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20.12.2004 Feature Article

Matters Arising out of Owusu Agyapong’s JoyFM Interview

Matters Arising out of Owusu Agyapong’s JoyFM Interview
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In his JoyFM radio interview on December 16, 2004, Mr. Owusu Agyapong, NPP leader of Parliament, raised questions about the competence of CHRAJ's investigations into the MP Car Loans, questioned whether Ghanaians in the Diaspora should engage in public discourse, lambasted those in Ghana who earn more than MPs, and questioned my motives for bringing the CHRAJ action in 2001. Mr. Owusu Agyapong's unflattering comments about CHRAJ, a body that simply did what it is asked to do under the constitution, is unfortunate indeed. This is especially so because CHRAJ's painstaking investigation was very accommodating of parliament's schedule. Further, although the CHRAJ report was released in April 2003, Mr. Owusu Agyapong has failed to formally comment on the report's contents, in spite of CHRAJ giving him, and all the respondents, 3 months to do so. If democracy is to prosper, and hopefully Mr. Agyapong sees wisdom in such prosperity, we must respect our institutions. Under article 218 of the constitution, CHRAJ is empowered to investigate complaints of corruption and abuse of power and to take appropriate action to call for the remedying, correction and reversal of such instances. We cannot have two systems, where CHRAJ's findings, as they pertain to the ordinary man, are enforced while findings, as they pertain to Mr. Owusu Agyapong are ignored, dismissed or otherwise treated with contempt. Mr. Owusu Agyapong's position as parliamentary leader does not confer on him any rights to treat CHRAJ's findings with contempt. Nor does his position endow him with any powers to decide which CHRAJ's findings must be enforced. Au contraire, Mr. Owusu Agyapong's oath, as an MP, compel him to “uphold, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana,” which means not undermining, not bastardizing or not otherwise undermining constitutional bodies. Mr. Owusu Agyapong, and others who think like him, should understand that their physical residence in Ghana does not confer supra-citizenship rights any more than physical absence from Ghana confers sub-citizenship rights. It is unfortunate that Mr. Owusu Agyapong, the NPP Parliamentary leader, will seek to drive a wedge between those in Ghana and those outside Ghana. Regardless of their physical residence, Ghanaians everywhere know that they are obliged to repay loans and call on him to simply pay off his Car Loans, rather than use his default as an occasion to preach factionalism.

Mr. Owusu Agyapong, in that radio interview, also declared that I, and others “comfortably located in the Diaspora,” probably contribute nothing to the economy. First, I need not remind the honorable minister that those in the Diaspora, whom he so readily treats with contempt, remit over $1B annually to the economy. Second, but even if we do not contribute to the economy, a most laughable premise, what has that got to do with the payment of Mr. Owusu Agyapong's car loan (should we contribute to the economy before he makes good on his promise to pay off his loan)? Third, how does taking $20,000 from the consolidated funds, disguised as a Car Loan, contribute to the economy?

Mr. Owusu Agyapong lambasted those in Ghana, earning more than MPs, who complain about MPs compensation package and the Car loan. In the words of Mr. Owusu Agyapong, he could be supervising many of these people if he had opted to work in their corporations. Further, most of these people were his classmates. What any of these has to do with repayment of Car loans escapes me but the honorable minister should understand that these Ghanaians have to pay their loans. Further, the fact that he could supervise these people, or were their classmates, does not entitle him to default on his loan or for that matter to be entitled to a loan write off. If Mr. Owusu Agyapong feels he could do better as a private citizen or working elsewhere, he should, by all means, feel free to explore those opportunities. Being an MP is voluntary and potential MPs are, or should be, fully cognizant of the terms of service.

Mr. Owusu Agyapong indicated in that radio interview that my petition was borne out of envy. I appeal to the MP and the honorable minister to abandon this infantile tactic and to elevate the level of public discourse.

When a citizen petitions CHRAJ, as he is constitutionally privileged to do, and CHRAJ makes findings, based on thorough investigations, this is not the occasion for a Parliamentary leader to engage in name calling or to speculate on the citizen's motive for petitioning. Rather, this is the time for a Parliamentary leader to study the CHRAJ findings carefully, to understand what went awry and to emplace measures to prevent the recurrence of the problems.

I also call on NPP, as a party, to clarify her stand on the matters raised herein. Is Owusu Agyapong's derision of CHRAJ and those in the Diaspora, a stand that is endorsed by the party? If Owusu Agyapong's stand is not endorsed by the party, the party needs to reflect on the implications of Owusu Agyapong being their parliamentary leader. In like vein, the NDC must also clarify her stand on CHRAJ and those in the Diaspora.

From afar, and one who should remain mute by Owusu Agyapong's Diaspora standards, I call on Owusu Agyapong to resign his position as the majority leader. If he fails to do so, the NPP should compel his resignation. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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