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03.03.2006 General News

Gov’t forced former VRA Boss out

By Chronicle
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...contrary to claims that he resigned voluntarily Far from the initial impression created by government that the former Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Volta River Authority (VRA), Mr. Jabesh Amissah-Arthur, resigned on his own volition, investigations by The Chronicle has revealed that the former VRA boss was forced out.

Amissah-Arthur's tenure of office as Deputy Chief Executive was short-lived, like that of his immediate boss, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, whose resignation came under bizarre circumstance; they both had resisted resigning under incessant workers agitation.

The Chronicle can report authoritatively that the Deputy Chief Executive was not happy at the time of his resignation, since from all indications, he never opted to resign on his own free will but rather under pressure mounted by government.

The paper's investigations revealed that on October 3, 2003, in a letter written and signed by Jabesh Amissah-Arthur, he stated that on September 19 2003, he had delivered a letter to the then Minister of Energy, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, proposing to accept an amicable end to his over 23 years tenure with the Authority. He stated among other things that following discussions between him and the Energy Minister over the past few days, primarily to foster the restructuring of the VRA and the sector, he had accepted to resign.

This he did on terms that he stated, “Are not less favorable than those for redundancy, as stipulated in the senior staff conditions of service or the normal practice for retiring executives of the Authority.”

According to him, he understood that government was dissatisfied with the implementation by the Authority's engineering team of the 'distressed' Strategic Reserve Plant (SRP) project.

He stated that the team, tasked to implement the said project, was under overwhelming pressure to implement the SRP within a limited time frame.

He had noted therefore that in fairness to the team, the project should not be the basis for punishing any of its members. “It is understood that there is none and there will not be any accusation of wrongdoing or negligence after my separation,” he had stated.

Furthermore, Amissah-Arthur noted that his separation was not an admission of any such act of omission.

In the said letter, copied to the Minister, he noted that many friends and colleagues had asked him why he chose to suddenly resign from the VRA, but he further stressed that he felt he owed all of them an explanation for his decision.

He therefore indicated that on Wednesday September 17th 2003, the then Minister of Energy, Dr Nduom invited him to his office and informed him of an instruction from the President, that he the Minister, should request for his (Amissah's) resignation from the VRA.

He therefore could not but ask the basis for this weird request, since he believed he had not in the discharge of his duties, done anything to warrant the call to resign.

He said the Minister informed him that the call for his resignation was generally to do with the crisis at the VRA and the implementation of the SRP project, but also noted that Dr Nduom could however not provide any specific reasons or charges against him, since he noted, “He was not present at the discussions leading up to the decision.”

He added, “We therefore agreed that I would think about the request and give him a reaction later.”

After a short consultation with his immediate family, Jabesh Amissah-Arthur noted in the said letter, “It was first recognized that with the challenges faced by the authority at the time, the holders of executive positions would require the maximum cooperation of government in order to be able to perform creditably.”

Whatever the real reasons were, he said the request from the Minister for his exit, “was an unmistakable indication of less than maximum trust and confidence,” hence fighting to remain at VRA would mean holding a job without having the full trust, confidence and support of government.

He further stressed that he was considering a recent situation, where because of a similar request, a past CEO could not approach any government official for the assistance critically required by the authority.

On the basis of the above considerations, Jabesh decided that he preferred, even where the request was unjustified or yet to be justified, to end his employment honorably as requested by government, “rather than wage a personal fight to stay-on and be an ineffective executive, which could be damaging to my career.”

He therefore indicated that his resignation would give the Authority the chance to quickly move-on, confront, and hopefully, overcome the many institutional and financial challenges it faced through significant restructuring.

Even though he stated, “I leave with no hard feelings and hope you will understand the difficult choice that I have had to make,” it was obvious that he was peeved at having to take such an uncompromising decision.

It would be recalled that prior to his unpopular resignation, government made a public statement, which sought to suggest that Jabesh had opted to resign his position as the Deputy Chief Executive of the Authority on his own volition.

Meanwhile, information gathered by yours truly indicates that Mr. Amissah-Arthur is still squatting at the Authority's residence, allocated him when he was the substantive Deputy Chief Executive, and has continuously failed to vacate the facility years after separation from the Authority.

When contacted to know whether or not he resigned from the authority on his volition, Mr. Amissah-Arthur was not forthcoming; he would neither speak on issues relating to his resignation nor that of his continuous occupation of the VRA's property.

He however noted that since he had referred issues relating to the resignation and continuous occupancy of the Authority's residence to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), which is under consideration, he would refrain from making any comment.