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03.02.2006 Press Review

EDITORIAL: Aliu takes presidency into the gutters

By Ghana Palaver
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Last Saturday saw a refreshing revisit of the "good old days" of Jerry Rawlings who used to join the people to descend into the gutters to clean up their habitats when Vice President Aliu Mahama also "descended into the gutters" and joined the ordinary people of Accra in a clean-up campaign to rid the city of filth and garbage. "Oh, that this would be a regular feature of the Kufuor Presidency rather than a once-in-five-years rarity that attracts attention", many participants in the clean-up exercise reminisced. The 'Chronicle' as usual had the right words to describe this unusual spectacle in its issue of Monday, Janua! ry 30, 2006: "The Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, on Saturday made a practical demonstration of his regular call for discipline and cleanliness when he descended into the gutters of Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie and several parts of central Accra notorious for unsanitary conditions, to scoop and clean." "But where is President Kufuor"? was the question on the lips of all the participants as the Vice President dug, shovelled, sweated and came out of the gutters stinking like the conservancy labourers on whose behalf lawyer Nana Adjei Ampofo has taken a human rights action in the Supreme Court in defence of their human dignity. 'Ghana Palaver' then recollected that President Kufuor has long insisted that he is not a "gutter-man" and that he will never descend into the gutters for clean-up exercises. In this, he was stoutly defended by his acolytes. In the run up t! o the 2000 elections, Foreign Minister Nana Akufo-Addo was asked on TV to comment on President Rawlings' hands-on style of getting into the gutters of Nima to desilt choked drains with the people. Nana Akufo-Addo's response was typical 'NPP-esque' – "President Kufuor will never descend into the gutters to desilt the drains. President Kufuor will pay people to descend into the gutters to desilt the drains." Then in the run-up to the 2004 elections, accosted with the same question, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital Asamoah- Boateng also responded, "Kufuor will not take the Presidency into the gutters". Aliu Mahama, as Vice President, is part of the Presidency, so what was he doing "taking the Presidency into the gutters" last Saturday? Who advised him or compelled him to descend into the gutters when the policy is that the NPP Presidency will never be taken into the gutters?