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28.02.2005 Feature Article

The Lamentations of Kufuor

By Palaver
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FOR once, if President J. A. Kufuor, had had a whip in hand, the swearing-in ceremony of three of his Ministers, last week, could have been turned into a caning session.

Of course, that could have been a justifiable reaction by a President, who according to himself, had spent some days in agony, over the way his own Ministerial nominees, were "faring" badly at the Parliamentary Vetting Committee.

The three Ministers, Dr Richard Anane, Roads and Transport, Sheikh I. C. Quaye, Greater Accra and Mr Isaac Edumadze, Central Region.

A fourth Minister, Ms Christine Churcher, for Environment and science, might even have felt unduly embarrassed as the President virtually scolded her colleagues, two of whom - "Down-Trodden" Sheikh Quaye and Mr Edumadze - were attired in white, as if they had made some spectacular impressions at the Vetting Committee.

Without hiding his disapproval for the 'revelations' about the 'Gang of Three', the President for instance, minced no words, in condemning the claim of false qualifications, an obvious reference to I. C. Quaye's Cambridge Certificate, which he claims he had obtained in 1958, at a time no one was taking that examination in Ghana.

The President conceded that although he could have withdrawn the nominations, he couldn't do so, "since Parliament has deemed it fit to pass you".

But, this is where the puzzle begins.

Was the President waiting for Parliament to reject the nominees before withdrawing them? Or is it the case that once the vetting of a nominee begins, he must remain 'untouched', until the exercise is over? No. The President can withdraw a nominee if he wishes to do so, at any stage of the vetting.

In any case, it would be surprising, if the smiles on the faces of the three, as they were blasted, were genuine ones. For they must be real characters, for them to have enjoyed the session, as the President sounded a note of warning to them to put up a proper behaviour and lead decent lives or face the consequence.

To us, it is this kind of tolerance for wrong-doings, which has made the promise of "Zero Tolerance for Corruption", a forgotten slogan.

We find it rather strange that the President could spare the rod on nominees, who lie on oath just as a matter of political expediency and hide behind Parliament, which voted purely on party lines, obviously acting on an advice from the Castle.

If the President chooses to work with persons, with questionable character and background, so be it.

For although, ultimately, it is the nation which suffers, under any kind of bad governance, it is President Kufuor, who will take a bigger portion of the blame, if his Ministers either misbehave in public or break the laws of the land, including that of perjury.

Indeed, a very dangerous precedence has been set at the Vetting Committee, where the law has been "trodden" upon, with impunity, like unworkable rules in a "mad house".

After the huge lies, freely told at the committee, will the courts have any moral right to pull any one for perjury, when one makes "a slip of the tongue" in a trial?

Meanwhile, the President has released a battalion of nominees, for Deputy Ministerial posts.

However, we don't expect the President to go through another bout of agonising moments, since members of the committee, will find it a waste of time, probing the backgrounds of the nominees.

The rule now is once nominated, one must pass the test!

Palaver
Palaver, © 2005

The author has 6 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: Palaver

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