19.03.2008 Politics

Tony Aidoo, Agyekum Trade Punches

19.03.2008 LISTEN
By Daily Guide

DR. TONY Aidoo, a leading member of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Hon. Frank Agyekum, Deputy Minister of Information last Friday caused a stir when they fiercely engaged each other in what could be described as 'war of words'.

The two personalities shocked radio listeners in Kumasi when instead of contributing to a discussion on a sensitive national issue, they rather chose to cast insults and insinuations at each other.

The two gentlemen had been called via phone on Angel FM's evening political programme dubbed 'The Platform', hosted by Kwadwo Marfo, to share their views on the alleged government's plan to purchase a presidential jet.

It all started when Dr. Aidoo, who was the first to get on the line, descended heavily on the NPP government, accusing it of purchasing Falcon Aircraft without the consent of Parliament.

Buttressing his claim, Dr. Aidoo alleged that “a signature fee of $1, 867, 500 million, representing 5 percent of the contract sum, was paid at the point of signing the contract.

“A further 10 percent is to be paid within nine months for the company to begin the construction of the aircraft. The actual purchase price of the contract is $37, 150, 000 million and with interest, the total payment shoots up to $43, 278, 900 million.

“The contract is headed 'Falcon 900 EX Sales Contract', with reference number 900 EX-07-08-12DA.

“The contract was signed on behalf of the Republic of Ghana as buyer by Dr. Akoto Osei and counter-signed by the seller, Daxell Aviation SA; the date of signing the contract was 13-2-2008.

“So all intents and purposes show clearly that the government has purchased the Falcon Aircraft; it has committed itself with a signature fee already paid. This has all been done without the permission of Parliament.”

Asked by the host of the programme whether the alleged government action was a violation of powers, Dr. Aidoo noted that “it is up to Parliament to determine whether the government can commit the nation into indebtedness before briefing the august House”.

At this juncture, Kwadwo Marfo called Hon. Agyekum, also on phone, to react to the allegations being leveled against government by Dr. Aidoo.

Mr. Agyekum was quick to debunk the allegations, stating that government was not hiding anything from the public with regard to the purchase of the presidential jet.

He added that no amount of money had been paid to anybody so far as he was concerned.

“I do not know whether government has paid any amount of money to the manufacturers of the aircraft; all I know is we have a company we have sealed a deal with to manufacture the aircraft.

“The aircraft will be ready in two years' time from now and government is not hiding anything from the public domain.”

Mr. Agyekum noted that government would inform Parliament about its intentions and reasons to buy the aircraft soon.

Hon. Agyekum could hardly finish his comments when Dr. Aidoo chipped in that the laws of the country unequivocally debar the government from committing the nation to any international debt without first seeking the approval of Parliament.

He contended that “the NPP government has taken that untoward action because they know they have majority in Parliament to bulldoze their way through”.

At this stage, Kwadwo Marfo asked the Deputy Information Minister to disclose the actual cost of the aircraft, and as the Minister started to speak, Dr. Aidoo without provocation interfered with a comment in the background. Mr. Agyekum, in reaction, asked what the problem was with Dr. Aidoo. “What is your problem, Dr. Aidoo?” he queried.

This question infuriated Dr. Aidoo, who reacted angrily, saying, “you have the problem; I do not have a problem. You have lied to the country for far too long; you lie too much. Ghanaians are fed up with your lies and deceptive government”.

Mr. Agyekum also responded harshly thus: “You are the greatest liar in the country. You NDC people, who lie more than you?” he asked.

Dr. Aidoo then chipped in this teasingly: “The only credential for you to hold to your job is to lie, shut up.” In a quick reaction, Hon. Agyekum said: “Shut up too”.

Dr. Aidoo, who was bubbling with anger, could hardly be controlled by the host as he continued firing on all cylinders, and eventually changed into the Twi local dialect, though with some difficulties: “kohwi fuo, gyae wa sem, ada a aaponkyiranii be wu no na ye behunu ne tintin, akoronfuo,” literally meaning, “deviant characters, we will see the full length of a frog on the day that it will die; thieves!”

In sharp reaction to that insult, Hon. Agyekum humorously said: “You are thieves. What you know doing best is to insult people; who steal more than you?” he asked amidst laughter, perhaps to get Dr. Aidoo angrier.

The Deputy Information Minister, who was now fired up, also started firing his bullets from all angles: “You Dr. Aidoo has the audacity to accuse someone as thieves and liars after what the PNDC/NDC has done in 20 years?

“You should be ashamed for making those statements; you should use your mouth to wipe the ground. Did we hear about the Gulf Stream Again?”

“It is because of the good governance and the respect for human rights that the NPP government had brought that is why you are on radio insulting us; was this the order of the day when you were in power?” he asked, adding, “If it was in your era, you would have called for my arrest for arguing with you.

“Whether you like it or not it is an undeniable fact that the NPP administration is thousand times better than your PNDC/NDC era. You must be ashamed of yourselves; thieves!”

At this moment, matters were getting out of hand, so Kwadwo Marfo quickly jumped in to cool off tempers and later apologized to listeners of the programme, considered as the hottest political talk show in the Garden City, for the inconvenience that the utterances of the two gentlemen might have caused them.

From Fred J.A. Ibrahim Jnr., Kumasi