Friday, September 19, 2014

The Good News and the Deceitful News

Those who followed Jesus did so because of his life. But because of Paul’s ignorance about his life, many who follow Jesus now do so because of bogus claims about his death.

The good news proclaimed in the churches today is false. It is different from the one Jesus preached. Today’s good news is the one declared by Paul: “the good news of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24). This says: “Rejoice: Jesus died for our sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Accordingly, Christians insist Jesus carried away all our sins at Calvary. In exchange, he is alleged to have imparted to us the righteousness of God.

If this were true, it would be wonderful news indeed. It would mean once we answer the altar-call and declare that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour; we are automatically “born again.” We become heaven-bound because we believe and trust in “the completed works of Christ.” Whatever happens; Jesus has done it for us. We are saved by the magnanimity of God’s grace and not because of any works of righteousness on our part. (Ephesians 2:8).

However, the problem with this good news is that it is one big deception. It is actually contrary to the true good news that Jesus delivered. Paul was not one of Jesus’ disciples during his ministry. He never heard Jesus preach and he displays unpardonable ignorance about Jesus’ doctrine in his epistles. Bereft of the discipleship of Jesus, Paul fabricated his own Christology. His epistles ignore Jesus’ life while focusing exclusively on his crucifixion. Thus, Paul says disingenuously: “I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.” (1 Corinthians 2:2).


However, the good news Jesus proclaimed has nothing whatsoever to do with his “death” on the cross or with any sacrifice for sins. This is because Jesus and his disciples preached their good news before his crucifixion. So doing, not once did they say he would die for our sins. On the contrary, their good news requires everyone to carry his own cross and do away with his own sins.

Jesus says: “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). This shows Jesus’ good news is about the coming of the kingdom of God. If it was about him taking away our sins, there would have been no point in asking us to repent for the same sins. What would be the point of repenting if Jesus has taken or will take away our sins?

Indeed, if Jesus has really taken away our sins, how come Christians are still so sinful? How come “sinless” priests are still raping young boys? How come “sinless” pastors continue to swindle the gullible poor of their meager savings? If, according to Paul, Christians are now new creatures in whom “old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17); why are we still stealing, cheating, telling lies, fornicating and committing adultery?


Don’t be deceived by enticing words. The true good news is not about the unmerited grace of God. If it were, there would be no need to repent for repentance is by works and not by grace. The true good news is about the coming of the kingdom of God. Moreover, compulsive and unrepentant sinners are not welcome in God’s kingdom. Entry into the kingdom is also by works and not by grace. Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who DOES the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21).

For this reason, John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner of Jesus. He came “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4). Accordingly, Jesus’ good news requires a penitent response. If we believe the good news that God’s kingdom has come down to men, then we should repent of sin so that we can enter and secure our inclusion in the kingdom.

I repeat: the true good news is that Jesus brought the heavenly kingdom of God down to earth. The evidence for this is right there in his superlative ministry. Jesus raised the dead; signaling the triumph of life over death. He healed the sick; announcing the end of human suffering. He multiplied loaves of bread; pointing to the satisfaction of all physical need.

He stilled the storm; heralding the emergence of peace on earth. He forgave sins; proclaiming the dawning of righteousness. He cast out demons; demonstrating the overthrow of the kingdom of Satan. Therefore, he said to his Jewish opponents: “If I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.” (Luke 11:20).


The true good news is also that what used to be the exclusive preserve of God, has now become available to men through Jesus Christ. It is now possible not only to be like God, but actually to become children of God. That is why John exclaimed: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” Therefore, he counsels: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3).

Those who have this hope in them do not fool themselves that Jesus has taken away their sins by sacrificing himself. Those who have this hope in them purify themselves. They are purified by hiding the words of Jesus in their hearts, and by repenting of sin and abstaining from sin. In short, the good news offers a narrow gate that leads to life; while the deceitful news offers a wide gate that leads to destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14).

Those who are disciples of Jesus receive the power to become children of God. (John 1:12). We are indwelt by the Spirit of God and can do the wonderful works of God. Jesus says: “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:7-8). This is most certainly good news.


 Jesus’ birth brought the good news and not his “death.” (Luke 2:10-11). Jesus came that we may have abundant life. (John 10:10). Therefore, we are required to emulate his exemplary life. Indeed, those who followed Jesus did so because of his life. But because of Paul’s ignorance about his life, many who follow Jesus now do so because of bogus claims about his death.
Paul says: “If Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty.” (1 Corinthians 15:14). However, Jesus’ resurrection is not part of the good news. On the contrary, the resurrection is “a sign of Jonah;” reserved for those who do not believe. Jesus says: “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:4).

