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

There is a passage in the bible that is fascinating. Jesus was just arrested and arraigned before Pontius Pilate. He knew the case before him does not have what those who are learned and friends call locus. But he must find one and deliver a judgment. The crowd were itching for a guilty verdict. The palpating Pilate’s woes are worsened by his wife’s submission of no case; which his flesh, soul and spirit unanimously agreed with. But he dared not contradict the public verdict. Pilate tries to play a smart one.

There was this very criminally guilty with a proof guy in custody. He believed if he pitched Jesus against the acclaimed criminal, the people would come to their senses and opt for a guiltless Jesus! That was common sense or? The people voted for the criminal and told Pilate what should be done to Jesus: “Crucify him!” they shouted. Well someone once told me those shouting themselves hoarse were once beneficiaries of the benevolence of Jesus and in fact were, a few days earlier, shouting “Hosanna” to the same Jesus!

Then there’s this story making the rounds about a Togbe Afede XIV who returned an amount of money paid him as ex-gratia for his work, or as some want us to believe, no work done as a Council of State member. Now the case before Pilate, not Paul, is to either crucify Torgbe or make the people shout Hossana!

The council of state is a body that we believe is very important to our country so we carefully select them and adorn them with legal fabrics and pay them thousands of Ghanaian cedis to advise our presidents! When their job of four years is done, we pay them hundreds of thousand Ghanaian cedis as ex-gratia! The country has done an excellent job in the selection of the membership of the Council. That has never been a problem over the years as we have a fine stock of capable ladies and gentlemen to do the job for us.

But what exactly do they do and how does that affect us? In plain everyday life language, the Council is supposed to, on our behalf and betterment, advise the president on issues bothering us so as to make life better for us all. That should mean that the council is significant to our growth, wealth and health as a country. It also means that when the president fails, his council had failed first! When the president succeeds, the council had succeeded!

In this regard, I think the council of state, and many other state institutions and agencies, should work for free and enjoy ex-gratia after their tenure. They must be put on the minimum wage and have most of their privileges withdrawn. They must use the dilapidated roads like us: in trotros or weak private cars that get exposed to the conditions of the roads. They must pay bills, go to the same markets, buy fuel etc from that minimum wage pay! That is the only way they can assess the true state of the economy!

Their fat paychecks and numerous privileges blur their assessment of the situations in the country and impede accurate judgment of the Ghanaian situation hence the pieces of advice they offer the president. Only when they buy fuel from the league salary they enjoy, pay bills and make other Ghanaian expenditures can they understand what it means to live in the country and advise the president appropriately! Then if the president ignores their advice, they’ll let us all know so we can weep or whip together!

Back to my story. So Togbe Afede returned the money paid him and we have been busy more than Pilate deciding what ruling we should give for his actions. Are we cursed? Why should a country in hardship beat war drums because someone gave back an amount of money paid him? An amount that can pay the salaries of over 200 workers in some government sectors! An amount that can equip a school laboratory somewhere! That could stock a free senior high school food store somewhere…

How has that become a problem for us to be outdoing each other in the media space to prove it wrong? Supposing Togbe doesn’t deserve the money, as I heard some fiendish clowns trying to prove, how wrong is it for him to bring it back? If he deserved the money but still paid it back, what crime has he committed?

In a more serious country, we should have written a letter of appreciation to Torgbe and even look around to engage his services in other beneficial ways knowing he will do it for little or for free. But in a country that celebrates her heroes by strangling them by the neck, this is typical of us. By the way, it would be interesting to hear what advice the council will offer the president on this! Kwame Nkrumah and Ama Ghana, while you slept, an enemy has fed your children fat with something terrible. Now we only have whims and caprices! Nothing like an individual let alone national conscience! How do we even fix this country now?

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The writer is a teacher at Sogakofe senior high school