The Organisational ability and the relevance of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA), under the leadership of Kwesi Pratt, suffered a humiliating setback yesterday as he woefully failed to inspire Ghanaians to come out in their numbers for a planned demonstration.
Pratt's CJA had announced a massive demonstration on the streets of Accra against the recommendations of the Chinery Hesse Committee on emoluments and retirement benefits for ex-Presidents and some categories of public servants.
However, participation in the demonstration was so poor that but for the massive presence of the well-dressed police men and women who were on guard duties, nobody would have noticed the existence of the politically-contrived group on the streets of Accra.
The police out-numbered the protesters and one could easily count them carrying placards some of which read 'Kufuor wants to chop Nyafu, Nyafu', 'Kufuor is Greedy', 'The Abaa for Rawlings, the same for Kufuor', 'J.A. Kufuor wants everything, Aba!' 'NPP Give back the Ga Lands', and 'President Mills make Ghana corruption free'.
Patently absent were some leading members of the CJA and bigwigs of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) including Madam Ama Benyiwa-Doe, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo and Nii Lante- Vanderpuye who were reportedly lobbying for positions in government or thinking of how to sail through parliamentary vetting.
After moving through some streets of the capital, the members of the CJA converged on the Christiansburg Castle Junction where some leaders of the group including Dr. Omane Boamah, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Felix Kwakye and Prince Derrick Boateng presented a petition to the Chief of Staff, John Henry Martey Newman at the Castle.
The Commander-in-Chief of the CJA, Kwesi Pratt was left at the Castle junction to take care of his troops whilst his colleagues were at the Presidency presenting their paper titled, “Petition for a review of the Chinery-Hesse Committee Report on Facilities and Privileges for Article 71 Office Holders”.
Issued by Kwesi Pratt on behalf of the CJA, the petition read, “We the members of the CJA are deeply concerned that in the face of the poor state of the national economy and the high levels of poverty among the vast majority of the people of this country, the Chinery Hesse Committee, set up by ex-President J.A. Kufuor, recommended such high levels emoluments and retirement benefits for some categories of public office holders. We are particularly horrified by the privileges recommended for ex-President Kufuor as retirement benefits, in addition to the already generous benefits provided in the 1992 Constitution”.
The petition, addressed to President John Evans Atta Mills, added that one may appreciate that these payments to only a few people will cost the nation several trillions of cedis at a time when resources are needed to cater for the needs of the people, such as good healthcare, education, jobs, and potable water.
“We of the CJA believe that public service must not become a self-serving exercise designed to further the needs of the elite. On the contrary, public office holders must serve the interests and meet the aspirations of the people, including those of the poor,” the petition noted.
It called on the President to “show consideration for the plight of the poor people of Ghana by refraining from over-burdening them with excessive payments for the personal comforts of a few people.
The petition asked the President not to implement the Chinery Hesse Report but set up a new committee to review the Report with a view to recommending reasonable retirement benefits for public officials, including both ex-Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor.
Furthermore, President Mills should submit the approved report to Parliament for consideration and institute a broad framework for pay and benefits for public officers in the long term.
“We sincerely hope that you will give consideration to our petition as demonstration of your commitment to principles of equity and prudence in the allocation of public resources,” CJA requested.
The Chief of Staff, after receiving the petition on behalf of President Mills, promised that the Head of State will consider it within the limits of the constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.
By Awudu Mahama