Without Calvary, Zacchaeus received the good news of the kingdom and Jesus declared that salvation had come to his house. (Luke 19:8-10). As a matter of fact, in one of Jesus’ stories, Abraham de-emphasizes the resurrection by saying: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NPP & The Concordia Ventures Affair (1)

At about this time, there appeared the first signs of unrest and conflict within the NPP. To begin with, there had been complaints from many quarters about the way in which the Party’s flag-bearer in the 1996 presidential elections, Mr. J.A. Kufuor, had conducted his campaign. Some sections of the party laid the blame for the loss of the elections on Kufuor and accused him of “political duplicity and financial impropriety”. 

Among the accusations was the claim that the former presidential candidate had diverted into his private account donations that had been made by party supporters outside Ghana. Allegations were also made that Kufuor had used the name of the NPP to enter into business deals, using the stamp of the party without the knowledge or the approval of the party leadership. 

An example of the transactions was the case in which it was claimed that Kufuor and his campaign team had bought 55 motorbikes from a private company in the name of the party. It was alleged that they had paraded the motorbikes as gifts from Friends of J.A. Kufuor (FOJAK), and had used the transaction as a proof of their ability to raise financial support for the NPP.

Subsequently, the company that supplied the motorbikes, Concordia Ventures Ltd, claimed that it had not been paid for the purchase and took legal action against the NPP in the High Court in Accra. The party executives, led by the National Chairman, Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey, challenged the suit on the ground that the NPP leadership had not endorsed the purchase of the motorbikes from Concordia Ventures.

He contended that, although the signatories of the transaction-Alhaji Issaka Inusah and Tommy Amematekpor-had claimed to be acting on behalf of the NPP, neither of them had necessary authority to commit the Party. Further the Party Chairman maintained that at no time was the sale agreement with Concordia Ventures ratified by the Party leadership.

He explained that the only people who had the appropriate power and authority to seal the deal in the name of the Party were himself as the Chairman, the Treasurer and the General Secretary of the Party. According to the Chairman, Inusah and Amematekpor had acted in their capacities as Chairman and Logistic Manager, respectively, of Kufuor’s campaign team. Chairman Adjetey, therefore, argued that the persons who could be held liable for the amount owing to Concordia Ventures were Kufuor and the members of his campaign team who had entered into transaction. The NPP as a party had no responsibility in the matter.   

This view was challenged by both Kufuor and his camp and also by Concordia Ventures Ltd. Kufuor continued to maintain that the purchase of the motorbikes was a legitimate transaction on behalf of the NPP and in the name of the Party. In this connection, it is worth observing that the argument of Chairman Adjetey that the signatories of the sale agreement were acting in their personal capacities as members of the presidential campaign team of Kufuor appeared to imply that Kufuor’s presidential campaign team was in some way independent of the NPP.

For its part, Concordia Ventures argued that the agreement had been concluded with officials of the campaign team of Mr. J. A. Kufuor, who was the NPP’s presidential candidate in the 1996 elections. They claimed that the transaction had been entered into with the full knowledge, consent and blessing of the NPP, and for the benefit of that Party.

While the ruling of the High Court on the case was awaited sometime in early July 1997, a bombshell was thrown into the Party in the form of serious allegations of financial impropriety against Mr. J.A. Kufuor.
In a strongly worded letter addressed to the National Chairman, Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey, one Mr. Colin Essamuah, a member of the Party, called for an immediate inquiry into the management of the finances of NPP campaign for the 1996 presidential elections. In the communication, Mr. Essamuah made allegations which impugned the integrity of the Party’s presidential candidate and four others in regard to the party’s finances in the 1996 elections. As a step, Mr. Essamuah demanded the immediate suspension of J.A. Kufuor from the Party and the banning of the party’s General Secretary, Agyenim Boateng.

In response to the letter, the Chairman appointed a committee to probe the allegations against Kufuor and four others mentioned by Mr. Essamuah. The Committee was under the chairmanship of Mr. Anthony Deku, a senior member of the Party and a former member of the NLC (National Liberation Council) which ruled the country from February 1966 to September 1969. The other members of the Committee were Mr. Daniel Charles Gyimah of USAID and Ms. Gloria Akuffo, a strong party member and a lawyer at Nana Addo Dankwa Chambers. 

