How can we trust 'our own?'
Within the past ten years, many Ghanaians have suffered a lot from their "own" entrepreneurs.
This spans from ridiculous contract sums to project disappearance and now from one fraud to the other with the ordinary citizen, losing millions of Ghana Cedis in the name of investing in Ghanaian owned businesses.
It appears scams are gradually gaining roots in our system with authorities struggling to stump it. I'm even tempted to say that some of the faces behind these scams had support from people entrusted with the duty to protect the ordinary citizen on the streets.
The National Fish Brigade is one of the scams that took many Ghanaians by surprise. This is because of the calibre of people who were behind the company. The company had listed in its brochure some respected Ghanaians, including men of God, politicians, business moguls, opinion leaders and the likes as its members of the Advisory Board.
Many of the people who saw the list of the advisory board of the company could not resist the temptation of trusting them and therefore rushed into investing with the company. Just like other scams, the company folded up in no time at all and several thousands of Ghanaians had their investments locked up. Many of the customers died whilst others became paupers.
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Sadly, nothing was done to the owners and advisory board of the company. They are walking as free men and women, enjoying their booty while thousands of poor Ghanaians who bought the idea and invested in it are still lamenting.
Similarly, shortly after the collapse of the National Fish brigade, came the US Tilapia. The then Vice president, John Mahama was privileged to commission the building housing the company. A few months later, they also defrauded Ghanaians. While this was on-going, DKM was also collecting money from people. Many people died as a result of DKM scandal.
The NDC and NPP got on each other as usual; they made “noise” and never found solution to the scandals. There were other small scandals in the villages which went unnoticed and did not get media attention. While all these were going on, Menzgold was operating without the required authorisation or license to do what it has done, according to the regulators.
How can we trust "our own" with all these scams and scandals? My difficulty is with our leaders and the security agencies. Before a minister or District Chief Executive is appointed to be a board member of a company, enough background checks should be done on the such company. Before the president commissions or visit a private set-up, investigations should be done.
Finally, before someone visits the presidency and any other important personality in our country, enough background checks should be done on that individual. This is because people have trust in their leaders and when their leaders give endorsement to businesses or individuals, they (the citizens) also believe in such persons and entities. But our leaders have failed us in all these.
How can we trust our "own" when all they do is to steal from us? Many Ghanaians these days fear to do business with Ghanaian owned enterprises due to the numerous scams that have taken place and continue to come up.
The call for us to believe in Ghana by our President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is likely to fail if we don’t stop these fruadulent businesses, milking monies from the poor citizens in our country.
If our leaders continue to associate themselves with some of the faces behind these fraudulent schemes like we have seen in the past and continue to witness, many genuine Ghanaian business men and women will rather suffer the punishment of these conmen in the near future. Many Ghanaians are gradually losing interest in Ghanaian owned businesses for fear of getting their investments locked up.
Element of greed
I get sad when I hear some people describe the victims of ponzi schemes as greedy people, particularly when such comments come from politicians. Who in Ghana is greedier than our politicians? A politician who supervises and approves for the payment of a deteriorating project isn’t greedy? Why do we describe individuals who have become victims in companies portrayed by politicians as credible as greedy?
I believe that many Ghanaians went to invest in Menzgold because of the endorsement the owner received from our politicians and some influential Ghanaians, including chiefs and religious clerics.
If politicians cannot help the victims, please stop insulting them. The citizens have learnt the greed from politicians. Politicians make in a year millions of Ghana cedis and own property from the same salary like any other citizen yet citizens cannot feed their families with what they are paid. People who cannot become politicians and steal would want easy means like menzgold.
We are all the problem. Let us together find solution and stop the name calling. To get our citizens back to trust Ghanaian owned businesses, all individuals behind ponzi schemes and other fraudulent businesses should be made to face the law.
The writer is a Development Practitioner