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10.02.2009 General News

Oh Betty!A little flutter, but Betty charms her way into history

By Stephen Odoi-Larbi & Emmanuel Kpeglah - Ghanaian Chronicle
Oh Betty!A little flutter, but Betty charms her way into history

It was a virtuoso performance by the first woman to ascend the office of Minister of Justice.

Oozing a charm offensive, Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu largely flirted with the members of Parliament (MPs), smiling for effect, taking compliments for her rich experience on law, 30 years, and then twitching uncomfortably with a visible drop in countenance, as she fielded an awkward campaign 'contextualised' speech question, which got the goat of Honourable Hackman Owusu Agyeman, and finally being waved off by Mr. Doe Adjaho, the Majority Leader.

Betty was advised to go to London, round up, and come and assume her position as Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

"In fact, I must say, if my colleagues may permit me, that I admire your courage and confidence. We want you to go and wind up your activities at the Commonwealth Secretariat," noted the Chairman of the Appointments Committee.

This followed her impressive performance, when she appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament for vetting.

Smile a minute. She confidently answered questions posed her by members of the Committee, to the admiration of the gathering seated in the Speakers Conference room, venue of the event.

Firmly brandishing her credentials, as an anti corruption crusader who gives no room for corruption, she strongly supported the law on causing financial loss to the state to stay.

According to her, the offence of causing financial loss to the state had not been properly defined under the criminal code, and called for its rectification.

"Personally, I do not think this is a law that should come off from our statute book. The law should remain.

If there are problems with the law, we need to look at it and resolve some of the issues," she noted.

Betty-Mould strongly condemned acts of organisations or individuals that threaten judges in the execution of their duties at the law courts, and called on the law enforcement agencies to take appropriate action against such organisations or individuals, if their activities flouted the laws of the land.

When bombarded with issues captured in the National Democratic Congress' (NDC) manifesto, that deals with the manipulation of the judiciary by the Executive, she stated that the Judiciary should be manifestly seen to be independent and above manipulation by the Executive.

According to her, there was a problem with the number of Supreme Court Judges that the country has, since there is no limit, saying, "it can lead to accusations of executive packing the Supreme Court.

"When you have a situation where there is no upper limit on the Supreme Court, and when you have a situation where the President picks the Justices of the Superior Court, these Justices might be seen to be reflective of the political ideologies of a particular party. That is what gives rise to uncertainties," she noted.

Betty believed that should there be a limit on the upper number of the Supreme Court Judges, some of the uncertainties would be removed, adding, "if there is an upper limit to the judges in panel, it would give some sort of certainty within the government."

Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu noted that her immediate advice to the presidency would be in the area of reviewing the activities of the Ministry of Justice, operationalising the Disability Act, enacting the Whistle Blower Act, among many more.

She was, however, delighted that people were expressing interest in the Alternative Dispute Resolution, which according to her, was one of her main planks, since it recognised the customary systems for arbitration.

When asked her view on separating the Attorney General's Department from the Ministry of Justice, confident Betty clamoured for its separation.

She argued that since the Minister of Justice was an appointee of the government of the day, it would be prudent to have an Attorney General's Department, whose activities would be independent and free from any government interference.

She said when given the nod, she would restore confidence in the nation's Attorney Generals, by improving upon their conditions of service, and give them incentives to carry on their job, since most of them, sometimes, abandon their job and seek for greener pastures elsewhere, simply because of low conditions of service.

On the part of Mr. Collins Dauda, Minister-designate for Lands and Natural Resources, when he appeared before the sitting for public hearing, the Chairman wondered how he (Collins Dauda) was going to preach family planning, looking at the number of children that he has (ten).

In a swift response, he noted he would be the best person to preach family planning, since the number of children he has, was already breaking his neck.

According to him, the spate within which the environment was depleting needed critical attention, and he would put in place effective civil-culture practices and laws that would reduce pressure on the nation's forest reserves, and the environment at large, since available records have shown that the country's forest cover has deteriorated from 8.2 million hectares from the last century, to 1.6 million hectares as of today.

He noted that he would discourage chainsaw operators, since they posed a threat to our forest reserve, and encourage the use of small scale mobile mills, since it maximised yields.

"Chain saw operation is identified as one of the causes of forest depletion in this country. Indeed, it is said to be a menace in the sector," he noted.

He, however, said when given the nod, he would channel chainsaw operations to that of a productive venture, since the law of the country does not ban such practices.

On the issue of charcoal production, which is also a threat on the environment since operators have always turned on the environment for survival, Mr. Dauda noted that he would find means of providing them with raw materials, and link them up with some TUC holders so that access to raw materials becomes very easy for them.

On expansion of communities found in the forest reserves, he noted that when the communities expand, in terms of population, it would be prudent to allocate some portion in the forest reserve for them to feed on, since they cannot be ignored and starve to death.

When quizzed on what he would do on the activities of mining operations, since they also contribute in depleting the environment, Mr. Dauda admitted that mining in the forest reserve had always be a controversial issue, but he would be guided by policy in evaluating their operations.

He, however, noted to allow deep cast mining to help save the environment from further depletion.

Mr. Collins Dauda added that one of his main priorities, if given the nod, would be to delve deep into the operations of the Ghana Consolidated Diamonds (GCD), to breathe life into it, since it creates a lot of employment for the jobless.

On how he would turn the Savannah land into Sahel lands, Mr. Dauda noted that he would encourage more wood plantations in the area, especially, mango production, as a way of re-greening and providing food for the people in the north.

When Mr. Joe Gidisu, Minister-designate for Roads and Highways appeared before the Appointments Committee, he noted that he would consider setting up a maintenance unit to repair the various roads in our localities.

According to him, the Mobile Maintenance Unit of the Roads and Highways would be brought back to life to be more responsive, since its non-functioning was causing a lot of problems for the sector.

He sounded a word of warning to contractors who do shoddy work on our roads, that they revise their notes, since they would be blacklisted in the books of the ministry, for non-performance.

He said his outfit would sanction any contractor who flouted his obligations in executing a contract awarded him or her.

He noted that when given the nod, together with other stakeholders in the sector, he would consider reviewing road and bridge tolls, to generate more funds for the nation, for developmental projects.