Letter to Jomo: Pinkies, con men and London dry gin

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The Writer - George Sydney AbugriWhere might a near-famished Ghanaian with a churning, growling digestive tract and an excited, salivating palate help himself to the most sumptuous traditional Ghanaian dishes ever to grace a chef’s menu, Jomo? Right here in Ghana, where else? Dead wrong for no score, I am afraid. The unlikely answer is London!

Some of the greatest Ghanaian traditional dishes you will ever taste anywhere on this planet are served in eateries run by Ghanaians in London:  A non-Ghanaian who tasted them, once noted of Ghanaian dishes in London restaurants, that they are among London’s greatest immigrant cuisines and that most of them incorporate “spicy, hearty and tasty stews with robust side dishes.”

There is a wide range to choose from: Banku, omo tuo, fufu, ampesi, jollof, waakye, kenkey and well, why not, Apapransa.

Most of these eateries incorporate pubs and there is often a broad range of beers, brandies and whisky for those patrons who claim their only sin is gin, and who insist that a shot or two at the table do the taste buds greatly excite. Anyhow, London eateries serving Ghanaian dishes are some of the places where resident and visiting Ghanaians are likely to meet unexpectedly.

A chance meeting between two Ghanaians in the plush restaurant of a top class hotel in London, on the other hand, is not what you might expect on the average day and it gets even more curious if one of them is the president of Ghana and the other a former presidential candidate, who at the time of the chance meeting, is seeking to get the Supreme Court of his country to nullify the former’s election.

We might be forgiven for concluding that fate and circumstance must be playing a prank of sorts on the lives of the two men.

While you won’t catch me promulgating the principles of metaphysics, you will have an up mountain task trying to convince me that coincidences exist anywhere outside the imagination of the chap who wrote the English dictionary:  

Consider the scenarios which trustworthy sources claim, unfolded at the Churchill Hyatt Regency Hotel in the West End of Central London this week involving Ghana’s arch partisan political rivals of the moment:

Nana Akufo-Addo, who was in London for some scheduled engagements and a routine medical checkup, is seated in the plush restaurant of the Wyatt with his missus Madame Rebecca at lunch time, see? Now, guess who shows up in the restaurant with an entourage in diplomatic tow? President John Mahama!

When the first citizen of the most controversial republic on the west coast of Africa is seated, Akufo-Addo rises, walks over to the president and says “Hello, Mr. President.” “Hello, Nana Addo,” says Mr. President.

The two then chat awhile and resume their seats or so we gather. Fantastic, Jomo. Absolutely fantastic. You can’t help wishing that kind of camaraderie had played out back at home since the disputed presidential election in December 2012.

Akufo-Addo returned on Wednesday night and legal hostilities will resume at the hearing of his petition at the Supreme Court seeking to nullify more than four million votes scored to the incumbent’s tally at the election.

The forces of confusion are playing monkey games with matters relating to the exact number of pinkies{“pink sheets”} filed by the petitioners to support their charge of rigging but the Supreme Court, I dare stake a modest wager, is more than capable of dispensing unadulterated justice, ask former Attorney-General Martin Amidu, who has been the toast of the republic this week:

Amidu fought and won a lone ranger’s spirited battle at the Supreme Court,presided over by another panel, where he prayed the court to make people who had managed to help themselves to loads of public cash with a little help from smart lawyers and people who were supposed to protect the public purse.

The Supreme Court granted some of the reliefs Amidu sought in his suit and ordered the construction firm Waterville Holdings to refund 25 million euros to the state, a tidy sum by all accounts to have back in the national treasury.

Corruption comes in a myriad of hues but nothing beats the variety that involves creating illicit wealth practically out of nothing and then proceeding to share in coded ratios and percentages:

You have probably heard of the bizarre tale of judgment debts in Ghana: In less than four years, the government paid US$450 million in judgment debts to individuals and organisations.

The NDC administration has claimed that some of the judgment debts it paid out were inherited from the Kufuor administration.

The picture that has emerged is one of a flawed system of public accounting and financial administration that has been exploited by a clandestine network of powerful business people in collusion with government bureaucrats, technocrats and lawyers, to fleece us to the bone. Now the game is up. At least, I hope so.

It would only be fair if the state hands Amidu a decent percentage of the cash in compensation for the vitriolic attacks on his integrity and person when he first set out on his crusade to get the cash back.

He might use the rest of the money to drink some beer and shop for bush meat, dawadawa and Keta school boys for his missus to cook some pepper soup for him to eat and stay fit and wise, so that he can continue to catch for us, any smart fellows who engage in such scamtastic deals against the republic.

I recall the Attorney-General Dr. Ben Kumbour warning the nation to brace up for more trial judgment debts that were to be slapped on the government. The emerging national response is “no way.”

The Supreme Court has declined jurisdiction over the case in which Amidu is seeking to have businessman and Waterville project partner, Alfred Woyome, refund GH¢ 51 million paid to him by the state as judgment debt and the public is waiting in suspense to see what happens next.

Next Monday, officials and heads of various organisations will begin trooping to the sittings of a commission which has been appointed to probe other judgments debts. They will be asked questions relating to how the state came to be saddled with some of the debts and I daresay, it will be most interesting listening to the answers.

Article by George Sydney Abugri

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