The President is a distressed man, according to insiders. He is pained because he is being asked to sacrifice one of his most hardworking and trusted lieutenants, the Minister of Road Transport, Richard Winfred Anane. Since the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice Friday found Dr Anane liable of perjury, abuse of power and conflict of interest and recommended the Minister's sacking, the pressure has been on.
While opinions are divided on the CHRAJ decision, at least from public comments, it appears Ghanaians are united in seeing the Minister as delivering with distinction on his main brief, which is to build and fix roads in Ghana.
Since 2002, about $1.5 billion have been pumped into the road sector and the Minister has received a lot of credit for his vote-catching development projects.
The President, a big believer in the rule of law, is, however, agonising about a decision many analysts see as inevitable. But, would Dr Anane take a pre-emptive step and resign and save the President from the pain of having to make a decision one way or the other?
"It is a big political price to pay for a person who is so competent and has been a major actor in the government's development programme,” said a member of the Council of State, who spoke to The Statesman Monday.Over the last four years, the Member of Parliament for Nhyiaeso, Kumasi, has seen to the implementation of the most ambitious road construction projects since the First Republic.
The President and many Ghanaians, including even Egbert Faibille of Nationwide hounding, are of the opinion that Dr Anane has been an effective Minister of the Road sector. The evidence of his work is vivid, nationwide. In fact, under Dr Anane, and specifically, for the period between 2002 and 2005, Government, aided by its development partners, invested over $ 1.12 billion, (¢10 trillion) in the road sector, alone.
Again, 33 percent of the total national investment budget of 2006 was voted for road construction and maintenance. But, it is also a fact that an estimated 60 percent of the roads done under Dr Anane have woefully been behind schedule.
In his own words, “over ¢35bn would have been lost to the state in 2005 through the criminal negligence,” of his monitoring team and contractors.
The outwardly low key Dr Anane has, nevertheless, carved a remarkable reputation for himself as one of the most hardworking officials in the Kufuor administration. Not one for flamboyance, his simple, respectful demeanour, attention to detail and dedication to his work and his President have won him several admirers.
In fact, “President Kufuor considers Richard Anane as one of his top three Ministers,” a close aide to the President told The Statesman at the weekend. But, he has over the years, with support from both the media and his well-publicised not-too-extraordinary indiscretions, carved for himself an unenviable reputation as the NPP bogeyman.
The pressure is on. The President is currently in New York to attend the United Nations general assembly. He has instructed his Attorney-General to study the CHRAJ ruling and advise him speedily on the next course of action. It is expected, Ghanaians would have to wait until next week, the earliest, for the President to act on his return home.
This is a very delicate matter for Government. President Kufuor cannot afford to be seen to be disregarding this particular decision of CHRAJ and “he does not intend to,” assures a senior member of Government. But, the question on the lips of many is this: should “such a good man” be politically sacrificed?
The Statesman has spoken to some leading members of the New Patriotic Party who are of the view that unfortunate as it is, Dr Anane should resign from Government and put up a good fight in court against the CHRAJ decision. See Editorial.
A report by The Statesman of Wednesday 19 - Thursday 20 April, 2006 sums up the dilemma the President appears to be in:
“Since moving to Transport from Health, [Richard Anane] has steadfastly and progressively delivered as a Minister, even focusing lately on enhancing the monitoring and evaluation aspects of his sector, as a crucial means to cut down on waste and corruption. “It has even been acknowledged that his singular performance as Minister for Roads was vital in driving the NPP to a second term victory in 2004. Dr Anane is delivering and delivering excellently on the main task assigned him as a Minster of State.” The Statesman stated poignantly at the time, “And, if politics were indeed issue-oriented, especially for a country desperate for development, Dr Anane's [ministerial] position would be the most secured, perhaps.”