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General News Sun, 28 Sep 2008

Baah-Wiredu did not condone corruption-Former colleague

Accra, Sept. 28, GNA- Mr. Alabira Ibrahim, former Special Assistant to the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on Sunday extolled him as a very diligent and honest man who did not condone corruption.

He stressed: "I believe that Kwadwo Baah never condoned corruption even if it meant dealing with cases on the quiet. I knew of instances while I worked with him at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, when he said no-thank-you to people and ordered the return of gifts to senders." Mr. Ibrahim, Former Convention Peoples Party (CPP) Member of Parliament (MP), for Mion, said his intrinsic worth might have endeared President John Agyekum Kufuor to name him as his first Cabinet Minister.

In a tribute made available to the Ghana News Agency, he said: "To say that Kwadwo Baah was very hard working will be an under statement. Whatever he did, he did with all his might and with all his heart. He was meticulous with the examination of documents however voluminous. "I came to know Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu as a colleague in the second Parliament of the Fourth Republic (1997-2000). When I lost my seat in the 2000 elections, he invited me to join him at the Ministry of Local Government where I worked as his Special Assistant for about 18 months." He said as MP he worked closely with him, especially on the Public Accounts Committee of which he was the Vice Chairman. Mr. Ibrahim said he often chaired the committee sittings because the then Chairman Mr J.H Mensah, was busy performing other duties as Minority Leader.

"Mr Baah-Wiredu attended every scheduled committee meeting and when attendance was low, he could always count on me too to be present and so we became close." The former MP said Mr. Baah-Wiredu was a workaholic who came to work early and left the office late, sometimes after 2000 hours, when he had cleared his desk.

"He insisted on hard work and would call on officers to discuss their work, give people tasks or listen to reports; he would go round peeping into offices and greeting workers. To the surprise of many, I sometimes accompanied him to the workers canteen downstairs to eat lunch.

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"In his Parliamentary duties, his favourite was the yearly Financial Statement (Budget) sent to Parliament for debate and approval. In those days, Kwadwo Baah would scrutinize the Budget Statement from cover to cover and make copious notes on every page. In later years, when I visited him at the Finance Ministry, I heard him insisting that his secretary should send an advance copy of the Budget to Dr Nii Moi Thomsom of the CPP whose views he respected and cherished." Mr. Ibrahim said Mr. Baah-Wiredu was a very humble and down to earth person who dressed simply and preferred to wear a tie only for the Chamber of Parliament or for formal occasions.

He noted that, the late Minister did not create an atmosphere of self-importance around him and was always smiling, not insulting or being saucy even when he was heckled on the floor of Parliament. "One got a sense of how frugal this man was when you visited his house, you would see that, humility permeated the whole household from his wife to his daughters.

"Initially, at the Local Government Ministry, he insisted on using just a small saloon car while in Accra and did so till I left. He preferred using such smaller cars rather than being wasteful in a 4x4 vehicle just to run round Accra." Mr Ibrahim said he was courteous and respected everyone he encountered, listening to their problems whether official and personal.

"He answered every phone call with a sincere "yes sir" or "senior" without knowing who might be at the other end. His office door was always open to all and when the queue in his reception was long, he would occasionally pop out to assure the visitors waiting to see him of audience.

"One weekend in 2002, there was a knock on the front door of my flat which was answered by my daughter. And to her utter surprise Mr Baah-Wiredu was at the door. He had come to discuss a draft document on decentralisation that I was working on, and which he was to present at a Mini-Consultative Group meeting with the International Monetary Fund the following Monday. When he left my daughter wondered why he had not called me, but rather chose to come to a subordinate to discuss work!" Mr Ibrahim described Mr Baah-Wiredu as a very well-organised person who kept a daily record of activities that occurred in diaries, many volumes of which he was sure he filled up during nearly eight years as Cabinet Minister, and the last volume of which would have been with him till he passed away in South Africa. "I like to end by paraphrasing the words of an old song which goes: Has anybody here seen my friend Kwadwo Baah? Can you tell Ghanaians where he is gone? He worked so hard for Ghana. But it seems the good die young. Ghanaians just looked around and he was gone. "Kwadwo Baah loved to serve mother Ghana and did it wholeheartedly thus giving meaning to the word "Patriotism. He was a true Patriot."

Source: GNA
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