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Premix Fuel Distribution And Sales: Avenue For State Sanctioned Corruption By Political Party Activists

I have always maintained that, for the politicians in our country, our dear mother Ghana is a celebrated prostitute to them. Thus, as a prostitute as Ghana is, the politicians as clients shall always fight to get close to her and rape her to satisfy their insatiable greed. This is the reason why every buffoon and nitwit, criminal, disappointed youth, failed diasporans, intellectuals and business people as well as hustlers and chancers are in perpetual dog-eat-dog dirty politics to outdo each other just to grab the reins of government to distribute the public goods for themselves and their cronies.

Nation-building, patriotism and development of the nation has never been the agenda of our politicians in this country, their ultimate interest has always been to better themselves alone, nothing more nothing less. This reason underpins the non-changing nature of our politicians. Their behaviour across political divide is the same. There is no extraordinary difference between a New Patriotic Party (NPP) politician and a National Democratic Congress (NDC) politician. Their sense of civic duties to their nation is warped, fucked and sickened. They are all in consensus id dem: the intention is to loot the state coffers for private use whilst pretending to work for Ghana. Only fools, their compradors, party foot-soldiers, ethnocentric bigots/voters, kiths and kins are hoodwinked by their pretensions to work for Ghana.

The truism in the assertions expressed above as the authentic personification of our Ghanaian politicians can carefully be seen in the premix fuel distributions and sales venture in the country. For many years (since 1999), the politicians who are the trustees of the people and proclaim from campaign platforms to work for the citizens have always stole from the fishermen and make their life unbearable.

Recent smelly rots

When you have a good leader with strong balls among a bunch of corrupt dudes, at least certain bad deals shall never be swept under the carpet. This is the reason why under able leadership of Mr. Hassan Tampuli, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), it has emerged from the Authority that a total of 3.3 million (3,348,000) litres of premix fuel was diverted by Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) and transporters in eight months of 2017. In fact, the NPA makes an educated guess per their erudite knowledge in the industry that the premix fuel consignments, which were dispatched to various regions, ended up being discharged mostly in Tema in the Greater Accra Region, instead of their intended destinations.

What is worse? NPA`s nationalistic findings show that out of the eight months of the twelve months which the NPP`s elected candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has been the president of Ghana, there has been monumental 248 diversions of tankers each loaded with 13,500 litres of premix fuel. The beautiful breakdown of this state sponsored criminal diversion of the poor fishermen premix fuel by the OMCs and transporters shows that in January about 148,000 litres was diverted into private pockets. In February about 54,000 litres; April – 297,000 litres; May – 364,000 litres; June – 270,000 litres; July – 459,000 litres; August – 648,000 litres; and October – 1,107,000 litres were.The number of loaded tankers diverted for each month are January – 11, February – four, April – 22, May – 27, June – 20, July – 34, August – 48, and October – 82.

These thefts perpetrated against Ghana, especially the vulnerable group like the poor fishermen who stood in the scorching sun to vote for the NPP and Nana Addo as a president, does not include figures fromMarch and September (the NPA could not immediately tell if there were no diversions in those two months). However, the little disappointment the public had with the hard working and patriotic NPA leadership in this smelly scandal which cries to high heavens was the NPA`s loud silence in providing figures in the spirit of transparency and accountability to show how how much the state would lose in fictitious transport claims if the diversions went undetected. This should have been done to ensure proper discussion on the issue without speculation which has emerged following the disclosure. Already, this lacuna has given political oxygen to the electorally confused and bruised NDC to speculate in the media about certain ridiculous figures which they claim the state had lost via the rotten premix diversions.

Dent on Akufo Addo`s non-corrupt image

One may dislike President Akufo Addo, but one cannot fault him at all when it comes to corruption. For over 40 years that, Nana Addo traversed in the political landscape of this country, not a single provable corrupt charges came against him. Vicious campaign of calumny, contempt and odium peddled by his opponents to dent his image proved as nothing but palpable hoax. Thus, in 2016, Nana Addo had a super-clean image which NPP campaign managed very effectively to attract huge votes from the electorate who were appalled at the corrupt nature of John Mahama`s led government of the NDC. So in the last elections, Nana emerged as a trustworthy non-corrupt leader and a saint, whilst Mahama in the minds of the public was nothing but discredited and corrupt leader.

