What a way to end 2018 and begin 2019!

BY: Colin Essamuah
 Jean Mensa — EC Boss
Jean Mensa — EC Boss

Only two things seized my attention at the end of the past year, giving full flavour to the whole year of politics, economics, society and religion, the entire fabric of our lives as Ghanaians.

The new year 2019, only days old began with a carry over from the banking restructuring last year which is nonetheless very important to how our leaders perceive and solve our problems.

The two matters that ended 2018 were the referendum creating of six new regions, and the lavish dinner party hosted by the churches, so-called, in furtherance of the idea of the national cathedral.

The third matter which began this year is the matter of bank closures, recapitalisation and restructuring, seemingly bringing some finality, as loose ends are tied up by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the government in this gut-wrenching matter.

It is always fascinating watching political parties, which tout divine belief in property-ownership seeking the benefits of what ideologically it is opposed to;

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In truth, that is what is happening to our government as our self-confessed capitalists preach the virtues of social democracy and claim to be better social interventionists than the acclaimed social democrats in our society.

It is so bizarre, such as a pagan or heathen quoting the Bible as the true path to salvation which in itself is not a pagan’s ambition. Are we witnessing in our own lifetime the ideological re-orientation of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), or political opportunism in masquerade?

Referendum

On the first two matters, I will quote from a statement issued by Daniel Batidam, the anti-corruption crusader, who incidentally featured in my last epistle last year.

I must confess I have spoken with Batidam on telephone once in my life but have never met him before, but I agree with some of his views on the two matters. His statement was issued two days after the referendum on December 29, 2018, and captured the essential contours of my own thinking on these matters.

“Today, December 29, in the year of our Lord 2018, I am scared for Ghana, my motherland’’  -- so begins Batidam in his statement. “Two things have happened in the past two days of the Nana Akufo-Addo-led NPP  administration that got me scared:’’ referencing the referendum, its conduct and results, and the cathedral dinner at which the revelation for its inspiration was made public for the first time.

On the referendum, he relied on the extremely problematic assessment of the Coalition of Election Observers which questioned the overuse of the manual system for voter verification rather than the biometric which was available.

This of course, defeats the NPP argument in opposition campaigning for biometric voting system in years past spearheaded by the then Danquah Institute head, Gabriel Otchere-Darko. In addition, the percentages of voter participation in the 90 percentile range also came in for condemnation as unrealistic because they had no basis in our history of elections. North Korean and Afghanistan results were procured with these machinations.

You do not have to be a supporter or opponent of either side to strongly deplore such unlawful practices which detract from the integrity of the referendum. As a matter of fact, the two leading political parties had in the 2016 campaign, given indications that such creations were not unwelcome.

What then was the need for these crude illegalities which will definitely form the basis for questioning and doubting the whole idea?

This is unfortunate and unnecessary as they will lead logically in the course of time to deliberate balkanisation of the polity by politicians, including Ashanti and Eastern regions. If we were honest with this, the best non-partisan method is to collapse all regional borders and redraw and re-create all regions from scratch, and not to have this clear charade and sham.

The interesting revelation by Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams that the cathedral idea was a personal vow made to God by our President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to thank Him for making him President is also problematic on several grounds.

What other personal vows had been made to God and mere mortals for whose realisation, state resources would be commandeered willy-nilly to fulfil?

Even more critically, why should we hear about a personal vow to God at all? What kind of pharisaic Christianity is this? I can assure our President that the so-called men of God will destroy his vow eventually.

First task

I have said enough initially about the bank matter for one to draw conclusions. My take is that our government’s first task is to save the jobs of the people who found themselves working in such enterprises.

It is not the job of government to obviously target some directors and shareholders in a kind of boardroom shenanigans and leave the poor, hapless workers uncatered for. So far what is happening and has happened has followed the rumour script which is not good for the future.

Ex-minister, ex-governor Dufuor has been driven out of banking while Universal Merchant Bank which could afford to support government programmes with GH¢100 million is being saved, just as the acclaimed partisan Prudential Bank has also been saved.

The number of banks has not been pruned to efficient, prudential levels, whatever that means, because they cannot be too many capitalists in a capitalist country.

One cannot hide behind curtains of prudence and efficiency to do things which are clearly self-serving and dangerous for the future. Where are the displaced bank workers in all this fascination with financial prudence?  

The same applies to any holistic comparison of the DKM and Menzgold sagas. Both violated regulations and survived to harm ordinary depositors whose faith in the financial system have been severely damaged.

How we eventually resolve all these to inure to our collective, not partisan, advantage and prosperity will tax us in the new year. Happy New Year.
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