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11.02.2009 Politics

Asaga's ex-gratia case lingers on…as Kwesi Pratt, others express opinions

By Charles Takyi-Boadu - Ghanaian Chronicle
Asaga's ex-gratia case lingers on…as Kwesi Pratt, others express opinions

The sudden decision by President John Evans Atta Mills to withdraw the nomination of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Talensi-Nabdam constituency, Hon. Moses Asaga to the position of Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing has sparked a heated debate across the length and breadth of the country.

This issue has generated a huge public outcry in which members of the general public and some social commentators have raised issues with the President's decision.

Whilst some believe that the constitution of the Republic guarantees the President the prerogative and discretionary powers to hire and fire any person at any point in time, others believe that he should not resort to the arbitrary use of the discretionary powers vested in him. Instead, they believe that he owes the good people of Ghana the responsibility to explain certain decisions that he has taken at certain times, to show the commitment of his pledge to run an open and transparent government.

Though no statement has been made by the office of the President to offer any explanation as to the circumstances surrounding the President's sudden decision to withdraw Mr. Asaga's nomination, it is widely speculated and believed that it might be due to the payment of the ex-gratia to former Presidents and MPs as contained in the recommendations of the controversial Chinnery-Hesse report.

Mr. Asaga is reported to have single-handedly authorised the payment of an amount of over US $20 million into the accounts of the beneficiaries without the consent and knowledge of either the President or his other colleagues on the three-member Transitional team on Finance, headed by Togbe Afede.

Others also believe his withdrawal had something to do with the battering of his wife sometime ago -an issue which raised questions over the credibility of Mr. Asaga as a 'Honourable' Member of the country's Parliament.

The Editors-in-Chief of the Daily Searchlight newspaper, Kenneth Agyei-Korankye and that of The Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr., have articulated divergent views on the issue in contention.

Speaking on Peace FM's Kokrokoo Morning show programme yesterday, the two individuals made their positions clear on the matter.

Whilst Ken admits that the constitution guarantees the President the liberty to fire and hire any individual or group of persons, he also stressed the need for him to stick to the promise he made to the teeming Ghanaian populace during his political campaign and at his swearing in ceremony to run an open and transparency.

By this promise, he noted that the President has a responsibility to give reasons why he decided to revoke the nomination of Mr. Asaga.

On his part, Mr. Pratt noted that the President owes nobody an explanation as to what might have informed his decision to withdraw the nomination of Mr. Asaga, since the constitution grants him the power to fire and hire at will.

That notwithstanding, he noted that it is incumbent on the President to remain committed to the promises he made to Ghanaians, which includes running an open and transparent government. In any case, he noted that there is nothing wrong with the President's action since it falls within the ambit of the law.

Other members of the public including callers to radio stations who are following the debate with keen attention also share similar concerns.

The public appears to be divided over the subject of whether or not indeed the President owes it a duty and responsibility to explain his actions and decisions to the public, considering his avowed commitment to run an open and transparent government.

Moses Asaga's nomination as Minister-designate for Water Resources, Works and Housing was withdrawn last week Friday by President Mills.

This was contained in a statement signed and issued by Presidential Spokesperson, Mahama Ayariga in which no reason(s) were assigned.