This is why the re-emergence of premix fuel scandal in the first year of the NPP administration cast a serious shadow over the careful choreographed perception of Nana Addo as non-corrupt leader. The premix scandal is further compounded by the earlier massive corruption which hit the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport Company Limited (BOST) over their sale of contaminated fuel. It was alleged that the state lost millions of cedis in that scandal. One report contends that the country lost GH¢7 million over sale of contaminated fuel. During this scandal, the President who was then on an oversea trip refused to talk about the scandal, on his return he went quiet like a “mumu” (deaf and dumb) leaving the whole case to the Bureau of National Investigations to deal with the matter. The President never took steps to cause the Managing Director (MD) of BOST, Alfred Obeng to step aside for the commencement of the BNI investigation in the spirit of national interest, equity and fairness.

With the imagery of BOST scandal and Nana Addo`s incompetency in handling the issue decisively with political will as he was expected to do still etched in the minds of Ghanaians, this “brand new second hand” corruption in the premix fuel distribution and sales if not carefully handled will gradually reinforce the idea that Nana Addo`s super clean image as non-corrupt leader is nothing but political smokescreen cleverly couched to hoodwink the unsuspecting Ghanaian voters.

Politicians, same mother and same father

The premix diversion scandal further proves that the NPP has not learn a single lesson from the issues which caused the party`s loss in 2008 to the then NDC candidate, Professor John Evans Atta Mills. In the coastal Central, Greater-Accra and Western Regions what caused massive disaffection for the NPP in the 2008 elections was the manner in which party officials who are not fishermen meddled in the premix fuel sales to the detriment of the fishermen who were supposed to be the real beneficiaries.

Many educated elites and middle class in the NPP went into the grassroots to sell premix fuels. Instead of taking the community allocated fuels to the petrol dumps near the beach, some party executives and money-bags hijacked the premix fuel and kept it in their privately-built petrol dumps before selling it to the fishermen above the government`s subsidized price. This issue created myriads of acrimony in the coastal areas between the NPP and the fishermen. In many areas such as Elmina, Shama, Abuesi, Komenda, Anomabo, Kromantse, Otuom, Dago, Apam, Winneba, Jamestown, Tema, Sege and others, conflict broke between fishermen. Distributions and sales points recorded regular fights and heated exchanges, sometimes between NDC and NPP factions and between NPP and NPP factions close to the distributors at the local level.

The NPP Party hierarchy refused to deal with this canker to bring fairness in the distribution and sales of the premix fuel. Factions close the constituency, regional and the national executives hijacked the premix fuel business to themselves and their cronies. In the end, the premix fuel caused irreconcilable differences and divisions within the NPP ranks in the coastal fishing towns. The premix fuel further triggered a lot of disaffection for the Kufuor`s regime by 2008. The opportunistic NDC took advantage to spread their propaganda that because Kufuor is an Asante, and from a farming area, he does not care a hoot about the plight of fishermen when it comes to equitable distribution, sales and allocation of premix fuel, ban on pair-trawling  and the enforcement of laws on the illegal light fishing. The NDC used a popular fisherman from Elmina, Kojo Mbir aka “Maanoma” (My Bird) to campaign massively against NPP by repeating allegations of corruption in the premix fuel sector. Maanoma moved from every hook and cranny of the coastal fishing communities, from Cape Three Point, Half-Assini, to Sege just to damage NPP on its inability to deal with premix fuel corruption.

The NPP executives’ recalcitrant meddling in the premix fuel sales showed in the final electoral results of 2008, in which the party lost in all the major coastal fishing constituencies in the Central, Greater-Accra and Western Regions. It was a complete disaster for the NPP, because earlier on in 2004 elections, the party had managed to win all the seats to break the old NDC belief that they are for the rural folks. This unpredictable nature of the coastal fishing folks proved to political pundits that unlike the interior voters and certain ethnic groups whose vote can be easily predicted, coastal fishing Fante communities are unpredictable. You fool or mess up with their premix fuel at your own electoral peril.

This view is clearly seen in the NDC`s lost in 2016 elections. The NDC after using Maanoma to win the fishermen over and proceeding to reappoint him as a member of the National Premix Committee after toppling the NPP also refused to respect the views of the fishermen in the premix fuel sales. NDC executives like the erring NPP before them also hijacked the premix allocation, distribution and sales. Cliques were formed in various areas to sell premix, whilst the fishermen were relegated to the peripheries. The end result is the gargantuan “onaapo” push given to John Mahama to fast-track his exit as the president of Ghana. The fishermen are no fools for any buffoon of a politician to fool with. They “chew” best of fish and have superior brains, thus, if our nitwit of politicians and chancers in NPP and the NDC think that by their privileged-tenure positions they can exploit the fishermen with their two by four English grammar, then they should reconsider their opinion.

