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09.05.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Kudos Mr. President, But Don't Let It Be Another Circus!

By Ghanaian Chronicle

THE PRESIDENT, John Agyekum Kufuor, has at last not just bared his teeth, but barked hard at persons he has put in charge of public institutions, but who, through what they term their 'political clout,' have been bringing his name into disrepute.

The President's directive through his Energy Minister, that the Chairman and Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission, 'stepped aside,' a more palatable way of sending people on interdiction or suspension, by all indications, is one of the toughest decisions to be taken by him since he assumed office, considering the personalities involved, and their relationship with him.

It is encouraging however, that in this case, the affected persons were not asked to volunteer to 'step aside,' as happened in the case of the then embattled Volta River Authority (VRA) chief executive, but are being ordered to do so.

This singular decision by the president, it is our hope, would go a long way in driving home strongly to all persons placed in various positions of authority, and who believe they are 'untouchable' because of certain relationships they have with him.

The President's action seems to demonstrate that he is taking charge of his government, and the executive authority given him. We say kudos to him, and urge him on, as this is only one of many such actions he needs to take!

When deals involving Equity Funding Corporation of America, were exposed in 1973, the Business Week, April 14, 1973 issue had reported that, "In the wake of the Equity Funding scandal, many investors decided that independent auditors, state examiners and the SEC (Security and Exchange Corporation) are not reliable protection against fraud."

The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI's) collapse in the 1990s, the Worldcom and Enron scandals of recent times, coupled with the role of a giant accounting firm like Arthur Anderson, all enforce the need for vigilance over the activities of institutions and individuals, whose activities involve the management of public assets, especially cash!

In all, the above-cited cases, many decent people knew about the fraudulent deals involved, but did nothing because they never felt safe. Even in the famous Watergate scandal, James McCord, the man who exposed it by writing to a judge, said he would not have felt safe going to the Justice Department.

Such, we believe, is the state of many Ghanaians who know about how our dear country is being bled, through the actions and inactions of powerfully- placed public officials.

They do not feel safe to report to any appropriate institution, as the president in recent times has been urging the media to do, when allegations that border on corruption and abuse of office are made. Investor confidence is also affected.

The Chronicle believes the action taken by the President against the Energy Commission Chairman and the Executive Secretary would go a long way in sending the right signals to people who have knowledge of the various avenues through which leakages occur, to voice out and save this HIPC nation.

We caution however, that Ghanaians would not accept a situation where the findings of the Committee to be set up to investigate the activities at the Energy Commission, would be deodorized like happened in the Volta River Authority (VRA) case, that ended up turning the whole exercise into a circus!

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