Opinions Thu, 11 Feb 2010

President Mills, so far so good but …….

Change is good. Whatever form it takes, at least it brings variety. As the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life”. In all cases of change, a proportion of people will be against it. In a democracy, we must all as Ghanaians accept who our leader is and work together to move the country forward. Mr President, be aware and convinced that the fact that you won the election, means you have the support of the majority of Ghanaians. Aheekoo…

Just as in the year 2000 the change that brought NPP to power resulted in the reduction in inflation and stabilisation of the Cedi, the same has happened this time with the NDC change from 2008. However, since the NDC has few more years to cross its first four years, it remains to be seen if this current stability will be permanent.

Mr President, although you did not receive enough goodwill from the citizenry as your predecessor, Mr Kuffour did, I believe you have been pretty calm about your approach to governance. Perhaps, it derives from your earlier experience as a former Vice- President. You are therefore not as novice as Mr Kuffour was.

Based on the above premise, some of us expect a higher standard from you compared to Mr Kuffour. More especially, as you have been touted by many as possessing such attributes as been credible, dignified, good listener, modest and prim and proper personality.

Mr President, as far as the general governance of the country is concerned, so far so good. However, the way you dealt with Hon. Muntaka’s saga still linger in people’s minds and continue to make news at the least opportunity. Personally, I think the mode of visa acquisition for the lady who travelled with Muntaka should have attracted a charge relating to subterfuge rather than indiscretion because he used a falsified designation to describe the lady’s role. Anyway, let us leave Hon. Muntaka to go in peace and serve his constituents.

Mr President, one very important issue that baffles me, however, is the one regarding declaration of assets by your appointees. My confusion emanates from the fact that even Bill Gates and Sir Richard Branson who would have wished that God extended the 24 hours a day to about 36 hours a day for them because of their ubiquitous nature and having to run several businesses at the same time and therefore needed a longer day can, within a month, pick a form and list all the numerous businesses they run and their locations globally. They can also enumerate their assets and properties and personal cars and vehicles they possess.

It baffles me therefore that some Ghanaian government appointees, nominated, appointed and approved by you, would REFUSE to declare their assets more than 12 months after you inducted them into their various offices. In fact, it is incredible and also sounds like a fairy tale.

I must confess that I was deeply disappointed at the answers you gave to Journalists at the Castle during the first anniversary of your administration when a question relating to this issue was asked. Mr President, frankly, I think that any Minister who cannot pick a simple form to complete a declaration that he or she has, for example, 5 houses, 3 farms, 6 vehicles, 2 tractors etc, then clearly such an appointee does not only have criminal intentions but is actually a criminal. Mr President, with all due respect, analyse it yourself once more. Unless the declaration process is very cumbersome and laborious than we can imagine in our country.

Dishonourable Isaac Edumadze, even though was unable to give the exact number of his assets and properties, at least, was able to guess or estimate what he thought he had. So for your appointees not to attempt at all, will mean going below Mr Edumadze’s standard. This will be a very serious indictment on your administration.

Again, further analysis make me recall that famous Hon. Maxwell Kofi Jumah tape, where he said, allegedly that as then candidate Mills, you will not be suitable for President because you were not your own man. Besides, you were too soft or feeble to oversee and control your subjects or subordinates.

Mr. President, on the one hand you seem to have proven Mr. Kofi Jumah wrong by exhibiting the capacity of being your own man and taking your own decisions. On the hand, however, you seem to vindicate Mr Kofi Jumah when he says you are too soft and cannot control your subjects; as exemplified in the case of the asset declaration.

Considering that we are in a country where journalists and the entire population would always want to know the reasons why appointees have been sacked, Mr. President, can you imagine the credit that will accrue to you and the high standard you would have set if it was announced one morning or evening that a number of appointees have been sacked for failure to declare their assets? Doing so will mean, you are sending a clear signal to Ghanaians that you do not condone and tolerate executive defiance. Also, you would have indicated to Ghanaians that the change that brought you to power has resulted in a corresponding change in the status quo. Mr President, it is never too late.

Also, Mr President, please never think that some of these disobedient appointees are your best Ministers and have attracted your sympathy. Do not forget that even yourself, several people had no confidence in you but with the change you have proved them wrong and are delivering to the best of your ability. Mr. President, sack the recalcitrant appointees and their replacements will even do a better job. Again, just recently, our young stars replaced their seniors in Angola but did even better for the country.

Perhaps, as a first step, the institution in charge of asset declaration should publish the names of these disobedient appointees; followed by their dismissal.

Mr President, raise your vigilance because overlooking this important issue which is a fundamental cornerstone to fighting corruption, goes a long way to ruin your credibility and nullify your much trumpeted desire at reducing corruption. For example, you are quoted recently as saying that “any fight against corruption should start at the leadership level, because the menace often led to unpleasant results”. Again, you said, “it must be demonstrated that corruption should not be encouraged and the passage of anti-corruption legislation was to strengthen the ability to monitor and check the vice in society”. But Mr. President, how can these new laws work if the already existing simple and basic principles like asset declaration is not enforced and complied with? Or would it again be the case that “CORRUPTION STARTED FROM ADAM”?

Mr President, it is important that you don’t only raise the standard of Ghana’s democratic process but try making history as well. After over forty years of his overthrow, Ghanaians are still celebrating Dr Kwame Nkrumah. We are comparing your modesty to Dr Nkrumah and so do we expect very high standards similar to Dr Nkrumah. We believe you can do it with determination.

Mr. President, please don’t overlook or ignore the very basic principles, laws and legislations of the land. They are those people would use to judge your administration.

Thank you and Happy New Year.

Jerome Annoh-Manso

( annohmanso@yahoo.com)

Columnist: Annoh-Manso, Jerome