ANALYSIS: It is time for steel to cut steel – By Dr Michael J.K. Bokor

The writer, Dr Michael J.K. Bokor
Where are the real patriots of Ghana? Join me to say a very big “kudos” to the Government of Ghana for demonstrating the guts that might have eluded it all this while in its response to matters concerning its political opponents.

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The government says it will not sell the controversial state land and bungalow former Minister and NPP Chairman, Jake Obetesbi-Lamptey, is said to have bought (Myjoyonline, May 24, 2012).

A statement by the Information Ministry says Cabinet took the decision at its meeting today, describing the decision to be “in the supreme interest of the people of Ghana, and taking cognisance of the Supreme Court ruling in the matter of Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey’s immoral acquisition of a state property he occupied as a Minister of State.” 

The Statement is entitled “Government Will Not Sell Property to Jake Obetsebi Lamptey” and signed by Information Minister, Fritz Baffour. Its major import is that “The property in question thus continues to remain the property of the State.”

Hurray to morality and commonsense! And shame to the insensitive, greedy property grabbing demagogues parading as democrats and their backers in the anathema that they have turned the judiciary into.

If they were true democrats, they would operate in such a way as to live and let live; they will know the extent to which to take their self-acquisitiveness so as not to harm the interests of the very people whose sweat sustains the democracy; and they won’t exploit loopholes in the democratic dispensation to inflict harm on those ordinary Ghanaian tax payers. Shame on them, I say again with unprecedented alacrity!!

For once, steel will cut steel (“Dadie be twa dadie”) in Ghanaian politics. The swift decision by the Mills-led government to stamp its authority on this matter concerning public property is laudable. To all intents and purposes, it deserves commendation for coming out to act in the general interest of the country.

There is nothing illegal about the government’s move. It is the appropriate action to take in the best interest of the state and its citizens. Looking on for Obetsebi-Lamptey to acquire this property will be the worst disservice to have ever been done to the state.

If the Kufuor government could be so immoral and wicked as to divest the state of its assets, this one shouldn’t be seen as condoning that thievery. It is now time to take inventory of all state property and retrieve them from the wrong hands. No condition should be created for what belongs to us all to be taken over by a few greedy do-nothings parading the corridors of power.

I am extremely happy at this sudden turn of events. Now, the stage has been set for a showdown that should stretch the matter to its fullest limits. We’ll see how it will all unfold and how the mighty will fall.

Let’s see if Obetsebi-Lamptey will return to the Supreme Court for it to overturn the government’s decision. If he does, we should expect many twists and turns to test the strength and character of the judiciary itself. In the end, the public will rise up to defend its interests!!

Ayikoi Otoo, lawyer for Obetsebi-Lamptey has already given a hint that his client will advise himself over the government’s decision to repossess the bungalow “which was sold to him by the Kufuor administration.” What a cheap shot! But what do we expect from another property-grabbing democrat?

As for the aspect of his statement that the government’s decision is a “regrettable decision” and amounts to rolling back the gains the country has made under its present constitutional dispensation, the least said about it, the better.

What is this ridiculous reference to the “gains the country has made under its present constitutional dispensation”? Are these “gains” available to the citizens to enjoy as much as they have become the preserve of those unscrupulous politicians manipulating the system to serve their narrow and parochial interests?

Is Ayikoi Otoo so dishonest or unconscionable as to imply that Obetsebi-Lamptey’s acquisition of a public property “nicodemously” is acceptable, even at a time that no notice on the sale of that property was made available to the public for those capable of bidding for it to put in their stake?

Again, is he saying that of all needy Ghanaians, Obetsebi-Lamptey is the most fortunate to acquire that property and turn it into a commercial venture, even when public officials face acute accommodation problems that neither the Kufuor government nor the incumbent has been able to solve?

His flight into this aspect of the matter to suggest that the President has flouted the Constitution and faces impeachment is a clear demonstration of his frustration and mischief. He is just making a mockery of himself.

