By Kofi Ata, Cambridge,The outgoing Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Rt Rev Prof Emmanuel Martey claimed on Tuesday that, politicians tried all means to muzzle him to get him but they could not. According to him, “politicians came with bribes, fat envelopes, $100,000. I want everybody to listen that politicians came to my house with $100,000 and also with the promises that if you keep quiet we will give you a house at Trasaaco with swimming pool. We will give you Four Wheel drive but you know what, these people were lucky that I do not have big dogs in my house else I would have released the dogs for them to bite them.” He added, “the politicians have tried all means to muzzle me but they couldn’t and I tell you they can’t.” (see, “Presby Church not for NPP – Prof Martey”, Ghanaweb, August 30,206). This article is a discussion of Rev Prof Martey’s confession and the fight against
corruption in Ghana.
Initially, I assumed the man of God had been misreported as it often happens in Ghana until I listened to a video clip of his confession. I was disappointed but not surprised because there are certain groups in Ghana that sometimes do not make sense. The first on the list are politicians, closely followed by the clergy. In fact, this is not the first time I am writing about Rev Prof Martey on his outbursts. The first was in March 2015 when he claimed he could end dumsor in six months if he were in charge (see my article, “Is Rev Prof Martey Dishonest on how to end dumsor?”, Ghanaweb, March 23, 2015). Bishop Duncan Williams claimed Ghanaian women are nothing without a husband. Even the most respected and successful including Pastor (Dr) Mensah Otabil sometimes come out with the irrational when he asked the state to get out of schools and hospitals for the private sector (see my article, “Does Pastor Otabil really want the state out of hospitals and schools in Ghana?”, Ghanaweb, March 23, 2016), Don’t even mention the fake ones and the likes of Obinim, Owusu Bempa and others. However, this time Prof Martey truly hit below the belt for the reasons below.
The office of the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana is one of the most revered Christian leadership positions in Ghana and a leading member of the Christian Council. As Rev Prof Martey rightly said, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana has played and continues to play key roles in the socio-economic and political development of Ghana (pre and post-independence), especially in education and health. According to Rev Opuni Frimpong, the General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, the church has made considerable contributions toward good governance in the Fourth Republic and these could be attested by all Ghanaians (see, “The church will not be cowed by politicians – Christian Council”, Ghanaweb, August 31, 2016). There is no doubt that all the above are facts, but, if so, why has Rev Prof Martey failed the cardinal principles of his faith and good governance?
The Presbyterian faith teaches honesty, probity, humility and kindness among others whilst good governance requires determined and consistent efforts to fight corruption. As we are all aware, corruption is a major problem in Ghana and on daily or weekly basis, religious leaders including Rev Prof Martey use their pulpits to preach against this societal menace. So how come when politicians attempted to bribe him with huge sums of money and a mansion, he lost his voice until Monday 30 August 2016? Rev Prof Martey did not indicate when politicians attempted to bribe him, neither did he identify the politicians involved.
The next question is, if no mean person like the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana could not have the guts to expose official corruption, how could he expect members of his congregation to fight against corruption or the corrupt politicians to stop their nefarious activities? Was it by mere coincidence that Rev Prof Martey could not muster the courage to expose the politicians or he became compromised by his initial assumption that the presents were birthday gifts to him until her realised that they were bribes?
Another sad aspect of Rev Prof Martey’s disturbing behaviour was his intention to set loose big dogs on the politicians who visited him at his home if he had some. What sort of a man of God would exhibit such wicked and inhuman treatment on his fellow human being? Where is his humanity and the godly fear in him? Of course, it is recorded in the New Testament scriptures (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11: 15-19, Luke 19: 45-48 and John 1: 13-16) that Jesus drove away sinners (money changers and traders) from the Temple for using the house of the Lord for such activities. For that reason, Rev Prof Martey had every right to turn away the politicians from his home but no justification whatsoever to be violent against them. That would have been against the law and criminal. Is that what is written in his Bible?
By his failure to expose the corrupt politicians earlier as well as his refusal or inability to disclose the identities of the politicians who offered him bribes at his press conference, Rev Prof Martey has caused more harm than good to the fight against corruption in Ghana. He has also damaged his own credibility and tarnished the reputation of the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. It would have been better if he had continued to keep his silence over the issue rather than open his mouth and raise more questions than answers.
There is nothing wrong with the clergy speaking their minds on issues of national importance and in fact, it is their religious duty to do so. I therefore do not fault Rev Prof Martey for talking about dumsor, corruption and the December 7, 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections. However, the problem with Rev Prof Martey is not the issues he raised but his dishonesty on those matters that turns national issues into partisan politics instead of discussing such matters with objectivity and integrity.
Perhaps, as the then Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Rev Prof Martey was restricted in what he could or could not say in public. Thank God, as he is no longer the Moderator, some of the restrictions may no longer apply and it would be in his best interest to repair the damage he has caused to his goodwill by coming out to substantiate the alleged attempt by politicians to muzzle him through bribery. Otherwise, at best his words will remain mere allegations and at worst, there would be speculation in the minds of many that he himself is not beyond reproach in the fight against corruption. Until then, Rev Prof Martey will be considered a coward who did not stand up to corrupt politicians, let down his flock and nation or perhaps, a reverend minister who misused his cassock and pulpit for partisan politics. The ball is in your court.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK