “damirifa due”.  To say I admired Mandela would be an understatement.  All my life I wanted to meet and shake his hand and I never did anything positively to live the dream.  Now, gone and dearly departed, I am left cross-eyed, looking for the next African icon and I know not whence to start, but certainly not here at home.

Democracy.  This past week, Henry Djaba, father of NPP National Women’s Organizer Otiko Djaba plus a few many siblings, died.  He lived a good life I understand, and died a well-respected person in our society, considered rather wealthy throughout his long walk through time.

But I was neutered when I heard that the NPP polling and constituency executive elections were to be postponed in the Eastern Region in order that Otiko could celebrate her grief.  I had not focused on how large and long Henry Djaba was in death, that the NPP chose to halt a scheduled democratic process of such critical importance in order that a funeral ceremony, which is going to run for days if not months, could be attended by one of theirs.

Same way we look askance when funeral corteges on the streets of Ghana move a casket to the cemetery, we stop traffic and run amok with motor bikes and other rickety trotros and taxis, horns blaring, that living beings should stay their business because we have to get the dead body to the grave before 2pm; lest the gods be upset.  And this is a belief we hold in the country.  Nationally, we believe in witchcraft and juju.  We do.  Both Traditionalists and Supreme Being Religions.

Our version of Christianity is constantly invoking God to strike down evil ones who persecute loved ones, blocking their chances of breaking the poverty chain and preventing them from garnering their right to wealth and prosperity.  We go to Church praying that this day, we will finally find the person(s) responsible for our Freudian repression.

If you do not believe me, call on the “Ntam Kese”, or swear on “Antoa Nyamaa” and witness the drama.  Our ambassador to the USA did so once, as also JJ Rawlings when he challenged that swearing the Antoa was more powerful than a lie detection machine after giving one of his so called “boom” speeches, all of which have no substance in historicity.

So with confidence borne out of a cultural “sunsum” wrap, Mr. Akwasi Addai, aka Odike swore (bodua) antoa nyamaa deity on the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief and the Chief of Asokwa for pulling down his illegal “no permit” property, which he was erecting in the pathway of the Asokwa Interchange-Ahoodwo Roundabout road, a major road development secured from hard negotiations with donors.

Odike was charged in court.  He was also subsequently fined by the Asantehemaa for bringing the name of the Antoa into disrepute.  Double Jeopardy?  I think there is protection against this, the last time I looked it up.  Unless of course we are building a society where you can foul the traditional and also the civil courts for the same offence.  Is this what we want to do?

We also mob-lynch people in this country, soon as we yell “hee djulor”, without recourse to a trial to establish the innocence or otherwise of the alleged thief.  Sometimes he has maybe stolen about eight hundred cedis or less and we exchange his life, depriving him of any opportunity to be rehabilitated

And what happens to the culprits who carry out the lynching?  Do we ever follow up to see if we really executed a guilty party?

These issues are linked to the lawlessness we are creating, placing what seem to be cultural values ahead of civil obedience and rule of law.

But even more sinister was when Merchant Bank acquirers Fortiz, announced as if they were the oversight body for mergers and acquisitions in the country, that they now own Merchant Bank.  Never mind that there is an injunction in court, they deemed it their right to tell the rest of us that they have bought a bank.

But if I were to buy a bank, I would use it as a political tool to perpetuate my rule as a political party in Ghana.  I would lend money to my party affiliates, enrich them with ten percent top-ups so I can fill the party coffers, knowing full well that I need not declare any audited statements as required by law.

I would lend money to engineers who plan and work at major construction digs, and can develop infrastructure at inflated costs, helping to build a family of business associates, all linked in hegemony and periodic sibylline elections.

I would look to a major agricultural program to fund, and in my case I particularly favor cashew farming, a crop in which we can excel if managed properly and treated as a business rather than taint it with political pillars.

My Board will be carefully chosen from past Governors of the Central Bank, but preferably someone who can make it to vice president in the country, based on knowledge, expertise and allegiance, someone who even though non-descript for decades will emerge from a sleeping cell and ensure that my purchase will be approved with little fuss and cost.

I will not choose for my Board, persons who cannot keep secrets and might jeopardize my acquisition with loose comment on how to influence wise councilors and create mayhem in my camp.

My corporate website will be light and uninformed and disclose very little of my Board, so as to avoid nosy persons trying to create links between my directors and other associates, especially those on other National Boards such as SSNIT, SEC, GSE and BOST and VLTC.  Ah, let me not forget VRA.  Sorry, you have to check the acronyms yourself, but they all exist.

But most of all, I want persons who when they retire or run out of Government appointment time, will serve on the Board in my bank, a wealth of experience, an opportunity for me to reward them handsomely for keeping me in history.  And I will get me a lawyer who can make all this happen.

So If I were to buy a bank, I would buy Merchant Bank Ghana Limited.  Simple and easy.  The shareholders are not really focused on money, they will accept the lowest bid going as long as I am a Ghanaian and well known to the people of this country; and I think I am.  The true owners of the Bank will never hold the Trustees of the Fund accountable for their stewardship, how they invest their funds, and whether I buy it for a loss or not will not hurt my sensibilities.

But I am a contributor to the Fund and continuous deterioration in the investment portfolio will hurt me, hurt my fellow contributors and ultimately my pension drawdown will suffer when I can ill afford it at eighty something and I finally give up working.

But nah, why should I care?  I can live for today and may tomorrow be millennia away.  My state pension fund will give me about ghc150 a month if I am lucky and in 2024 it will be worth about ten cedis in present terms.

So we are headed for Brasil.  I can pay for traveling supporters using the employee’s welfare fund.  Who will dare to check?

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa.  Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

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One Response to “If I Were To Buy A Bank. Critical News, 15th December 2013”

  1. Aaron said

    I think we all should aspire to own banks at a point in our lives preferably,merchant bank style.great piece Sydney.

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