Return of The PAC

Mon, 27 Aug 2012 Source: Casely-Hayford, Sydney

Critical News, 26th August 2012

Sydney Casely-Hayford, sydney@bizghana.com

I had a big surprise this week and it was a good one. I buy my top-ups from the car on the way to work. I know it is illegal to do so, but Mayor Vanderpuye is still mourning his wife and president and I feel at liberty to do a little wrong. Anyway, this young man who usually sells me Expresso top up, came to the window Friday morning and with a very broad smile announced to me that he had been offered a place with the University of Development Studies to do a degree in Integrated Management Science. It was such a delight to hear. I never thought of him as a SHS student in the first place, but for him to be Uni material, I was chuffed. My view of these hawking young men and women has changed, there might yet be hope around the corner. I never figured there were potential university students selling stuff and cleaning windshields to survive. Such a failure in employment policy.

As I thought, President Mahama’s speech to the nation whimpered out. Even the radio stations lost interest after day 1. What rather engaged us was his “Thank You Tour”. The President decided he would go round the country and thank us all for supporting him after the death of his boss. When he was asked why he was making campaign promises on the same platform, using Government resources for the purpose, he said he was doing no such thing. Yet, we all heard him clearly promising the Volta Region Traditional Council that he would not abandon them as the NDC “World Bank”. We heard similar remarks wherever he went. That is not so much a bother, since the NPP did similar during their time. What I do not understand is why President Mahama is carrying on as if he is the single bereaved person from John Evans Atta Mills’ death. The man died while serving as the president of Ghana. We all lost a leader. This is a political maneuver by the NDC, they need the sympathy attachment to the late president and it is quite clear what they are doing, with full ads running in the national papers, showing him and the late Mills in flowing clothes striding towards a better Ghana.

He still refuses to honor the invitation from the IEA to join the debate of leaders for the future.

Nana Addo was at the IEA to set the stage for his real fight to become president of Ghana. My personal hurdle for Nana Addo is very high and I am judging President John Mahama at the same apex. As usual, he delivered well and managed not to scowl as badly, which always perceptibly looks as if he is too far ahead of everyone. The content was not new and he answered his questions ok. But there is a problem with the financing of his flagship free SHS program. I heard Communications Director Nana Akomea struggling on Joyfm’s Newsfile on Saturday to come up with the actual cost of the program. He could only say that $78 million was for additional costs of the program. Well, fine. But someone has to make a very robust case for one of the best ideas yet from either of the big two parties.

Martin Amidu made some noise again this week, but he has drifted his case toward the NDC party when I think he should look at loftier State matters. We are still waiting for the Supreme Court to set some key dates for critical legislation to be clarified. Martin is in the middle of this.

The 45 new Districts might also not see the light of day, with a challenge in court over LI1983. Former AG Ayikoi Otoo is in the middle of that challenge. Parliament might not have enough time for the 21-day vigil.

Our sedulous Chairman of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC), Mr. Kan Dapaah provoked a fight with his NDC compatriots on the PAC. This revolved around Mr. Agbesi Woyome, who has defied the reach of the PAC, refusing to respond to summons and literally challenging the authority of the PAC to fact-find about the ghc51.2million judgment debt. This time, Mr. Agbesi Woyome claims the notice to appear before the committee was too short and he lives in Accra, which is a traffic-congested city and can take an inordinate amount of time to get from his East Legon office to Parliament house. He also claimed he did not receive the summons till one hour to appear. So Mr. Kan Dapaah threatened to write to the IGP to have him arrested and brought before Parliament.

No sooner was this out than the NDC First Deputy Speaker Mr. Edward Doe Adjaho went public to condemn Kan Dapaah’s threat. There is some talk that Doe Adjaho and Agbesi Woyome are pals. At the least, Mr. Woyome is said to have endorsed Mr. Adjaho as the MP for Ave-Avenor, a case in court at this time for election irregularities alleged by Mr. Evans Gadeto Djikunu the other contestant for that seat.

Mr. Doe Adjaho was not alone in this defiance. Another NDC MP for Yape, Mr. Amadu Seidu and a committee member also sailed into the fray and virtually accused Kan Dapaah of usurping powers he did not have.

That both dissensions were made by NDC MPs despite the fact that Tarzan Wireko Brobbey was also before the committee that day about Ghana@50 overspend, and no one made a fuss about him, gives us enough to assume that the NDC caucus on the committee is not pleased with their Chairman’s position. We had more or less the same when Betty Mould appeared. Ergo, we have a clear partisan demolition of a case that could make or break the election for the NDC.

I think Mr. Woyome will try and drag this case on for as long as possible, hedging his bets that the NDC will stay in government, in which case the “five-one-two” might never see the tail of a Judge’s gown. Woyome was and probably still is an NDC party financier. It goes to reason that the NDC will do all they can to defend him. Not only him, but other party officials complicit in many arrangements might never be prosecuted.

And that is why when Mr. Theophilus Cudjoe, former head of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) appeared before the PAC, his testimony made the front pages of the two most prominent papers in Ghana, the Daily Graphic and the Daily Guide. Dr. Ato Quarshie a former minister during the PNDC government who lost his job when he could not meet even the lowest corruption standards of that time, kicked up a storm after Mr. Cudjoe left PAC. Talking about the CP case and his investigation into the matter, the former SFO boss stated categorically that Dr. Ato Quarshie is a fugitive in his own country. By 6pm that same day, Nana Ato Dadzie, counsel for Dr. Quarshie attacked Mr. Cudjoe’s statements with a very weak counter argument about his client’s innocence. Nana Ato Dadzie is also defending Betty Mould Iddrissu on the same CP case, and is also involved in the standoff of the Mabey and Johnson case, in which some former ministers and members of the NDC party are being investigated for bribery. That case is hanging somewhere between the CHRAJ and the Appeal Court. You would think that CHRAJ would follow up and let us know where we stand, heh!

Dr. Ato Quarshie is in Cape Coast someplace contesting the Komenda Edina Eguafo Abrem (KEEA) seat. Has he been arrested or interrogated? Not that I know and I don’t expect it to be so. President Mahama’s Attorney General, Dr. Kunbour will do no such thing and if an NPP Government arrests him, it will be construed as party detestation. If the NDC stays in Government, Ato might be the next MP for KEEA, with a whole big umbrella over his seat in Parliament.

What we do not need is a PAC with no teeth. It will hurt our democracy and weaken our governance. If the PAC cannot pack a punch and ends up with just a bark and no bite, consequent governments will ever rue this time when partisan positions conspired to congeal our legislative arms. The NPP launched its campaign at Mantse Agbonaa on Saturday. We will talk about that next week.

Ghana, Aha a ye de papa. Alius valde week advenio. Another great week to come!

Columnist: Casely-Hayford, Sydney