Taking (li)berties

May 15, 2017
Source: Nana Yaa Ofori-Atta/thebftonline.com
Taking (li)berties

The Auditor General’s annual unrequited love letter of lamentations has begun.  The Audit Service, was first established in 1910 and by its mandate, as confirmed by the 1992 Constitution, it is required to monitor the use and management of all public funds and report to Parliament. 

Seven reports duly delivered in April 2017.  The 25 member Public Accounts Committee, chaired by the Deputy Minority Leader Dr. James  Afedzi, are wading through them.

Ghana pays a premium to 275 members of Parliament whose constituencies morph across 216 local assemblies.  Cash payment irregularities in 96 of the assemblies that the Honourable Members are affiliated with, increased by 165% between the end of 2014 and 2015.  I ask you.  Who exactly did you vote for? 

The preface of the report on the District Assemblies Common Fund begins with this sheepish bleat: ’My report on the management and utilization of Common Fund and other statutory funds for the 2015 financial year has seen no difference compared with previous ones. The Assemblies continue to operate in disregard to existing rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and directives etc. to ensure effective and efficient use of resources made available to MMDAs. Despite our continued reminders with regard to compliance with the financial regulations the infractions witnessed a significant rise as against 2014 figures. 

The impotent pleading issued by the previous Auditor General, Mr. Richard Q Quartey, continues with: ‘The state of affairs in the management of resources by MMDAs continued to reveal the lack of interest and dedication to duties and responsibilities exhibited by both the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and management of MMDAs towards the implementation and enforcement of my audit recommendations’

Fortunately, no one has ever minded the AG.  In the Ashanti region alone (home to 30 Assemblies), the first of the 10 regions to be cited in the report, identifies contract irregularities by 20 Assemblies; 22 Assemblies have procurement and store irregularities and 29 out of the 30 Assemblies are cited for 'doing an Ibrahim’ - tax irregularities.  Krobea Asante Kotoko.  There is much more. 

I am first from Akropong (my cousins are still meeting, apparently, to determine who will be appointed as the next Paramount Chief of the 17 original towns in Okuapeman).  I am also from Kyebi, where my cousin, the Okyenhene, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, has publicly challenged the Bureau of National Investigations to justify and apologise why he has been apparently cited in their findings on the environmental devastation that Galamsey - illegal mining -  has wreaked in Okyeman and continues to wreck in literally every region across Ghana. (87) 

Run on sentence above notwithstanding, Ofori Nana, get out a calculator and hold your royal breath. Aye ka.  We are as common as the thieves everywhere in Ghana. If you come from one of the 8 regions I haven’t cited, don’t get excited.  Read. Quietly. The. Details.  

Sometimes a liability can become an asset.  This Auditor General, a certain Daniel Yaw Domalevo (no relation), was appointed amidst much intrigue in the flickering days of the John IV Mahama (no relation) administration presumably on merit.  Before Domalevo was shooed into office, OCCUPY Ghana (no known relations), had taken public advocacy and adroit legal steps to help the Audit Service to locate its spine. 

On January 11, 2017, 5 days after the new government had been sworn in, this Auditor General agreed, that on close reading of the definitions of its mandate, his office does ACTUALLY have the powers to Disallow and Surcharge  Ministries, Departments and Agencies who play fast and loose with the public purse.  The AG’s office has not previously seen fit to exercise its powers to go beyond the annual appeals to ACTUALLY apply the fundamentals required to retrieve public funds.  

Some people enter your life for a reason or a treason.  Now Auditor General Domalevo whose entry was some way, says he will do the unthinkable and actually recover lost public funds.  His office will now utilise Article 187 of the 1992 Constitution, sections 18 and 19 of the Audit Service Act, (the very same powers to sanction exist in Zambia and are apparently also inspiring Malawi) to:

  1. Establish a Special task force (another one?)
  2. Review all available, previous Audit Reports (there are hundreds of them). 

May 25th is Africa Day, yet another holiday.  No one has costed what it actually means for Ghana to continually take time off from already doing very little at considerable cost.  I got married, the first time, on the first May 25th holiday.  I forgive the AU and myself for that transgression.  Continuing firmly in said spirit of benevolence, this May 25th, AG Domalovo and his impending special tax force have plenty holiday reading material. 

The other audited reports presented to Parliament and available online, document how the Ministries of Health as well as Food and Agriculture disposed of Government vehicles. If you are so inclined, the detailed findings on the National Apprenticeship Program; Implementation of Local Content in the Oil and Gas Sector; and the Safety and Quality of Medicines in Ghana are also available for romantic bedside reading.

Dear Mr. Domalevo, after you establish step 1 and 2, proceed to step 3.  Preparing a case that enables prosecution for each occasion of theft, fraud and abuse of the public purse.  

Fortunately step 4 has taken off.  Ish.  The Attorney General’s Office led by Gloria Akuffo is in place.  The Office of the Special Prosecutor has been threatened.  President Akufo-Addo has nominated Justice Sophia Akuffo, she has served the highest office it seems since 1995 when former President J.J. Rawlings (no relation) tapped her on the shoulder.  Parliament will pronounce on if the President’s nominee is acceptable.  Cue the outraged howls.  Another educated woman may just ascend, on merit, to high office.  How Dare She?!!!!!  

Now I understand, why Bugri (no relation), Otiko (no relation), the marauding remote controlled youths, koliko chiefs and everyone who has ever demonstrated in the past and now against specific nominees to local government, are so violently exercised.  There is a serious element of chop chop at the local level.  

I say OCCUPY witch hunting and ghost busting in Ghana.  And if the witches and ghosts emerge in my family tree or yours, Still. OCCUPY Ghana And. I should probably skip the next family gathering.  Sssshhh.  Approach