He has been quick to say that by provisions of the Constitution, neither the President nor Parliament has power to oppose decisions of the judiciary in whom judicial power is vested. But will Ayikoi Otoo tell us what the Kufuor government did when the Supreme/Appeal Court ruled that the former Immigration Service boss, Hodari Okine, be reinstated and his entitlements paid him?

The Kufuor government flouted that court’s order with impunity. Was that a clear case of disrespect for the judiciary to undermine the judiciary in our constitutional democratic dispensation? What was it about that court order that made it difficult for the Kufuor government to obey which makes it less important (or constitutionally mandated) than this case involving Obetsebi-Lamptey? Is one citizen more equal than the other in the eyes of the NPP leadership?

By this selective amnesia, this Ayikoi Otoo comes across as desperate and mindless of the implications of what he is complaining of.

In making this decision, the government has just taken the first step. It must go ahead to insulate all public property against this kind of white-collar thievery. I expect the government to either enunciate Executive Instruments to protect public property or to quickly initiate a bill to be placed before Parliament making it criminal for any public official to attempt acquiring public property, especially if the acquisition is motivated and made possible by political connections.

It is unfortunate that public officials into his care public property has been entrusted are the very people turning round to acquire such property under disturbing circumstances and using useless legal technicalities and the support of the judiciary to perpetuate fraud.

I consider this aspect of the Cabinet’s decision that no political appointee should ever be allowed to engage in any such unacceptable transaction as too weak to have any effect. It must go beyond a decision to be established as a legal injunction. What happens if this government leaves office and its decision is not binding on the new administration? Such decisions must be set in stone and enforced by legal means. That is why the need for legal action to reinforce the Cabinet’s decision is paramount.

The tide has surely turned against this Obetsebi-Lamptey, who might have joined his fellow property-grabbing democrats and well-wishers in the NPP fold to celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision supporting his acquisition of a state property. As Fate will have it, that celebration has turned out to be a short-lived Pyrrhic victory with dire implications.

The animated reaction to that verdict should tell every reasonable follower of the NPP that unlike other court cases in which some high-ranking NPP functionaries were exonerated, this particular one is peculiar and holds nothing worth counting as a political windfall. It is a victory whose boomerang effects will not redound to the NPP’s political fortunes.

I have already pored over the tons of comments on the verdict and can conclude that the repercussions won’t help the NPP in any way. Any member of that party thumping his chest now will live to rue it all when the dust settles.

Although the case may pass off as a purely personal one involving Obetsebi-Lamptey’s material interests, it has already assumed an overarching political dimension. It is so because it reflects and reinforces public perception of the damaging implications of the NPP’s property-grabbing democracy.

Ghanaians are making the connections and seeing the danger that they will expose themselves and the country’s assets to if they return the NPP to power at Election 2012.

President Mills may be accused of not being dynamic and assertive enough to provide the kind of leadership needed to galvanize the citizens or harness the country’s vast natural and human resources to solve the country’s problems; but they won’t just throw him out of office to bring in those whose conduct threatens the public good.

Obetsebi-Lamptey’s greed and disregard for morality (as he claimed yesterday not to be bothered in this case by moral issues) is a clear demonstration of the danger that the NPP’s property-grabbing democracy holds for us.

And it is only a matter of deep relief that the government has stepped in to cut short his mortifying greed. Such a character is a bad example and must be stopped in his stride before he corrupts others. Public property must remain public property for as long as it is needed to serve the public good.

The indecent zeal with which they are running around the political landscape pestering the electorate for their mandate to return to power is enough to forewarn me of what they have up their sleeves. Let’s be careful how we handle matters so as not to open ourselves to harm. The rampaging political wolves are just too hungry for my liking.

Rather irritatingly, these were the very people portrayed by the former Vice President (Aliu Mahama) as people who had already made their wealth before entering politics; and that they were not doing politics to enrich themselves. Nothing can be more insulting than this utterance.

Away with these marauding property-grabbing politicians who have no conscience to guide them in their self-acquisitiveness! Let’s cut them to size.

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