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12.02.2009 General News

Ama 'Chavez' chokes over cocaine... after intensive interrogation

By Stephen Odoi larbi & Emmanuel Kpeglah - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Minister designate for the Central Region, Madam Ama Benyiwa-Doe, was yesterday subjected to intensive interrogation by the Minority members serving on the Appointments Committee, for describing the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as a cocaine party in the heat of the electioneering campaign. Though she attempted to justify her pronouncement that a member of NPP was jailed for cocaine related offence, she back-tracked when she was pushed to the wall.

According to her, she was compelled to make those comments when former President Kufuor stated in public that the cocaine matter was a party matter.

When the Minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu asked her whether an offence committed by one person in a party could be linked to the remaining members of the party, she answered in the negative and pleaded with him to rest the case.

She admitted that it was a hasty generalization to incriminate a whole party, just because one or two of its members mis-conducted themselves.

The National Democratic Congress and the New Patriotic Party have had one or two of their members involved in cocaine scandals sometime back.

“Autie Ama, do you want me to ask you more questions”, the Minority leader asked her. “No, you have grilled me enough”, she responded.

She said one of the acute problems of the central region was poverty, and the area could be rated as one of the poorest regions in the country. She promised to liaise with other Ministries, especially the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to find the possibilities of reviving and establishing some industries in the region.

Mad Benyiwa-Doe said the high poverty level in the central region was as a result of the high illiteracy level and demanded that the Universities should consider quota system for the people from the region, where a percentage of vacancies is reserved for them on concessionary basis.

She lamented the persistent water problem that has beset the region for a long time, and said the past NDC government started some projects to solve the problem, which the immediate past NPP government also continued with, adding that she would step up from where the NPP had left off.

Asked whether she had been paid her End of Service Benefit as a member of parliament, she hesitantly admitted that she received it last month, under the controversial Chinnery Hesse recommendations.

She said her prime project, if given the nod, would be the Twifopraso-Dunkwa road, which according to her was in a very terrible state. She said her initial stay in office would be used in fact finding to familiarise herself with the people she would work with.

On the deserted Kasoa market, Mad Benyiwa-Doe said as soon as she assumes office, she would find out the reasons why the market has been abandoned, and find solutions to them.

She concluded her submission by saying that “I will be a mother for all people of the Central region.”

When it got to the turn of Mr. Nyamekye Marfo, the Minister designate for the Brong-Ahafo region, the first question thrown to him was about incidents regretted as a cadre of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR), for which he mentioned as the excesses of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

However, on the insistence of Hon. E.T Mensah that the PNDC came with both curses and blessings, and that it would be unfair to leave the matter one-sided, Mr. Nyamakye said it was during the PNDC era that his community was connected to the National electricity grid.

He said he would revive the once forested Brong Ahafo region by embarking on a very aggressive afforestation programme and rigorously enforce forestry laws.

He said excessive spending on funerals in the region would be dealt with through consultation with the chiefs, because to him, that was a cultural problem.

Mr. Nyamekye said the Poverty Alleviation Fund given to the local people could be useful to them.

He said he would embark on job creation by liaising with other Ministries and Agencies and also help with the construction of bore holes for the communities that were facing water problems.

The Ashanti Regional Minister Designate, Mr. Kofi Opoku Manu on his part described politics as an “unfortunate endeavour.”

Giving reasons for his definition, Mr. Manu said his people admired him when he was serving as a Civil Servant, but did not vote for him when he contested the parliamentary seat in the Ashanti Region on the ticket of the NDC.

Asked how he would unify the people since majority of them did not support his party, he said his advantage was that the whole of the region hold allegiance to the Asantehene and that he would work together with him, to solve the problems of the region.

He said the congestion in Suame Magazine area would be vigorously investigated and solutions found to it.

On the stadium disaster, he said the issue would be dealt with by prosecuting those who were found to be culpable.

When the Greater Accra Regional Minister designate, Nii Armah Ashitey appeared before the Appointments Committee, he looked calm and well composed to face the grilling exercise. He looked focused and ready to answer questions thrown at him by the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Doe Adjaho.

Outlining his vision for his potential portfolio, when given the nod, Hon. Nii Ashitey said he would collaborate with the District Chief Executives (DCEs) in the region to decongest the streets in the city, by removing hawkers and traders from the roads and pavement in order to make way for easy traffic flow. He said he would also help ease the cost in doing business in the city.

He earlier told these reporters that the hawkers and traders doing business on our various pavements and roads were a source of worry to him, and therefore, called for a collective effort in dealing with the situation.

“We need to take action to get the traders and hawkers off the streets. It behoves on all of us to move out the traders on our roads”, he noted.

He was particularly concerned about the filth that has engulfed the capital city and noted that when given the nod, he would work harmoniously with the DCEs and Assemblies in ensuring that sanitation standards were improved.

According to him, he would make sure that all polluters, such as hawkers and producers of sachet water among others, would be made to pay some amount to the Assemblies to help in the disposal of waste in the city.

On the issue of sourcing fund for the activities of the assemblies, he said he would bring to bear his experiences garnered when he was at the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA).

“The assemblies have a duty to collect money from businesses that operate in the city. Generating of funds is one area that we have to look at very seriously,” he noted.

To that effect, he said he would collaborate with all the relevant stake holders in the region to collect taxes from businesses that operate at night.

He said, he would do away with private tax collectors who work for the assemblies in order to save a lot of money, to which he said “a lot of monies go into the drains.”

He said he would instill discipline, coupled with humility and transparency in the discharge of his duties to ensure that all DCEs perform their duties well.