The Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State and former President of the National House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV

First of all, I think that Metro TV ‘Good Evening Ghana’ host, Paul Adom Otchere, cannot be condemned for making the effort to get the “truth” from the Council of State about the level of participation of its former member, Togbe Afede XIV. That is what all true journalists do.

If it turns out to be true, as Paul alleges, that Togbe, in his four-year term on the Council of State,  attended only 39 out of 242 meetings, then we would have no option but to conclude that the king did not tell the whole truth, considered against the backdrop of his statement that he “participated fully” in the Council’s activities.

For readers who may not know, Togbe Afede has returned to the state an amount of ¢365,392.57 paid as ex-gratia to him after serving on the Council of State between 2017 and 2020, saying he was undeserving of the amount considering that he offered his services on a part-time basis, especially as he “received a monthly salary and was entitled to other privileges.”

Whose story have we believed? I think that in the same spirit as the Council of State readily gave out information to Paul, it has a responsibility to make the full facts public: is it true or not that Togbe sat only 39 times? Is it true that he claimed transport allowance for Asogli instead of Accra? 

Someone’s reputation is at stake here. Silence by the Council of State will not be golden; it may be misinterpreted to mean “an unwillingness to embarrass Togbe”.

Talking about journalism and the truth, it may have helped if the total story had been presented by taking the Council of State allegation to Togbe for his side of the statistics.

Among the many Ghanaians who insist on nothing but the truth is Yours Truly, Enimil Ashon. It is not often that I publicly commend the greatness of a person to my readers. Years ago, I did that about Togbe. That trust is not easily shaken because it is built on a long record of what I have seen, read, heard, felt and touched.

Togbe Afede is one of those personalities in whom I have absolute trust. He is not an angel, like all humans, but the man I knew as James Akpo, now Togbe Afede XIV, is not dishonest. I have known him as an investment consultant to Accra Brewery, Chairman of the Accra World Trade Centre, Chairman of Africa World Airlines and Sunon Asogli Power Plant, and I have found him detailed, robust (perhaps uncomfortable to some) and shrewd – where shrewd means “having or showing sharp powers of judgement”.

He is so detailed, so thorough and so painstaking in his demand for due diligence and his approach to business! Little wonder, every project he has initiated, including AWA and Sunon Asogli plant, has stood where others have collapsed. When he loves, he loves deeply and he gives his all to the things he loves. Take Accra Hearts of Oak!

Togbe is not the only such human being. There are others whom I have tried, tasted and tested. About Sir Sam Esson Jonah, Rev Joyce Aryee, Professor Steven Adei and Mr Baba Mahama, former MD of Vanguard Insurance, I can publicly take a pledge, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, that “I will wear (them) in my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart”. They have integrity. Plus, they, like Togbe, are not surface people.

Why did the Mine Workers Union honour Sam Jonah at a public durbar, including naming the junior workers’ estates at the Obuasi mine after him? Foresight and higher passions drive him. Check the founding of Ashgold FC, the building of the Len Clay Stadium to host Premier League matches; the setting up of Gold Nuggets Dance Band in Obuasi. Simple: so that the workers, so long used to urban life throughout their tertiary school days, would not miss the allurements of Accra and Kumasi. 

Give me one woman who has distinguished herself so creditably in public service, as Minister of State and as CEO of public organizations, and I will give you Joyce Aryee. Give me a more robust campaigner against corruption in public office, and I won’t look past Prof Steven Adei. You can’t bribe Baba Mahama.

Good people in Ghana may not be a lot, but there are. 

But this whole brouhaha about Togbe’s return of the ex-gratia hides the real issue. By his act, Togbe is asking: must we be doling out ¢365,000. (aside from monthly pay and allowances) to retain quality policy thinkers in public office?

Nurses who have worked for upwards of 30 years, daily dipping their hands (even if gloved) into and smelling the vomit and excreta of incontinent and helpless patients, take home ¢25,000 ex-gratia after 30 years.

For whose comfort is our democracy?