By Franklin Cudjoe
For God and country, I salute beleaguered and disowned former Attorney-General, Mr. Martin Amidu. His successful lone crusade to seek a refund of $47m to the state from plunderers with state connections is a significant lesson in life. When people who can barely sweep the crumbs of your main meal throw dirt at you for doing your professional work, just keep keeping on in spite of whose ox is gored.
Sometimes, you will realise you are so lonely, you even wonder if you are not a psychiatric case, especially when you have to 'fight' an entire government that upon hindsight was wrong. Where ever President Mill's soul is, he must be saying to himself, 'I was wrong about Amidu".
Let me share in Amidu's glory and say that my small team at IMANI spent less than $50 in research costs to advise government that the $3bn Chinese Development Bank Loan was "no easy panacea" two-and-half years ago and that with the Chinese, when you do nothing, you will get nothing. We even provided EVIDENCE from other Chinese Development Bank engagements with other African countries that have been spectacularly dampening, solely due to the inaction of those African governments. We also advised that the agreements signed or not, meant little in value to a very meticulous Chinese Commercial Bank even with state-ownership, as that signalled the 'beginning' of the entire deal.
My colleagues at IMANI advised severally that the bundling of critical infrastructure projects like the gas facility into the master agreement was flawed strategy given the time-sensitiveness of that project.
But alas, the entire government descended on our very poor souls for saying the obvious. Nearly three years on, we are still struggling with the so-called contract, as that vaunted "Master Facility Agreement or was it Master FRAMEWORK Agreement" has been returned to Parliament for amendment, as it wasn't clearly facilitating or frame-working as it was originally thought.
We at IMANI remain unconvinced that the issues involved can be addressed simply by amending the agreement. There are commercial, operational and design flaws in several of the projects that make them unbankable and that even a new legal agreement cannot cure. Good examples are the Sekondi Industrial estate (China Hasan) and the ICT Platform for national security to exercise security oversight of the oil sector. Some of these projects are vague and do not deserve the tens of millions of dollars being voted for them. Others like the eastern railway project can be reviewed from a strategic perspective to ensure a more practical integration into our industrial infrastructure.
In the end, we are all embarrassed as an African country apparently rising. Folks, may our days , months and years on this earth never tire of professionalism and most important, respect for youth on this continent, as clearly, the youth in development, ICT especially and over all, the globally exposed are worth a million times more than our domesticated local champions who are fast mutating and dominating the economic and politic space. No! No! No!
Franklin Cudjoe, the writer, is Founding President of Ghanaian Think Tank, IMANI.