It has become increasingly clear and, yes, embarrassingly so, that Article 71 of the country’s 1992 Constitution is in dire need of a radical revision. Indeed, it is ironic that it is the very people who shot and rigged their way into the erstwhile Osu Castle and, presently, the Jubilee-Flagstaff House, on the motto of “Probity, Accountability, Transparency and Justice” who have today made a “constitutional culture” out of taking the hardworking but scarcely economically comfortable Ghanaian taxpayer to the cleaners, as New Yorkers are wont to say (See “Review Provisions of Article 71 – Occupy Ghana” Citifmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/11/17).
I have absolutely no doubt in mind that this insufferably unconscionable means of savagely siphoning the limited resources of the country for the benefit of the topmost few, was made possible when, if memory serves me right and accurately, the leaders of the then-political opposition allegedly launched a massive boycott of the Constituent Assembly, or some such apparatus established for the drafting and ratification of our present constitutional instrument. And so practically speaking, there clearly appears to be enough blame to go around.
The sort of wanton political scam-artistry allegedly being indulged by former President John Dramani Mahama, in the form of his inexcusably outrageous demand to be gifted the official residence of the Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, makes immitigable British colonial exploitation of the Gold Coast of yesteryear seem like the most selfless act of political volunteerism that ever happened to the generation of our great-grandparents and our parents, for the most part. In the latest racket, we learn that the official residence in question was originally the property of the former Ghana Cocoa-Marketing Board, and that it was used as a Guest House. I am of the opinion that the latter real-estate property ought not to have been alienated or commandeered from the CMB by any member of the Executive branch of government, to begin. This is tantamount to the most arrogant display of executive power, and strikingly reminds one of the seizure of the official residence of the Chief of the Defense Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, that is, the original Flagstaff House, by then-Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah in 1958 or thereabouts.
And so if I were afforded the privilege, I would advise President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to have the property promptly renovated and returned to the present management of the so-called Cocobod. The evidently facile and decidedly erratic and promiscuous habit of rampant and indiscriminate Executive cannibalization of public property is not helping any remarkably with the instilling of discipline in the institutional establishment of the leadership of our country, both individually and collectively. I was also amused to learn that the former Mahama Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Omane-Boamah, one of the two then-junior ministers in the Atta-Mills government and the executive front men who defied the Wood Supreme Court, in the matter of the Obetsebi-Lamptey public property acquisition cause célèbre, was also at the forefront of this patently criminal affair.
And so the overwhelming majority of Ghanaian voters ought to pat themselves on the back for successfully jack-booting these veritable white-collar thieves out of the Jubilee-Flagstaff House and onto the gray, or nebulous, margins of political opposition, from where they ought to never have been released into the mainstream of our national political culture. Indeed, the pointedly boorish behavior of the self-proclaimed former “Presidential Spare Tire,” in attempting to permanently occupy and own the official residence of the Vice-President of Ghana, that was first occupied by the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama, by the way, is more than boorish. To be certain, it is nothing short of the most primitive or the worst form of political barbarism. There is also a glaring element of abject disrespect for Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia. It is almost as to say that the latter was not qualified to occupy the old post of the Moscow-trained former Rawlings Communications Minister.
One also wonders whether Mr. Mahama has ever spent a split-second’s moment of his life to fathom if he would have ever had the privilege of occupying the subject landed and real-estate property, if Mr. Aliu Mahama had also demanded to be ceded the same at the end of his relatively far more progressive and prosperous 8-year tenure as Vice-President of Ghana. And would Mr. Mahama cotton up to the idea of the now-President Akufo-Addo’s demanding to be gifted the Jubilee-Flagstaff House at the end of his tenure, because he has become more comfortable residing there than in his longtime Nima residence? Maybe a Constitutional Amendment to Article 71 or, better yet, the article spelling out the qualifications of any prospective President of Ghana or Presidential Candidate, ought to require anybody aspiring to the highest office of the land to own his/her own real-estate property or home before applying for the job.
Indeed, even as Mr. Ace Anan Ankomah, the co-convener of the Occupy Ghana pressure group, poignantly observed the other day, short of such basic work-related needs as personal security detail, every Ghanaian politician, from the President downwards, must be made to pay some of his/her income into a social security fund, like most of the rest of Ghanaian public and civil servants. The quadrennial “constitutional” scam of paying ex-gratia awards to parliamentarians and other members of government, namely, the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature, must be promptly revoked. In any functional democracy, equality of citizenship ought to mean precisely that.
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