Weeks of painstaking snooping round the corridors of power revealed a dangerous power play that can potentially wreak incalculable havoc to the less than one-year-old administration of President Mahama and Vice-President Amissah Arthur.
Close sources at the Presidency revealed to these reporters that Vice-President Amissah Arthur has been relegated to the position of being undermined by a Presidential staffer to the point that the said noisy and controversial individual, ensconced at the presidency and very close to the President, is reported to have assumed an aura of more importance than the vice president whom he tries to dictate to.
The Chief of Staff at the office of the President, Mr. Prosper Bani, a former classmate of President Mahama at the University of Ghana and a close confidant of Mr. Suley Gariba, Senior Policy Coordinator; is also said to be so powerful and influential that he is virtually taking over the number two position of the Vice President.
The Al-Hajj cannot, however, confirm whether the conducts of the Chief of Staff and the said presidential staffer has tacit consent of President Mahama; what is however clear is that, we are yet again witnessing the bizarre experience during the Kufuor administration when Chief of Staff Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani was wielding more power than the sitting Vice-President, the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama.
With political candor, President Mahama himself acknowledged when he told the chiefs and people of Cape Coast in the wake of the agonizing death of Professor Mills that when he was Vice President of Ghana, President Mills almost gave him a blank cheque to perform which made him the luckiest vice-president in world history.
“He trained me very well and gave me all the opportunities, such as head of Economic Management Team and chairman of Police Council among others, which made me the luckiest vice-president in the world,” President Mahama disclosed.
But snippets of information originating from the Flag Staff House doesn’t suggest that Vice-President Amissah Arthur is as blessed as the then Veep Mahama, given the distressing experience he is said to be going through.
It would be recalled that, in spite of publicly testifying to his personal cordial and warmth working relationship with the late President John Mills and how he was offered wider opportunities through personal tutelage, it is also a matter of public knowledge that then Veep Mahama, just as the late Veep Aliu Mahama, suffered serious humiliation and breach of authority from operatives who believed they have the eyes and ears of the late President Mills.
Some seem to blame this unfortunate reoccurring phenomenon on the Constitution which has concentrated almost all executive powers in the hands of the president thereby rendering the office of the vice-president nearly impotent. In fact, per the 1992 Constitution, the vice-president can only function at the say so of the president.
However, governance experts say, it is possible for a compassionate and sensitive president to cure the deficiency as was demonstrated by the late President Mills in the period before his demise when he opened his heart and gave room for then Vice-President Mahama to operate.
Insiders have told this newspaper that the selection of Mr. Amissah Arthur as vice-president following the death of the late President Mills was among other things anchored on his economic expertise and his pedigree as Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
NDC sources have revealed again that his choice as a running mate to President Mahama in the run-up to the 2012 election was to counter the apparent acclamation by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) of their running mate Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and his so-called prowess in economic issues, having served as a deputy Governor of the Central Bank.
The Al-Hajj has learnt that Mahama demanded and secured a clearly defined role as a vice-president and also the full assurance of free room to operate from the late President Mills prior to his selection as a running mate in 2008.
However, in the case of Vice-President Amissah Arthur, it was President Mahama who voluntarily defined his role for him just before he was appointed as a running mate in 2012, our investigations have revealed.
Kingpins of the NDC who knew much about circumstances that led to the selection of Mr. Amissah Arthur as Veep say his role in a John Mahama government was to among other things take full responsibility of all matters relating to the management of the national economy apart from the traditional constitutional role of a vice-president.
He is to oversee the operations of all the financial institutions and agencies of government including the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Bank of Ghana.
However, reliable sources close to the Flag Staff House have revealed that things have turned to a different direction as the vice-president is often by-passed on issues relating to the national economy.
“We don’t know what has changed all of a sudden, his views on the operations of the economy and the economic agencies do not matter anymore… there is no wonder that we are currently experiencing a near collapse of the national economy with its attendant hardship among the ordinary people of this country.” A source at the Flag Staff House told this newspaper on the strict condition of anonymity because of the emotive nature of the issue.
What has even aggravated the plight of Vice-President Amissah Arthur according to the source is that, some persons close to the first family regard Mr. Amissah Arthur’s position as not worth paying homage to, in fact, “they don’t show any respect to him and treat his position with contempt. Even if the President directs them to consult the Veep on a subject, they by-pass him and do what they like, with negative repercussions on the national economy.”
“Recently, the President gave a quota to Vice-President Amissah Arthur to select some persons for consideration to boards of government corporations. Whiles on it, the Chief of Staff, Prosper Bani, bulldozed his way and added the Veep’s allocations to the general list that he prepared on behalf of the President. We were not sure whether the President authorized him to take over the quota he had initially given the vice-president,” the source at the Flag Staff House told this newspaper.
However, two other sources close to the presidency gave a counter view on the plight of the Vice-President to this paper.
According to the first source, although President Mahama made a solemn promise to Veep Amissah Arthur before his appointment as the running mate that he will surrender the management of the national economy to him, it was not clear whether that included taking oversight responsibility over the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Bank of Ghana.
The second source said the President was so categorical to the Vice-President Amissah Arthur that having worked in both the Ministry of Finance as a deputy minister and Bank of Ghana as Governor; he was going to surrender those institutions to him, so that he (the President) can concentrate on other sectors of governance, in order to ensure a fair division of labour.
However, the president has a change of mind when his adviser(s) and close family members brought to his attention the dangers of surrendering these two key institutions to his vice.
This unfair treatment of our Veeps, just like what at the initial stage of the late President Mills’ government happened to then vice-president John Mahama to the extent that this paper highlighted how his brother, Mr. Ibrahim Mahama was hounded and compelled to relocate his business to other African countries; has forced the sober Mr. Amissah Arthur to threaten to call it a day if the shabby situation continues.”
These reporters have gathered at the seat of government that operatives of the first family and some staffers have all of a sudden got an insatiable appetite for power to the extent that to them, the Vice-President and his office just exist on paper and not an active player in the day-to-day administration of the country as required by law.