It is rather ironic that at a time when Ghanaians are beginning to acquire an enviable sophistication in the practice of democratic culture in the West African sub-region, that drug-trafficking should dominate the conduct of political campaigns. Dr. Kwasi Aning’s revelation, following a warning from the director of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) that politicians suspected of using drug money to prop up their electioneering campaigns would be hunted down and prosecuted, ought to come as an opportune shot in the arms of our robust, albeit fledgling, democratic political culture, as it were (See “Name And Shame Politicians Who Use Narcotic Money – Dr. Aning” MyJoyOnline.com 6/27/11).
According to the well-known security expert at the Kofi Annan Center, in the lead-up to Election 2008, he hinted at the great possibility of drug money having played a key role in the conduct of political campaigns, largely based on the profligate manner in which many an individual campaign was being conducted. It appears, however, that not much was done about the issue by state security agencies.
We have yet to be told why the various national security networks that were supposed to be non-partisan in orientation, at least in theory, failed to tackle the issue. And it goes without saying that Ghanaians have every right to be informed to this effect. For, needless to say, the staffs of our security agencies are paid with the public dole to guarantee the citizenry protection in return. And if it is also true that the major drug cartels have become better equipped than our navy and coast guard personnel to the embarrassing extent that between 8 to 15-percent of illegal drugs entering the European market get shipped from Ghana undetected by our security agents, then we also need to know what the Mills-Mahama government is doing to promptly stanch such flow. For not only is such trend dangerous to the local drug market, on the international front, it is injurious to the image of both Ghanaians at home and abroad.
Personally, while he is my hometown boy of sorts, nonetheless, I don’t trust the tough-talking director of NACOB, Mr. Yaw Akrasi Sarpong. Such distrust, of course, is hardly personal, for as a quite well-known Ghanaian history professor at Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana, once frankly told me, after having mischievously led me into believing that we actually shared more than a geographical location called Ghana, given the opportunity, I pretty much doubt that I would be able to tell the identity of Mr. Akrasi Sarpong from Adam. My judgment and appraisal of the credibility of the man, in essence, is almost wholly predicated on the NACOB director’s long association with the thoroughgoing corrupt regimes of the so-called Provisional National Democratic Congress (P/NDC). I have absolutely no doubt about the man being quite honest in his own way. Still, I can only go by the perennial and time-tested adage of associational guilt.
Needless to say, there is a method to the madness of the key operatives of the ruling National Democratic Congress, when one reckons the fact that during most of the period that Ghana has peaked as a major narcotics drug transshipment point into Europe and North America, largely the United States, it has been the NDC, chaperoned by Messrs. Rawlings and Mills, that has been at the helm of national affairs. Significantly and risibly, it has also been mainly Messrs. Rawlings and Mills who have pointed the longest index-fingers at the erstwhile Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) for being, somehow, uniquely responsible for the development and rapid expansion of the Ghanaian end of drug-trafficking.
The irony of the foregoing observation is that even as I write, President Mills’ Deputy Health Minister, Mr. Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, is a well-known big-time former consultant to a fugitive Venezuelan drug-cartel kingpin who, for several years as a fugitive, comfortably operated in Ghana with the full protection of the Rawlings-Mills government. In other words, having the tough-talking and one-time “Tar-Beetle”- or “Afro-Moses”-sporting Mr. Akrasi Sarpong head the Narcotics Control Board is like putting the proverbial cat in charge of a colony of mice.
The preceding, of course, is not to imply that the P/NDC has been solely responsible for the scandalous flourishing of the narcotics drug trade in the country. The case of the NPP parliamentarian by the name of Mr. Amoateng is all too fresh in the memory and glaring for comfort. And so, in reality, the most relevant question becomes: Precisely what is to be done to rid Ghana’s enviable democratic political culture of the fetid stench of the drug trade? And about the most effective answer is to have all legitimately registered electioneering politicians submit at least a quarterly audited account of their funding sources and expenditure to the Auditor-General’s Department for scrutiny.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of twenty-two books, including “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011).