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11.03.2009 Politics

Mills boys jolly ride cost $12,000

By Daily Guide
Mills boys jolly ride cost $12,000

Agoo CEO, Kojo Bonsu popping champagne Kojo Bonsu, owner and publisher of Agoo magazine, has suddenly jumped into the controversial story of some leading members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) who embarked on a trip to Abidjan to witness the finals of the African Nations Championship  (CHAN) between Ghana and DR Congo.

Kojo Bonsu, known for popping champagne, explained the rationale for the trip, which he claimed cost $12,000, and was funded from his pocket and those of some friends.

Alex Segbefia, Deputy Chief of Staff at the Presidency, took pains to explain the reason for the large delegation, which returned to Accra with big bottles of champagne, after the Black Stars failed to lift the CHAN maiden trophy.

Segbefia was reluctant to name the alleged sponsor for the Abidjan trip, for which a Ghana Air Force jet was used, after denying that the State footed the bills.  

According to Bonsu, the man who popped champagne last January at the Kuuku Hill office of Prof Atta Mills when the Electoral Commission declared NDC winner of the presidential elections, he financed the trip and did not see the fuss being kicked about it.

A sports journalist on the flight said that although he did not see per diems being shared, he noticed bottles of champagne on the flight which would have been popped had the Black Stars won the match.

Alex Segebefia confirmed that 40 people made the trip aboard the Ghana Air Force plane including pressmen and sports experts to witness the game.

He played down on the large contingent of NDC members including Koku Anyidoho and Dr. Omane Boamah of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA).

He named Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, as being part of the entourage to Cote d'Ivoire.

Exposing himself as arrogant and above criticism, while visibly shaken by the story which exposed the inconsistencies in the new administration's policies, he described the news story as petty, wondering why the media were picking on the new administration. “It is strange that the media has suddenly found its voice,” he charged on Peace FM with a dint of arrogance in his voice.

Mr Segbefia and some leading members of the NDC including the respective ministers of Youth and Sports, and Agriculture, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak and Kwesi Ahwoi, had flown out in  a chartered flight last Sunday for the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, to witness the local Black Stars' final match against Congo.

Also on the jolly trip were three women, DAILY GUIDE sources hinted.

Other high-profile personalities on the ride were P.V. Obeng, Chairman of the dissolved Government Transition team; Koku Anyidoho, Communications Director at the Presidency; Dr. Omane Boamah, Deputy Minister-designate for Environment, Science and Technology; and Ade Coker, a former deputy Chairman of the Ghana Football Association, who earlier yesterday avoided being drawn into the Abidjan debacle.

Jones Abu Alhassan, a member of the GFA Executive Council and Kofi Manu, an Accra representative of Ashgold Football Club were also part of the delegation.

Kwasi Pratt, Field Commander of the CJA, was not charitable to his comrades in the NDC administration, lambasting them for the wasteful venture, and saying that it was a jolly ride.

Commenting on the issue, Pratt described it as frivolous and unnecessary, pointing out that the size of the delegation, made up of 40 NDC officials, was huge. Mr. Pratt asked: “Why 40 people? What benefit will it bring to this country?”

Buttressing his case, Mr. Pratt explained that a few executives from the Sports Ministry should have gone for the trip and not such a large number in a chartered flight.

He noted that Mr. Segbefia may be lying, that is why he could not reveal the sponsor on air, and added, “If it was really true that an individual sponsored it, then why didn't he tell us who he was, to be given the credit?”

DAILY GUIDE, in its yesterday's exclusive edition, reported that the Mills boys had jetted out with the aim of bringing the trophy to the country to play politics with it.

But this trip and its large entourage appeared to be at variance with President John Evans Atta Mills' pledge that his government would reduce its spending drastically this year in a bid to bridge the high fiscal deficit.

Even though allocations to MDAs were drastically cut down to save money for the state, allocations for the Presidency strangely increased to about 163 percent, fuelling speculations that the increase was for such trips.

President Mills' position on a slimmer economy, number of ministers, job for the boys, and government expenditure was painted as 'double-tongued' by the huge number of callers and texters into the 'Kokroko' programme on Peace FM which highlighted the issue, describing it  as a strain on the tax payers' pockets.

A Daily Guide Report