Business in Ghana

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Angels, Wheel Spanners and a Budget. Critical News, 23rd November 2014

Posted by Business in Ghana on November 23, 2014

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

I was on my way to a meeting on Wednesday, round about 5pm. Traffic was heavy and I was running late. I needed to speed up, but there was a funny clunking noise every time I stepped on the brakes. It got louder as I eased back and in panic I called a rescue mechanic for help.

I listened with horror and dread as the noise grew louder, concerned about the cost of a major brake overhaul on a Mercedes in this crisis; I broke in sweat even with the air condition blowing.

Suddenly without any sympathy for my safety, my front left wheel flew off, traveling opposite to my steering, heading for the huge gutter to my left. The front of the car ditched and I heard the grating of the brake discs on the tarred road, me struggling to hold on to the steering wheel and remembering some rudimentary driving tactics, “don’t step on the brakes!”

As the car ground to a halt, I watched helplessly, the tire carrying its momentum on its own selfish, mindless way, finally lodged under a culvert far away. Lookers-on were more aghast than me as I gently stepped out of the car to assess the damage.

There was only one bolt remaining on the tire and it was shorn off the wheel. I could see the wrenched bolt end in the socket and none of the other four were any place around.

It suddenly hit me that someone had tampered with the car.

I traced back to how I had spent my day, and clearly there had been lots of opportunity. Many meetings, lots of off-curb and side street parking, busy side streets, lonely places while meeting indoors and it could have been anywhere.

But I was safe, not a scratch and I was calm. I had things #Occupying my mind.

Which is how we found ourselves on Thursday afternoon, part two of #OccupyCorruption at the Christ The King chapel hall. Kwasi Prempeh spoke on “Democratizing Corruption”, Elizabeth Ohene gave us real life examples of corruption, Kweku Baako added his voice and support to the cause and we were on our way to crowning off with Bishop Palmer Buckle, when young forty-seven year old birthday boy Ace Ankomah took the podium by storm.

We served notice to the Auditor General last week that we intend filing a writ of mandamus should he not disallow and surcharge culprits he has identified in his reports, who have misappropriated our money.

He acknowledged our letter and told us we did not know what we were doing. So we are preparing to join battle as the clock counts down to the 30-day (20 days remaining) limit we filed as per the law.

We also reminded him that there is a statute of limitations regarding this procedure and he must act immediately as the clock ticks and money needlessly falls out of our pockets.

Now, #OccupyGhana has some of the finest legal brains in its team, we are very committed to our cause and we are more determined than ever that we will find a way to make governors of this country respond to the citizens. It’s a powerful concoction and anyone looking from the outside-in must be concerned.

And we were very focused on this until an angel appeared to confuse us.

Ruby, Naayele, Angel, Ametefeh. All the names just sound like aliases. The intrigue, fantasy, fascination of links to highly connected politicians and using VVIP lounges to smuggle cocaine into the UK of all places, hogged the airwaves for the week.

My best story was the denial by Communications Minister Omane Boamah when he denied the Narcotics Board and pointed fingers at the British for possible lying about their role in the arrest.

Ruby? Was carrying 12.5kg of cocaine into Heathrow. That weighs the same as a quarter bag of cement.

The story is still gathering legs and I wonder whether hard talking, outspoken Executive Director of Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) Akrasi Sarpong has something to say about this matter.

On The Big Issue on Saturday morning I asked Akrasi to come out and tell us what he knows. You can’t have so much contradiction in a high profile case such as this and not be given answers. That is what the anti-corruption is all about.

Ruby has been linked to the President’s brother by Kennedy Agyepong and there is much rumor surrounding her from Holland to Nigeria, from Kumasi to Accra offices of Cocobod, through VVIP to Heathrow and everywhere on social media,. You don’t even have to look.

And while all this was going on, we read a budget. Ei, Ghana can get exciting. The lights went out in Parliament House and the Speaker was concerned that there is dumsor in this country. But they wouldn’t know would they? Their backsides are on comfortable Chinese chairs, even though these are breaking everyday and they don’t pay their electricity bill.

All this put President Mahama in a sacking mood. Out went the ECG boss, out went the Governing Board of NACOB, but while he was at it, some military officers allegedly brutalized protesting students in a Wa Islamic Senior High School.

Now three MPs have decided to sue GNPC over a $700million facility they (GNPC) are negotiating for exploration and other development.

But all this is not intended to stop the country from developing and growing its infrastructure. The problem is no one trusts this Government any more. Even good programs are made out to be conduits of corruption.

The “Boko Haram” Daboya MP apologized to Ghanaians for his belief in stoning as a means to curb female adultery and we allowed him to go scot-free on that basis.

My disappointment is with the women who did not hit the streets and insist the man lose his position in Parliament and excommunicate him from the region.

When we fail to exact harder punishment for stupidity, we provide opportunity for many idiots to think their place in governance gives them a platform for supplementary ignorance.

I am not writing on the 2015 budget, I will take my time and do a proper and thorough review and publish it separately. I listened avidly on Wednesday and I still can’t find a silver lining anywhere. Media has been hogged by the 17.5% VAT on petroleum products but as we noted on Saturday morning, the introduction of the tax through a budget statement must apply to 2015. Can’t seem to understand how it went through as an emergency bill.

This Government is too insincere to the people of Ghana. I can’t find the moral compass they are negotiating; seems their earth is tilted in a different direction, always heading “corruption north”.

Going into the weekend, there was a lot of chatter that the IMF program is rocky and the teams have had to take a step back in order that they can fashion the program a lot more efficiently.

The Black Stars beat Togo 3-1 and qualified for AFCON 2015, now set for Equatorial Guinea, where there is no Ebola. But sadly the Starlets are out of competition for two years for fielding over-age players. Whoever it was who knew we had over-age players and did not correct it, is still walking free on the Guinea Coast. No dishonor.

But why would anyone want me out of the way? My work is not finished. All I say is, lets do things properly and get this country to a point where we can all be proud that we solved our problems as Ghanaians, we fashioned solutions to all our problems by ourselves and we are proudly the leading nation in sub-Sahara Africa.

I want that pride of place in my time. Does that warrant an attempt on my life? Maybe I am stepping on a few toes in the quest to get to this point, but there is no need to loosen the bolts on my car tires, make it look like I am a careless person who lost control of his car and needlessly threw away my life. Taking a wheel spanner to my tire is not the answer.

I still have lots to do, I am not ready to depart; so please let me reach a decent critical point. I don’t have too much time left, another four decades if I am lucky and I myself will go quietly.

Ghana, Aha a ye din papa. Alius atrox week advenio. Another terrible week to come!

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