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For The Love Of Money   
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The headline for this week’s piece was the title of one of my favourite O’Jays songs when I was a secondary school student many years ago.

A track on their ‘Ship Ahoy’ album, the O’Jays (one of the two hit-making groups to have come out of Philadelphia in the USA; the other being ‘Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’) in ‘For the love of money’ sang about human beings committing crimes just so that they could make money.

This song of the 1970s came to my mind this week when the news broke out that the Chief Executive Officer of EXOPA, Ibrahim Sima, was arrested at the Accra Airport, with substances suspected to be cocaine, hidden in tubers of yam found in his luggage.
I was with a couple of friends when the news broke out, and they wondered what it was that will drive a person to sell something he or she knows will cause long term harm, to a fellow human being.

The answer, I told them, was simple.

It was greed and often the desire to show others that they have made it in life, that makes people turn themselves into merchants of death by dealing in hard drugs like cocaine.

If the truth be told, a lot of people seen driving flashy cars and leading lives like Arabian princes, complete with gold ornaments adorning their necks, fingers and wrists, could safely be assumed to be dealing in drugs.

Since the days of ‘on the body’ in the 1970s when drug couriers were taping parcels of wee on themselves, and attempting to board airplanes to Europe to sell their cargoes, the menace of the drug trade was staring at us, as a country, in the face.

As far back as 1986, when I first wrote about the drug menace in the Ghanaian Voice, under the headline, ‘Killing Them Softly…at Tudu, Cowlane,’ I am afraid nothing has changed.

If anything at all, the business of selling narcotics has grown to the extent that it is now a national emergency. Daily, we see people leading lives that clearly could only be supported by engaging in the narcotics trade and yet no eyebrows are raised and no questions are asked.

In cases where alarms were raised, as in the case of the story, I wrote for the Ghanaian Voice in 1986, the response from the security agencies was to do nothing.

So, the effect of not doing anything concretely was to encourage the drug lords to ‘graduate’ from selling wee to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

I am particularly passionate when it comes to issues of cocaine and other drugs like heroin, because as a person who was born and raised at Tudu, in Accra, I have seen with my two eyes what a drug like cocaine does to a person.

People, who otherwise would have contributed their quota to the development of this country, unfortunately found themselves wasting away because, they had become addicted to drugs, and that was all they cared about.

I once saw one of the people I grew up with lying on the ground in a state of ‘cold turkey’ with nobody to attend to him.
This was somebody who was academically good in school, and who for three years in a row, passed the Common Entrance Examination, but could not go to a secondary school because, his parents were not in the proper financial situation to make him continue with secondary education.

Later I was told that somebody bought him a ‘line’ of the drug which he took to get out of his misery.

I still remember the last days of Kiki Djan who, in the 1970s, when he was a member of the world famous band, Osibisa, was the role model of many a Ghanaian teenager.

Kiki’s end was a sad one indeed.

We know these stories and similar ones like them, and yet drugs get lost from supposedly secured places like the Police Headquarters, and from sea-going vessels like the MV Benjamin!

However, we have to thank God for small mercies like the arrest and conviction of people like Goodies and Benjillo, years before him.

The arrest of Ibrahim Sima (if it can be proved that he is guilty) and two other people just days later, is welcome news indeed.
In all these, however, sight should not be lost of the fact that the real money bags behind this illegal and inhuman trade are powerful individuals in our society, who have been able to remain faceless because, those they send as couriers, who are arrested, are people they can dispense with anyway.

Again, sight should not be lost of the fact that drugs like cocaine and heroin are not made in this country. Not even the coca plant from which cocaine is made or poppy crop from which heroin is made, are grown in this country.

What this means, therefore, is that some rich people are those financing this trade and bringing the drugs into Ghana from Asia, in the case of heroine, and South America, in the case of cocaine.
If you ask me, I believe that people like Kwabena Edusei, the factory worker in Italy, and the trader, James Owusu, who were also arrested with drugs at the Accra Airport, just days after Ibrahim Sima was arrested, were couriers.

My hope is that the security agents will get them to show who the real drug barons are.

As I have already mentioned, I have seen people whose lives were destroyed by drugs, some of them elementary school mates of mine.

It is for their sake and others like them that I am always passionate when it comes to matters of drugs. The fight against the drug trade is tough, as even big countries like the USA, have become painfully aware. But, let it not be said that when it mattered most, some people did not play their parts well, as we saw in the cases of the missing drugs at the Police Headquarters and the MV Benjamin; otherwise we will wake up one day, and have the Mexico situation on our hands.

For now let us congratulate the security agents at the Accra airport for a job well done, and hope that the exercise has come to stay. Whilst we are at it, let us also congratulate the security agencies for seizing the vessel with cocaine at the Tema port.

Again, let it not be said some day, that for the love of money, this country lost it when it mattered most by refusing to deal decisively with drug baron, their couriers and those in national security who compromised their positions.
Source: Culled from HOT ISSUES with Baba Abdulai/The Spectator

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