By JayJay D. Segbefia, NAV
Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power. – P. J. O’Rourke, American Political Satirist and Journalist
This is the exact quote that came to mind, you see, when I read the press statement of the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) confirming that it had approved the payment of ex-gratia to four former top employees. Earlier on, former Energy Minister K.T Hammond had led a media assault on the GNPC, revealing that the total ex-gratia was in excess of not much.
Just 3.6 million Ghana Cedis.
For four persons?
For what national offense exactly?
Are We Getting Punked?
So I picked up a glass of carrot juice (the alternative is alcohol, which destroys brain cells and turns intellectuals into imbeciles, but I presume you’re smart enough to know that), grabbed an old laptop (a dumsor-resistant Acer; an egregious noise-maker) and began to sift through the news to find out what stupidity could possibly possess us to part ways with that kind of cash without consultation with the good ole doctor (I speak of Dr. Common Sense, of course).
I began with the five journalistic W’s and the H – Who, What, Where, When, Why and How (although I was pretty certain that I’d be grabbing my hair in the end and tearing it out).
Four names popped up as the recipients of such largess: Tsatsu Tsikata (huh?), Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye (yiee!), Benjamin Dagadu (maybe the GNPC’s baker?) and a woman – a certain Esther Cobbah (wife extraordinaire of Tsatsu Tsikata).
My interest lies in Tsatsu: The old dude’s lawyerly backside was hauled to jail to serve sentence for three egregious counts of willfully causing financial loss to the State as GNPC CEO between 1988 and 2000. He was pardoned after a sad asthma attack by President Kuffour but he refused to accept the pardon (and refused to return to the jail the first refusal would have ‘unrefusedly’ granted). Five years later, he helped Mahama and the NDC escape the humiliation of being hauled off the goat-skinned throne as the president and party which rigged the 2012 elections. As far as the public is concerned, and unless Tsatsu was the one whose pee turned into the crude oil Kuffour discovered later on, he has never set foot in the GNPC since.
Yet we doled out 1 million Ghana Cedis to him as ex-gratia?
Especially since, under his tenure, GNPC was so ran-down you couldn’t pay the cost of a rat’s pedicure with its finances? Do these people think we wash our faces in the direction of the sky? Notice also that none of these ex-officials made any known demands pursuant to any contract of employment when they were booted out of the GNPC.
This is the part of the whole debacle that has me flummoxed. Which of the misbegotten NDC members working in the GNPC right now would have doled out that much cash like free gari and sugar if the money was their own? That it belonged to the state made it easier to donate generously, even when not asked? Apparently, where NDC leadership is concerned, it is easy to be generous with other people’s money and dish out the Republic’s scarce resources.
It’s a freaking Rip-Off
Let’s back track a bit to a certain Betty-Mould Iddrisu. Her website describes her as an African woman of inspirational vision but, “unlike many visionaries, she achieves her goals, pursuing them with courage, energy and dedication and leads other women to do the same” (I better end the quote right here before I puke).
Well, this woman was Ghana’s Attorney-General from 2009 until 2011 when a certain Woyome fella walked up to her, demanding he be paid 51 Million Ghana Cedis for (essentially) no work done (except he had these cool glasses on his face, you see, that bamboozled Betty. Especially by how cutely he rolled his eyelashes at her while he made his demand. The poor Betty blushed through her dark skin like a junior high school girl on a date, giggled sweetly, her bosom heaving with the promises of treasures unprintable, and handed over the money. Cash goes where blush is, I tell ya).
Even when a High Court had asked for only a third part of the money to be paid under an undertaking that it would be returned if fella Woyome lost the case, Betty paid the darn total sum. If not love-struck, how could such perfidy be explained? But I digress.
After all this Betty, wearing gold rings on each finger with the air of one to whom the gods had favoured above all else, wasn’t handcuffed like a petty criminal, divested of all her vanities and trinkets, giving an ID hair-cut and thrown into a rat-infested jail where her fat cheeks would have stopped wobbling with each step.
She got off with nothing but a mere “ignorant” tag and, by definition, not personally liable for the great loss of 51 Million Ghana Cedis (thank God for the Martin Amidu’s of Ghana by whom the loss was repudiated).
My point? Ghana tops my list of easier-to-rip-off countries in Africa. It has been proven over and over again that any fool with half-a-teaspoon of brains can walk into the government machinery and make out with whatever cash he/she/it wants. The list is endless of those who have done it – and continue to do it. Supervised, no doubt, by a president whose claim to fame and the annals of Ghanaian political history is shameful incompetence.
Meanwhile, in Nigeria & Elsewhere
About 500 politicians, officials and businessmen have been jailed as part of a campaign against waste and corruption, while thousands more continue to chase President Buhari with stolen-money pay-back offers. In Tanzania, Magufuli (sounds like a Kungfu panda phrase) has cut out wastage in government to increasingly dwindling proportions, to the point of scrapping Independence Day celebrations (what is there to celebrate in Ghana, for instance, when our lights can barely stay on for more than 12 hours?)
We have many examples of how to deal with mediocrity, stupidity, corruption and greed right here on the continent, but how precisely do we expect the news of such successes to make more impact when a sharp knife hardly makes a dead goat twitch?
We Can’t Continue Like This
In the words of Popeye, “I’ve had all I can stands and I can’t stands no more.”
I expect that, at some point, Ghanaians won’t tolerate crap such as the developing GNPC scandal anymore. I expect that one day, we might also have us a Buhari, a Magufuli or, failing all these, a Ouattara who, at least, will bring economic development and stop the nonsense we get fed-on on a daily basis. I expect that something will give way and force such a sweeping change that Ghana will retain its overly-lost glory.
Until then, you let me just keep dreaming.
But there’s no way we should take the Tsatsu-gate scandal lying down.
If we do, we’ll need to be tested in concentration camps for undiluted stupidity.