The IBO defines a principled person as someone who “acts with integrity and honesty, with a strong sense of fairness, justice and respect for the dignity of the individual, groups and communities. They take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences that accompany them”. A principled person leads highly moral live, and never, or at least rarely fail to follow his or her moral principles. A person of principle means someone who faithfully follow his or principle or set of principles rather than abandoning them when convenient. If a principled person is faced with a seemingly difficult decision, he or she will quickly refer to his or her guiding set of principles and then deduce the correct action from it.
When the President’s nominee for the office of the special prosecutor Mr Martin Amidu, quoted this idiomatic expression “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” several times when he appeared before Parliament’s Appointment Committee to explain, and justify why he abandoned earlier position on the “Special Prosecutor Office” concept and why he accepted the President’s appointment after condemning creation of that office in his articles. “Don’t throw the baby with the bathwater” is an idiomatic expression has to do with discarding the essentials while retaining the superfluous because of excessive zeal. Thomas Carlyle adapted the concept in an 1849 essay on slavery. Many historical stories have been told about how the idiom was coined or originated including how the whole household shared the same bathe water from the head of the household ( Lord),the men, the children and the babies. I don’t think persons who strongly preach particular sets principles and portray themselves as principled persons should adapt this idiomatic expression in their dealings and operations. The nominee in an article last year criticised the Special prosecutor bill, highlighting among other issues, attempts to limit the special prosecutor to specific crimes. He also expressed a position that, the President’s nominee did not need Parliamentary approval. But reacting to questions posed to him about his current position on the issues he raised in his article, he said we should not throw away the baby with the bathwater. He told the committee that in spite of all the issues he raised in his article the concept doable and implementable.
I don’t doubt the integrity of the nominee, I respect him highly as a senior comrade and a foundation member of the NDC. My biological father was a member of the PNDC and chaired the Vetting Committee of Eastern Region. I had the opportunity of witnessing how he together with others including Ambrose, Lawyer Aggrey, Prof Ahwoi, Larry Adjetey, Justice Ofoe among worked. I know the kind of training they went through, and the kind of attitude they attached to their work. I have few reservations about some his actions but that will not bury my perception about him and his contemporaries. That notwithstanding, we must always remember that we are human. God is a principled person and said he created us in his own image.But he had and has his set of principles including his special love for Israel as captured in the Bible. The point is, society is going to measure the nominee according to his own principles and expects him to commit to living his life according to the principles he has been articulating over the years. Being a man of principle we expect him to consult his his categorical imperative which is his highest guiding principle, act only on that maxim which can at the same time will to become a universal principle in the country. When he was asked to substantiate his allegations against the former President, the chairperson of the electoral commission, the NDC and Tigereye, his response was that they were based on perception. Ironically, when he was asked why people seem to hold negative view of him, his answer was that “perception is the problem” and narrated how people who held that view about him, changed their perception after coming close to him. He also told the committee that now that he has been nominated as Special prosecutor, he will not act based on perception but will look for facts. Some of the masses still seem to be very much under a spell whereby they accept the facade of lies told them based on perceptions etc and spins by politicians machines and dismiss the call to reality. Some of the real detail stuff can get very technical and it is difficult to describe and explain things at that level so that Ghanaians can really grasp what is being said or implemented. This was what happened to the Mahama administration. But if we just step back and look at policies of the Mahama administration from a common sensical standpoint removing any preconceived notions and just observe you really will not need the gritty details to understand their relevance. Almost every Ghanaian agrees that politicians lie all the time simply to get votes. We see politicians throw out lies and serious allegations against opponents to manipulate voters. When victims point out the lies, we dismiss them only to show regrets later. This what the former President went through.
The nominee told the committee that his position on Anas’s Tigereye has changed because of “behind the scenes” discussions between him the Anas and was ready to work closely with an organization he once described as illegal and criminal. Why has he abandoned his position on the organisation when Anas and his organisation have not changed their modus operandi.
He also disclosed that he acted as a legal adviser to Prof Mills and when Mr O.B Amoah strategically asked him whether appointment into that position demands council of state approval, his answer was “I think so” meaning that appointment was made in accordance with the Presidential Act. Mr Amidu challenged the appointment of Madam Elisabeth Ohene, Joshua Hamidu and Obetsebi Lamptey at the supreme court. He described their appointments which were made in accordance with the Presidential Act as null and void because the President did not consult the council of state. We are yet to be told whether Prof Mills consulted the Council of State before appointing him his legal adviser.
What about the Burton Oduro’s issue. Why did he keep mute over the issue when he knew his deputy was going to exonerate the nephew of the President who had committed crime. Is he going to compromise his position when the President exerts pressure on him to cover corrupt acts in his government?
