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Over To You, Mr. President!

Mon, 8 Jun 2009 Source: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw

Yaw Opare-Asamoa


It’s often said that there is no smoke without fire and nowhere in this world is this truer than in Ghana. Rumours, they say, do not really exist in Ghana-they almost always turn out to be true. So this ‘huhu-huhu’ thing that started involving the Sports Minister has turned out to be way beyond what I ever imagined. Immediately the story broke out, I had wanted to react to it but I took a step back and decided to wait it out. Then came the directive from the President asking the minister for a written defense. It was very important to hear the minister’s side of the story so I waited for it. I read that defense today and I really have no words to describe it.

The minister told the president that the allegations were all lies. After going through his defense I have no doubt at all as to where the truth lies. As far as this minister is concerned, he knows practically nothing about the workings of the ministry. He just followed suggestions and pieces of advice from the technical people of the ministry-the very people he claims were out to get him.

Edith Zineuali is no girlfriend of his. Ok. According to the minister this lady made the trip to Cote d’Ivoire primarily because the Chief Director said it was ok. I think they took her along simply because she is the secretary to the majority leader in parliament. Since when did that position become a ‘specialized’ one that qualifies her to go on such a trip?

What was his defense against the alleged ‘appropriation’ of GH2000 as per diem instead of GH1200? Is this the way the NDC ‘saints’ are ‘accounting’ for our money? Just a trip to Cote d’Ivoire attracts a per diem of GH1200?? Hmmm! Well the minister says he was set up. Why? Because the Principal Accountant of the ministry is ‘disgruntled after he was transferred’ WOW!! The minister did not tell us the direction of this transfer? Did he become the Principal Accountant after the transfer? If not, then in what capacity, after his transfer, did he manage to supposedly set up the minister? Let’s listen to the minister in his own words, “I was never told that the GH1200 was my maximum allowable per diem on that occasion. Secondly, the voucher should have been prepared by the Accountant for the said GH1200 since he should have been aware that that is the maximum allowable per diem on that occasion” By the way why are we talking about per diem here? I thought Kojo Bonsu told us he personally sponsored the trip. Or even if a private trip is organized, they still draw per diem from the State!! Eei, this Minister paaa! Did he really believe that for a ‘simple’ trip to Cote d’Ivoire, he was entitled to GH2000 as per diem? Is he not part of the supposed ‘lean government’ that the President is promoting? What did he tell the Accountant when he presented a voucher with such an amount to him? Didn’t the amount sound too much for him? He couldn’t feel anything inside his conscience? Apparently he felt very comfortable with the GH2000 per diem and that’s why he did not say a word to anybody. O, Ghana! I tell you, these politicians are something else ooo!

Another statement of defense was this, “Since it was their design to scandalize me they deliberately prepared a voucher which they knew exceeded my maximum allowable per diem on that occasion and then approved it so that when, I, in ignorance of the maximum allowable and assuming that my staff acting professionally and properly in the determination of my per diem, took the money they would be able to use it as part of their ammunitions against me.” Can the Minister explain something to me? Is he trying to pass the buck to his staff?? Is he not aware that as the minister, he is ultimately responsible for everything that his staff does? And since when did ignorance of the law become a valid excuse? If you ask me, his attempt at defense is just hogwash!!

It is true there is a mafia at the Sports ministry; remember Mallam Issa? It is for this very reason that the minister’s excuses of ‘ignorance’ are not acceptable. He knew where he was going to, when he was appointed to that ministry, and he knew exactly the people he was going to deal with. He even said that it was ‘their design to scandalize’ him. If he knew all this why did he not do due diligence before signing off on the money and ‘flying off’ to Cote d’Ivoire to go chill? I don’t know about the President, but this defense does not wash with me!

He’s also being accused of single-handedly arranging the accommodation and feeding of the Black Stars team in Kenya and Sudan. The minister says he rather made huge savings by opening up the process through competitive bidding. Why he should personally be involved in accommodation and feeding arrangements beats me, but, hey, I am ready to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. The truth will definitely come out later. Then there is the charge regarding some monies for baby food, mouthwash and other household items. “Eei, some people dey enjoy proper proper for Ghana o, ino bi small” Once again, according to him, he allowed the refund to be made to him based on ‘misleading’ advice from the Principal Accountant. O, this Principal Accountant!!!

Does this minister think that Ghanaians are that stupid? He’s been caught ‘pants down’ and now he’s blaming everybody else but himself. How did the Principal Accountant know about his household purchases? And why would the Principal Accountant walk up to him and offer a refund for items that he, the minister, had not discussed with him?

He further nails himself by stating that a Senior Accountant told him not to but he went ahead anyway. He took it because the Principal Accountant (the same one out to get him) assured him it was alright. Didn’t the President send him over there to effect changes? Didn’t he have a mandate to put a stop to all rotten practices at the ministry? Apparently not!! The ball is in the President’s court. His decision, on this case, would go a long way to set the tone for his presidency. So, over to you Prof. Let’s see what you have.

Written and submitted on June 5, 2009

Columnist: Opare-Asamoa, Yaw