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10.02.2009 Feature Article

So Far, Not So Good, President Mills!!

Barely one month into the NDC government's tenure, there is cause to sound the alarm bells. Events that have happened over the past few days don't give me cause for celebration. If anything at all, they have rather left a very bitter taste in my mouth.

I will say upfront and aboveboard that President Mills is too “soft” for my liking and must wake up to the reality on the ground. We appreciate his desire to do things in a manner to reflect his “I-will-be-President-of-all-Ghanaians” slogan. But considering the serious lapses that have occurred in his administration so far, I think that it is not too early to take him on. And that's exactly what I will do.

Is he still alive to the huge burden that the NDC is carrying? Why should he not take prompt action to stamp his authority on affairs? Or is he aiming at only a first term in office and, therefore, creating unfavorable conditions for the NDC already? I shudder to think so. Government business is serious business that must be done with all the seriousness that it deserves.

Indeed, President Mills appears to be too reserved in the face of all the problems rearing their ugly heads all too soon. Some of these problems are administrative and others are purely a miscalculation in political terms. I will discuss those that concern the ESB and the uncomfortable situation that Moses Asaga has created and the list of nominees for Ministerial appointments with the view to suggesting that the situation so far doesn't appear to be encouraging under President Mills' watch. He should not give his party's political opponents an early opportunity to have a head-start advantage in reaching out to the electorate with the wrong messages.

But before then, let me point to the confusion that some unguarded utterances from so-called members of the Transitional Team have already created. While some of them shouted in early January 2009 that the Kufuor-led NPP government had dissipated funds to make Ghana broke, Dr. Dufuor, Minister of Finance-designate was saying a different thing. As a member of the Economic Committee of the Transitional Team, he countered such a claim to say that “Ghana is not broke.” Whose position should Ghanaians believe? Confusion n umber one!!

Then, several other instances of indecision, stumbling, fumbling, and bumbling have come to notice thereafter. The situation is not encouraging. So far, not so good, President Mills. You must be told the facts now so that you can redefine your strategies for handling matters. Ghanaians are enlightened enough to know what is happening.

Here are some of the areas that I want to concentrate on to suggest that President Mills appears to be either “confused” already or is so much bent on his “Asomdwehene” mantra as to allow some bad water to pass under the bridge. It is only a month!!

Moses Asaga
So far, the worst punch has been thrown by Moses Asaga whose indiscretion in authorizing the payment of the ESB to Kufuor and those MPs (former or current) has not only embarrassed the NDC government (and party) but also brought to the fore the issue of lack of control in the way President Mills' government is tackling matters. Knowing very well the intensity of public dissent and resentment against this ESB saga, anybody who truly loves the NDC would not do what Asaga has done. He has thrown the entire government machinery into a ridiculous trap.

The situation has been worsened by President Mills' own silence on the ESB matter. Ever since it emerged that there were improprieties surrounding the matter, he has chosen to keep quiet instead of making his position clear once-and-for-all to assuage all doubts, fears, and suspicions. Why does President Mills think that silence is a better measure? Unless he has anything to hide, I don't think that this cause is appropriate for him to take. He has gradually brought himself to the crossroads.

By directing that the payment of the ESB be suspended after some people have already benefited from it, he is setting himself and the system up for an unnecessary friction. There are rumours that the NPP Minority MPs are threatening not to cooperate with the NDC in the vetting of the nominees appearing before the Vetting Committee or to do anything else that would demand their input for the smooth running of affairs. The long and short of it is that they will set conditions: that unless they are paid their ESB (just as others have already profited), they will not be part of the Vetting Committee. The government will then be taken hostage and must pay this ransom if it wants to have its team of Ministers to support the Presidency. What a ridiculous situation in which to find oneself just a month into a four-year term of office?

I am not yet done with Asaga. Less than four years ago, this same Moses Asaga was in the news as having done “horrible” things to his wife and ended up dumping her at the Osu Cemetery. The matter attracted wide publicity and strenuous efforts were made by him to present the matter as a pure family problem that must be allowed to remain as such. He has already lost face and hasn't been able to claw back public respect, even though his constituents re-elected him into Parliament.

Such a person is morally not fit to hold the office into which President Mills was pushing him. In other systems, nobody will consider him for such a high office because of problems of credibility. No wonder he has swerved the Economic Committee of the Transitional Team to authorize the payment of the ESB. Now, President Mills is saying he can't trust such an appointee who would take decisions without consultation; hence his withdrawal as a Minister-designate! The withdrawal of his nomination hasn't come to me as anything worthy of attention at all. It is just a last-ditch faint-hearted attempt by President Mills to show that he is in control.

Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni
Alhaji Mumuni is another problem-man. I agree with the NPP Minority MPs serving on the Vetting Committee that his vetting should be put on hold until the determination of the court case concerning the financial irregularities at NVTI in which his name has been mentioned. If he has no case to answer, then, he would be deemed as clean enough to pass the screening. For now, the issue surrounding him is murky and nobody should attempt to browbeat anybody into giving him a clean slate. The case must be determined to its logical conclusion. After all, if he is found to be eligible for that Ministerial appointment, he could be appointed, then.

Again, Alhaji Mumuni has another skeleton in his cupboard, which he hasn't yet got rid of. And I have in mind the circumstances surrounding his accident in the pre-2004 elections, which caused much disaffection for the NDC. Rumors had it that he had sneaked out to visit his girlfriend and that the accident had more to it than we were being told at the time. So far, he hasn't cleared the air. Is this the person to represent the “Face of Ghana” to the outside world? I don't think so.

Again, his temporary role at the Ministry of the Interior in the first month of this NDC government is nothing to be proud of. Already, the official decisions and actions he caused to be taken in that capacity have been raised as a breach of the constitution. If President Mills felt that he would be good at that Ministry (for which he appointed him at the beginning, anyway), what has happened to cause this shift in designation or realignment? It is nothing but a dangerous indecision—or hasty decision—which I will not support. This man has already created unfavorable conditions for himself and must be dropped from the team!

The question is: What at all is there about Alhaji Mumuni that makes him indispensable? Why should President Mills shift him around as if he holds the key to the government's solutions box?

Ms. Sherry Ayitey
Hard working though one may describe Ms. Sherry Ayitey, I don't think that her public image in respect of the numerous court cases and appearances dispose her well toward any Ministerial position. Who in Ghana doesn't know that Ms. Ayitey was ever tried by Justice Amonoo-Morney in a case involving fraud but was acquitted and discharged for whatever the court might adduce as its reasons? Then, the long-drawn-out Carridem case and her appearances in court followed. In these instances, the cases involved fraud. Regardless of Kufuor's misplaced act of magnanimity in balking that trial, the image that her court appearances carved for her will be difficult to erase.

Such a person shouldn't have been considered for any Ministerial appointment in this time when the NDC has bounced back to power after being buffeted left and right at the bar of public opinion and demonized by the NPP. One would expect that President Mills would look for “fresh faces” to play the frontline role in his administration. If for nothing at all, such “fresh faces” could give the people something new instead of these recycled NDC “old faces” who have, by their public posture or utterances, rendered themselves a kind of anathema.

Was any serious initial vetting done by the NDC itself to determine the eligibility of these nominees? The screening going on at the Vetting Committee's sittings don't seem to paint any encouraging picture of these nominees. Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu has already been reported as saying that “I am hot!” Who needs to “hot” now?

I am being brazen enough at this point to tell President Mills that some of us are not happy with what has been happening so far and will advise him to do more than we have seen or heard so far. If, indeed, his government wants to create good conditions for the NDC's bright future, then, he has to do something drastic to restore confidence in his ability to lead the team to ensure that the campaign promises that the party made to the people are fulfilled. Ghanaians will not forgive the party if it flops!

So far, if the clouds hanging around his nominees don't disperse quickly to ensure that they get a clean bill of image, I foresee danger ahead. How can the NDC stand helpless before problems it had glibly identified in the opposition but is now mishandling to the very chagrin of its own followers? It is unacceptable. Unless anybody wants to tell me that the Mills-led government is aiming at only a term in office, I insist that the right thing should be done in these early stages to instill public confidence in the government.

The NPP's CEOs of District, Municipal, and Metropolitan Assemblies are still in office and there is nothing from official circles to clear the air. What is happening? Isn't it time for the NDC's own functionaries to be given the nod to help the government implement its policies and programmes?

I am concerned that if the wrong signals continue to emerge from government's handling of issues, it will dampen spirits and make the going really tough for President Mills. Some of us will be more than willing to criticize as often as will make him wake up to the reality as the one entrusted with the mandate to move Ghana forward.

Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D.
Michael J.K. Bokor, Ph.D., © 2009

This author has authored 1325 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MichaelJKBokor

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