“GHANAIANS HAVE LOST CONFIDENCE IN THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE” – PRESIDENT AKUFO-ADDO-
According to senior comrade Amidu, the President told him that establishment of the office of a special prosecutor has become necessary because Ghanaians have lost confidence in the Attorney General’s Office. This is a serious indictment on the office he is going to operate under and it supports his earlier position that the Attorney General’s office must be strengthened. I don’t think creation of another office is going to heal this wound. He said he was not going to succumb to external pressures from the AG or the politicians. I admire his courage and forthrightness. But I am not the one to advise a political colossus like my senior that “that he is going to encounter serious challenges if he tries to exhibit such traits in his office”. He is not a member of the President’s party and the President is not Npp he is a member. The party and an organization will not grant him that space to execute what he promised Ghanaians at his vetting if his actions could create bad image for the party. This was the reason why he should have stood by what he espoused in his “critique” for all the inherent monsters to be cleared for whoever was appointed to enjoy the freedom and independence needed for this difficult task. I am happy he quoted the American concept to support some of his submissions. How Nixon tried to manipulate the system to cover his crime.
STRONG INSTITUTION (AG) NOT STRONG PERSONALITIES AND AGENCIES- Some of our legal experts have advocated for decades for total independence of the AG from executive control and strengthening of the office. This all we need. We may end up complicating issues and creating unnecessary tension if we hurriedly pursue some these political decisions. The Americans at a point had to suspend the practice because of some these issues and the nominee correctly captured that in his submission. I don’t think we are waiting for an American President to tell us for the second time that we need strong institutions but not strong men to get our legal business running effectively.
THE NATIONAL RECONCILIATION COMMISSION PRECEDENT-
President Kufour and his Npp created the impression that they were going to heal all wounds and weld us together via the national reconciliation commission. Ghanaians gave it massive support because of what the administration said prior to its establishment. The commission metamorphosed into a “witch-hunt” arena where the founder of the NDC and functionaries of the AFRC/PNDC administrations were brutally demonized. I am sure the nominee has been following positions being expressed by supporters of the Npp vis-à-vis the new office. The expectation is that appointees of the former administration must be imprisoned and have already narrowed the operational space of the Special prosecutor before he commences his work. This is going to make his work very very difficult. His own outburst in the past and allegations against the former administration are also going to affect his delivery. He mentioned “neutrality”. That is interesting because,people will still look at him from the from the position he forcefully articulated in the past.
THE BOLDEST ANTI-CORRUPTION INITIATIVE-
The nominee described the establishment of the office of a special prosecutor as the boldest anti- corruption decision taken by a leader in the history of this great country. He pulled back when the minority leader strategically wanted him to confirm his assertion. That is not factual and his own assertion downgrades what he and his colleagues did with regards to corruption fight in the 80s. The boldest anti corruption initiative was what Ghanaians witnessed in 1979 under the AFRC. Corruption was made unattractive by the AFRC regime and the regime retrieved millions. The second phase was what we witnessed under the PNDC in the 80s and the nominees himself proudly mentioned that in his submission.
AKUFO-ADDO AS ATTORNEY GENERAL-
My senior, the current President received same heroic acceptance from Ghanaians when he was appointed the Attorney General by President Kufour. Ghanaians reposed their trust and confidence in Nana Addo to prosecute former appointees of Rawlings because of the public’s perception about him. How he carried and portrayed himself in opposition, how he vehemently spoke against alleged corruption in the Rawlings administration and how he boldly articulated his views. We saw how the system frustrated his efforts and how his personal actions contradicted the position he espoused in opposition leading to his removal from that ministry (AG) to the foreign ministry. Until we bury our inherent tribal and partisan inclinations and offer genuine support to the fight against the menace, we shall continue singing same old song till some hoodlums take over the system under the guise of “House Cleaning Revolution”.
THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION-
I am happy the nominee promised Ghanaians before the cameras that “now that I have been nominated as Special prosecutor I will not act based on perception. I will look for facts”. Chraj has shown the way. There are many corruption cases blowing in the air and fortunately for Mr Amidu, those making the allegations have facts supporting their claims. I hope and expect him to exhibit what he promised what he promised us by delving into these matters.
I wish my senior comrade well and pray for God’s favour for him. He should work on his temperament to enable him achieve his target and for Ghana to benefit from his experience. He remains a comrade and his appointment confirms one sacred fact that- the NDC is a great party and socialism is the best ideology. We shall support him in all his endeavours and help him prove to the world that we have the men.
Senior comrades submission at the vetting also sent one clear message that- it is time to clear our minds of our perception about the former President because allegations levelled against him and his administration were based on perception not reality.