I am deeply delighted that Dr Mensa Otabil has released a statement to the press as a response to conversations about his involvement in what’s almost a scam, at the now defunct Capital Bank where he was the Board Chairman, a shareholder and his church, International Central Gospel Church, was also a shareholder.
Though his response which I intend to deservingly tear into pieces in the face of the available facts is hollow, the fact that we have successfully smoked him out of his hideout to speak clearly indicates that with collective or pockets of angry voices, we can get even those shielded behind the name of God to somewhat become answerable to us as Ghanaians.
It has been almost two years since Capital Bank ‘collapsed’ and Otabil has during this period said nothing openly about this but has been gallivanting around as a ‘man of integrity’ dishing out pieces of generational thinking advice which he obviously failed to make good use of at Capital Bank.
After a few days of endless pressures on his tail from those of us who refuse to stand with people of his kind who have caused financial loss to Ghana, he has been compelled to release a long response statement, albeit empty. This is a victory for all those who have risen and spoken on this issue and all those who have not been intimidated by the false celestial immunity Ghanaian Christians grant those they call ‘men of God’.
While writing about the courageous voices we’ve heard in the last few days on this matter, can someone wake Manasseh Azure of Joy Fm from his sleep? The journalist who has an opinion on almost everything including those he is totally ignorant of, has suddenly become an alien to the goings-on in Ghana—because of the obvious fact that it involves Mensa Otabil, a man who officiated his wedding and a man he has a relationship with. It’s this sort of selective anger, support and disagreements, a hallmark of sycophancy and unfettered adulation, that make us a joke and weak to those who occupy the upper-echelon of our society to the extent that they callously and unendingly screw us in the butt, without even a lubricant. What is fundamentally wrong is wrong—whether done by Mensa Otabil, Bishop Obinim or Alfred Woyome.
Before looking at Mensa Otabil’s press statement which I consider as an assault on reason, but thick bread and butter for his ‘foolish born-again Christians’ who are aggressively sharing it on social media, let me emphatically state that, I borrowed the ‘foolish born-again Christians’ phrase from Mensa Otabil himself.
Do not wrongly accuse me of contempt or blasphemy. I have no respect for the divine wrong of blasphemy, cunningly created by religious people to shield their faith, practices and leaders from criticisms but I do not appreciate intellectual dishonesty, taking credit for someone’s words. Mensa Otabil in 2017 described a section of Ghanaian Christians as ‘foolish born-again Christians’. Today, I agree with him: we have a lot of them muddying the conversation and they seem to originate from his church.
Statements 1 and 2 of Mensa Otabil’s response are not worth anything. They are just words and this runs through his statement which lacks any fact.
He states at point 3 that, “My position was a non-executive role. I was therefore not involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the Bank.” This is where I started getting angry for the fact that this man thinks everyone is indeed a fool. The magnitude of loss caused by Capital Bank which we are dealing with and talking about has nothing to do with day-to-day management and operations of the Bank, especially post the Bank of Ghana 610 million cedis bailout. How is wiring about 130 million cedis of liquidity support given by the Bank of Ghana to what seem like a shell corporation and using it to set up another bank, Sovereign bank which also collapsed, a day-to-day management and operations’ decision?
We are talking about board decisions such as the above, and Otabil was wholly involved. He sat on the board as the chairman and reasonably voted on these matters. So, he shouldn’t dilute the conversation by wrongly making it seem we are talking about some lousy day-to-day management and operations of Capital Bank. No, we are talking about exceptional and top hierarchy decisions taken by the board which he was involved. In fact, Otabil himself as chairman of the board, gave assurances that this money will be returned to Capital Bank by March 2016. Did that happen?
As the published internal report outlined, 130 million cedis of the given 610 million cedis “was transferred to Alltime Capital, a transfer that needed some explanation from the CEO Ato Essien who said the transfers were “strategic,” and “highly classified information.”
“The transfers were expected back into the bank by March 2016 – in five months, he said with additional assurance from the chairman, Dr Mensa Otabil.”
At point 4, Otabil states that: “In the course of time, some decisions made turned out well while some did not turn out as well as had been anticipated. As far as I can tell, everything was done with the best of intentions and the interest of various stakeholders in mind.” Mr Otabil, can you reasonably tell even your grandchildren that, increasing your own fees (salaries) as board members and other benefits including free first-class plan tickets for board members after a near-collapsed bank was given a bail out money by Bank of Ghana (taxpayers’ money) was with the best intentions and interest of various shareholders? How does this make sense to anyone reasonable person?
This is what the report states: the board of directors of Capital Bank with Otabil as the chairman ‘dished out ¢27.5m to a Board member to hype the business. The word in the report was “business promotion”. While still under distress but having received the bail-out, the board approved an expenditure of ¢2.6M and $50,000 on re-branding.’
And there is more: the board of directors with Otabil as chairman ‘ratified a proposal to increase the fees and benefits of directors (themselves), including two first and business class air tickets for all members of the board.’
Otabil’s statement failed to capture any facts, and as usual he employed pathos, the philosophy of appealing to emotions, as he does in his church, to buy some public sympathy. He states he was a non-executive at Capital Bank and this does not change anything. We already know this and no one has accused him of the contrary.
Whatever way we look at it, Otabil is somewhat involved and he failed at his duty, which has gotten us to this place. Perhaps, I should illustrate Otabil’s duty and his failure with what happened in England, many years ago.
The duty people like Otabil take on was brilliantly captured by Lord Hardwicke in a 1742 English case. In this case, a corporation was set up, with 50 directors, and the corporation’s aim was to give loans out to people who deserve it, and with security.
The CEO of this corporation and 5 out of the 50 directors defrauded the ‘company’ and gave out loans to people who did not deserve it, resulting in a debt of about 350,000 pounds.
The other directors claimed they were innocent and were not even in attendance at the meetings when these loans were given—that they did not take part in any of the activities that led to the debt. Note that this is the same boloney Otabil is selling to us.
Lord Hardwicke said: “To instance in non- attendance; if some persons are guilty of gross non-attendance and leave the management entirely to others, they are guilty by this means of the breaches of trust that are committed by others.”
Otabil as a director and Chairman of Capital Bank assumed a duty of care—what did he do? Even if he did not participate and sat while the others did everything that has caused the loss, he is guilty. Omitting to act, in law, amounts to an act, a lot of times.
He should show us his voting records at board meetings for us to ascertain how he voted on the matters which significantly led to Capital Bank collapsing.
In my opinion, we all need to watch these ‘men of money’ claiming to be ‘men of God’. Most importantly, we shouldn’t shut up—ever. We must speak truth to authority and fight for accountability.