General News of Mon, 26 Jan 20049
Drama at People's Forum: Minister quizzes teenager
A FORM two student of Konongo-Odumase Secondary School, Master Sulley Ramani, tasted some bitter pills when he was allegedly grilled by the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, at the recent Asante Akim people’s assembly forum, for attempting to read his questions to the minister. It was gathered that Ramani, 18, was reprimanded for asking written questions on behalf of his senior brother, and for his role in a recent demonstration at his school.
When The Chronicle contacted Ramani about what happened, he explained that his older brother, who was unable to attend the people’s forum at the time, wrote some questions for him to ask at the function.
“My brother wanted to know the state of two pupils who were knocked down by the District Chief Executive, George Frimpong, killing one on the spot and deforming the other because there was controversy in the district about who was driving the car at the time, as the DCE was alleged to have framed up his driver as the culprit,” he told the paper.
He said his brother also wanted a clarification on whether a DCE was allowed to use or drive an official vehicle, which a chauffeur was paid to drive.
According to the teenager, the third question that baffled the big men at the forum was about why the assembly members were still undertaking contracts when President Kufuor had given an ultimatum to all assembly members undertaking contracts in the districts to hand over the remaining contracts to the assemblies to be re-awarded to non-assembly members, as the law binds every citizen of Ghana.
Expressing shock at what happened to him, he said, “As a citizen of Ghana where democracy prevails, especially in this NPP time, I feel the MP, who doubles as the minister of state, was very unfair to me for not only preventing me from asking my questions for answers but also denying me my democratic rights.”
“Even if I did not write the questions myself, what was wrong if questions were written for me to ask at such a forum for explanation?” He asked.
According to Ramani, he was preparing a petition to be given to the President to look into the conduct of the minister so that he would be called to order to deter others from engaging in any action of the sort “since such actions would tarnish the image of the NPP.”
When the minister was contacted last week, he confirmed the story.
He said he quizzed the young man because he was a minor and, above all, the odd one among 30 questioners.
According to the minister, he took the action when he realized that the boy could not read the questions written for him.
“We are moulding the young ones to take over from us in future but if we are training them in a wrong manner, it is very bad,” Minister Baah-Wiredu noted.
According to him, nobody threatened or intimidated anyone because the purpose of the forum was to allow everyone to express their opinions.
“But to ask somebody who is a minor and who cannot even read what has been written for him was very wrong. What prevented the senior brother of the minor from coming over and asking the questions?” He asked.
Baah-Wiredu contended that if “we fail to train and mould the youth and inculcate good morality in them, especially the children, the future of the nation would be bleak,” adding that his reason for grilling the student was to foster morality.
Responding to a question as to whether it was wrong for anybody to ask a written question on behalf of another person or not, the minister said, “It was completely wrong to ask somebody who knows nothing about a question to ask it, and more so even falter in asking the question.”
Baah-Wiredu denied issuing threats, and said he only reminded the people at the forum about the recent student riot at the Konongo Odumase Secondary School, warning, “people should desist from inculcating immorality in the children.”