Perception of the informal sector people and failure of premix fuel policy

It is strange that politicians in the country always think that classroom education is the only way that can make one a better manager of their own affairs. Experience in this country shows that many successful indigenous businessmen were people with little or without formal education. A careful glance at Kumasi Kejetia market, Suame Magazine, Accra Makola, Abossey Okai Spare Parts Shops, Agbogbloshie market and other markets and business centres show myriads of people with no formal education who own big businesses and even employ our so-called educated people. Indeed, our politicians are the most mis-educated group in the country. They equate ability to speak English well or shouting boisterously on top of one`s voice as trait of intelligence.

It is generally accepted that the initial intention of the Premix Fuel Policy instituted in the 1990 to ensure smooth distribution and sale of premix to the fisher-folks was a step in right direction then. The intention was to make premix available to the fishermen at their doorsteps and offer them certain subsidies in line with then PNDC government`s policy of popular participation and decentralization agenda. Then, the autocratic nature of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) made it impossible for cadres, corrupt capitalists and activists to divert premix. But with the opportunity offered by democracy where expansive political campaigned is run with human capital and financial resources, corruption has emerged in premix fuel sector because party financiers and die-hard grassroots supporters are given contracts to lift, transport and distribute premix.

Thus, these transporters and premix committee members who are die-hard party supporters see their roles in the premix value chain as employment opportunities and avenue to profiteer to meet their years of toils for their party. It is in the line of the politicization of the premix fuel policy that Dr. Charles Yves Wereko-Brobby, who once served as policy adviser when the sale of premix fuel for fisher-folk was instituted, has also suggested that the whole policy as currently exists must be scrapped. This is because the intent for establishing the policy for helping the fishermen has been badly executed and opened the sector to be riddled with corruption since 2004 due to the nefarious activities of hustlers, chancers and criminals parading around as politicians, who have devised plans in concert with some OMCs to divert premix fuel to make huge profits.

Thus, even subsidies put on the premix fuel has not improved the livelihood of the fisher-folk in the country. It clear shows that political rent-seeking is a huge problem in Ghana, and it also explains why there is wide inequalities and widening poverty. Last year, for example, the NDC government signed US$45 million in subsidies to help fisher-folk in Ghana, whose livelihood has been in sharp decline, but these subsidies had no effect on the livelihood of the people. The money found its way to the pockets of OMCs and politicians in the premix fuel value chain. You cannot but just stand by to listen to Charlie Brobbsin query and suggestion: “How much of the $45 million [in 2016] actually went to fishermen? It went to unscrupulous middlemen who sit on committees and misuse the funds of Ghana because they sell it off as fuels for ordinary engines. So let’s go back to square one and do the right thing.”

Making Fishermen managers of their own premix fuel business

As all studies show, talent, skill and knowledge is not synonymous to only people who had formal western education. There can be a person with little formal education who is more knowledgeable, skilful and talented in a specific area of management and operations than a person with formal education. It is in the light of this fact that I concur with the Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, the 2016 flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and the Chairman of Groupe Nduom`s timely call for an end to government control of premix fuel distribution in the country. Since time immemorial fishermen have been buying their premix fuel directly at fuel stations without any rancour and corruption in our national politics.

The government, as a matter of urgency should give ear to the suggestion by Mr. Senyo Hosi, the Executive Director of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) to scrap the subsidy on premix fuel, because the money ends in private pockets through the diversion of the commodity meant for the country’s fisher-folk. This move will curtail the instances of fuel diversions. However, if the government still want to maintain National Premix Fuel Committee (NPFC) as a “job for the boys” entity, then it should reformulate a novel policy which minimizes the role of politicians in the premix fuel distribution from workings of the OMCs to the local level (Land Beach Committees).

For the OMCs, the government (Ministry of Fishery and Aquaculture) must work hand-in-hand with the NPFC and NPA to ensure that all tankers belonging to OMCs which transport premix fuels had the BRV tracking devices. This is because out of 3,500 fuel tankers in the country, including all trucks carrying premix fuel, only 2,000 have tracking devices on them.

At local level, the government must do its best to appoint more fishermen into the Landing Beach Committees and local premix committees. In various coastal fishing towns, most of the people who manage the sale and allocation of premix fuel are people who have no knowledge about fishing industry. Some local premix fuel committee members refuse to sell fuel to fishermen who are in different political parties. Local fishermen in most cases are not even involved in the sales and allocation of the fuel.

Finally, I suggest that subsidies removed from the premix fuel should be redistributed to targeted coastal towns for meaningful community projects and other social interventions in the community to alleviate their hardship. This will go a long way to augment the projects which the profits from the local premix committees also use in undertaken projects. Monitoring and Evaluation personnel from the NPFC must also go down to crosscheck the books of the local premix committees regularly to ensure that profits made from sales of premix fuel is used for their intended purposes.

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