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Opinions Tue, 13 May 2014

One Man-show: Amissah-Arthur Economic Forum?

By Johnson Kwabre

Dispite appearances, all is not well in the ruling party and government about the so-called National Economic Forum to be held on 13th May 2014. Insiders say personality clashes and personal agendas at the Presidency, more than a lack of knowledge of what to do about the economy, is what is hurting the economy and will undermine what is chalked to be one of President Mahama's biggest events.

These insiders "blame" it all on Dr. Bawumia of the NPP and his gargantuan lecture on the economy a few months back which put the NDC government on the back foot.

After that lecture, many were those who asked, "Where is the vice president," who is also the chairman of President Mahama’s economic management team.

For strange reasons, the vice president, H.E. Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, kept quite, a situation which angered many party faithfuls, especially since he was a former governor of the Bank of Ghana while Bawumia was a "mere" deputy.

The anger in the party led many foot soldiers to wonder what's the use of having him as vice president if he won't use his position to attack the opposition. This led to calls for president Mahama to replace him with Hannah Tetteh, the current foreign minister, in 2016.

To save his position, the vice president quickly sneaked the idea of the forum onto the president's agenda. The president, not knowing that he was being used by his vice, quickly boasted about the forum on his Facebook wall.

Sources inside government say there was so much secrecy surrounding the preparation for the forum that senior government officials, including the president's senior advisors, the chief of staff, the National Development Planning Commission (whose chairman is also senior presidential advisor), and even critical sector ministers were left out of the planning of the forum. The task of organising the Forum was left to amateurs like Emalia Arthur, formally of the National Reform Party, who is now a "presidential staffer" and have no experience in organising such events.

According to these sources, even though some of them have been listed in the programme as speakers and resources persons, these officials includuing ministers, do not know exactly what their roles are or what they are supposed to do. Some have even planned to boycott the forum with the excuse of being sick or traveling abroad.

"My brother I don't know what is happening to our great party. We have the people. We have the experience. Buy some people have infiltrated our ranks and damaging us for 2016," said one insider who did not want to be named. "The vice president has to go before it is too late".

The finance minister, who has been at loggerheads with the vice president for sometime, is among those who have been sidelined. It appears that the vice president, a former deputy finance minister who as Governor of the central bank was said to be at loggerheads with former Finance Minister Duffuor, is doing everything to compensate for his “loss” to Dr Bawumia, who also floored him in the debate during the 2012 elections.

At the Forum, he will serve as the self-appointed chairman, giving him the opportunity to finally respond to Dr. Bawumia without having to face tough questions from the media. Instead of National Economic Forum, we are likely to have an Amissah-Arthur Form, a one-man show with no challengers.

It remains to be seen how successful the forum will be as the finance minister is crucial to the implementation of all government policies.

Columnist: Kwabre, Johnson