The Committee was charged to investigate the management of finances for the 1996 presidential elections. Unfortunately, the committee took the view that because the NPP had included the motorbikes and other items as its asserts and had so reported to the Electoral Commission, there was no issue to be probed regarding the purchase of the motorbikes. Therefore, it decided that it would only call Essamuah to substantiate the charges it had leveled against Kufuor. Essamuah did not take kindly to this and protested vehemently to chairman of the party.

It happened that the attorneys for Concordia Ventures were from the law of Kujawu & Co. which was believed to have strong links with the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). It came as no surprise, therefore, that the NDC used the allegations in the case to its advantage by accusing the Party and its leadership of financial and other improprieties.

On 9 June 1998, J.A Kufuor replied to Colin Essamuah’s letter through the Pioneer newspaper. He referred to offences that he and his campaign team were alleged to have committed, including the illegal acquisition of some motorbikes and bicycles; the collection of separate amounts of £25,000 and $100,000 from party supporters as well as an amount of ¢50 million from Nana Akwasi Agyeman, the Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive. All the sums of money were intended for the 1996 election campaign but which had allegedly found their way into their pockets. He vehemently denied the allegations and described them as unfounded and very misleading, adding that they must therefore not be taken seriously.

Concerning the moneys he was alleged to have collected abroad, he denied ever collecting and pocketing such large sums of money. The 1996 NPP Presidential candidate also said that any debt incurred in the course of the campaign ought to be borne by the party as a whole and not any individual. He further said that if, in spite of this, the Party felt that it would probe them at all costs then they should go ahead. He, however, cautioned the committee which would undertake the probe to let truthfulness and transparency prevail during the probe.
In a story written by Steve Mallory in the issue of The African Observer of Monday June 15-Sunday June 28, 1998, Mr. Kojo Mpainim, the Director of Finance of Kufuor’s 1996 campaign, made an attack on the Chairman of the Party. He accused Mr. Adjetey of engaging in a politically motivated fishing expedition. He claimed that the party chairman had said privately to his close associates that he would quit his position as Chairman of the NPP if Kufuor were re-nominated as the Party’s presidential candidate for the elections to be held in the year 2000. 

Mpainim was quoted as saying that “the only way therefore for (Adjetey) to remain as chairman for the party was to tarnish the image of Kufuor, using surrogates like Colin Essamuah to write a scurrilous letter and use it as a basis for a so-called probe”.
Mpainim also alleged that Adjetey had been conspiring and plotting with “some political generals” to reduce the influence of Kufuor in the NPP and scuttle his bid for a second attempt at the presidency. He alleged that Kwame Donkoh Fordwor, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Party, was one of the “architects of the dirty scheme” to destroy Kufuor. These allegations were, of course, hotly denied by both Peter Adjetey and Dr. Donkoh Fordwor who described them as absurd.

The decision in the case between the Concordia Ventures Ltd. and the NPP was given on Friday 24 July 1997. The Accra High Court presided over by his Lordship Justice Nana Gyamera Tawiah ruled that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was liable for the settlement of an outstanding amounts of $90,000 and ¢16,460,000 owed to Concordia Ventures for the purchase of 55 Yamaha motorbikes in 1996.
The court also granted the company’s claim for interest at the rate of 47 percent, effective from November 15, 1996. Costs in the sum of 5 million cedis were also awarded against the NPP.

 Concordia Ventures was represented by Mr. Kwadwo Amoafo of Kudjawu Chambers. The NPP defence team, led by the veteran lawyer Mr. T.D. Broddie-Mends, was conspicuously absent from court.
Giving reasons for the ruling, Justice Nana Gyamera said, “I am really at a loss as to how the defendants (NPP) can be said not to have authorized a logistics director and a campaign manager to order the motorbikes for their campaign activities during the 1996 elections”. 

He said that at the time the agreement was ratified in October 1996, political party campaigns for power in the 1996 elections were “at its highest pitch”. He noted that the action of the Director of Logistics and the Campaign Manager in procuring motorbikes was something which the party knew of and from which it benefited. Hence the NPP, and not the 1996 campaign team, should be held liable. “I therefore find their defence to be a hollow one and accordingly enter judgment in favour of plaintiff (Concordia Ventures Ltd) as prayed for with costs assessed as ¢5 million”.  
…to be continued