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Feature Article of Saturday, 16 July 2005

Columnist: Appiah-Danquah, Kufuor

The Saga of Saoud?s ex building

All of us have a role to play - we can continue to denigrate President Kufuor and Ghana to the outside world and bring the whole house down or we can promote and sell our country as a model for Africa. The choice is ours

I have kept my big mouth shut over the whole issue of the building next to the President?s house as I felt the President had categorically stated that he has not bought any building and Chief had come out with a statement that he purchased the hotel with a loan from Prudential Bank

As far as I was concerned it was not my business how Prudential Bank doles out its cash. However, the issue like the creeping sea of England seems to break the sand bags and gets closer to home.

British Press

Last week I had more than 50 phone calls from friends, colleagues and genuine Ghanaians on the immense collateral damage that this episode was having on the image of our country. Ordinary British people who had supported the cause of Africa and worked like hell to get our debts cancelled were confronted with headlines in some of their newspapers, which brought shame to all Ghanaians.

Extracts from British Newspapers

Manchester Metro 27th July, the Sun 11th July and other British Press carried the story of Corruption in Africa. There were no surprises on the usual suspects but to see the name of our President featured alongside notorious crooks, dictators, criminals, deviants, psychopaths like Mobutu brought tears to my eyes. Although it was in the context of this lousy ?Saoud building? it was extremely difficult to take in.

I have re-assured colleagues at the African Desk in the European Commission, work colleagues, church members who were at Scotland bating for us, friends and other concerned Ghanaians that our country is a beacon of democracy in Africa and the reporting of the ?alleged sale of the building was inaccurate and factually incorrect.

Complaint to Press Commission

I have complained to the Press Commission in the UK under their code of inaccurate reporting and written a rejoinder to the Manchester Metro and other newspapers to set the records straight.

I am waiting for the Press Commission response and will publish the commission findings on the newspapers in Ghana, British newspapers, Ghana web and other magazines. I believe in the fairness of the British system and do believe that once the editors have the full facts they will come to a different conclusion .

Substantive Issue of Saoud?s Building

Yes, there is an ongoing issue with a building next to the house of the President.

Yes, the Minority wants an inquiry on that issue

Yes, the Minority and others have done a good job in muddling the issues and placing doubts in the minds of ordinary Ghanaians and making our name dirt in the eyes of the British Public.

Let me state the facts, as we all know it

Fact 1 Chief and Ama are the biological children of the President and also the majority shareholders of the building.

Fact 2 Chief did put forward a proposal to Prudential Bank, which secured the loan

Fact 3 That Spanish woman was a friend of the family and wanted to help Chief secure the building at a low price.

Fact 4 That Spanish woman was around when Chief met Saoud to discuss the purchase of the building as she was helping Chief to get a better deal

Fact 5 Any good child would discuss his plans with his Father ?not unusual-if he has a good father to seek advice and guidance on such a big investment.

Fact 6 The President has issued a statement saying that he has not bought a hotel and that has not been contradicted by the banks.

Fact 7 The shareholders of the banks are the key to the issue ? they have every right to question the merits/demerits of the transaction

Any other interprtation that one wants to put on the issue they can but the facts are as stated.

Independent Probe by Minority

What would be the Terms of reference?

Main Characters

Charles Sam

The minority leader has stated the saga began with the press conference of Charles Sam. For the records Charles Sam is not a spokesperson for the President or Chief. I am not sure on whose authority he spoke.

2 That Spanish Woman

As far as I am concerned President Kufuor could have had discussed buying the Hilton, Plaza, Mayfair and Dorchester with her ? so what? The President could have asked for help in buying the hotels when he is out of power with her and securing her economic advice ? so what? When did it become a crime to dream?

She was a friend of the family and the President therefore she was privy to most discussions in the household. No one is denying that she was not a friend of the family.

Her Appointment

What processes led to her official appointment as Economic Adviser to the President ? This is a non-question as the President has the constitutional right to appoint anyone with distinction as her economic adviser- in this instance the whole Party hierarchy is regretting ever setting eyes on her- it is like a bad dream.

Prudential Bank

What are the full facts of the Prudential Bank involvement? Was the Board of the Bank properly advised and consulted on the transaction?

Is this a question for Parliament? When did Parliament become an arbiter for private commercial banks loan disbursement? This is a legitimate question for the Banks shareholders and has got sod all to do with Parliament.

P/NDC

Let us get one thing straight ? I am not sure where Jerry Rawlings, ET Mensah, PV Obeng, Dan Abodokapi, Adjei Boadi, General Quainoo, Ahwoi brothers, and a lot more P/NDC guys on public wages managed to secure loans to build their houses? I am not privy to the decision making process of the banks that provided them with the loans.

What I know and what is public record is most of the P/NDC guys ere penniless when they took the back door route to power Guys who had never build a shed but managed to build mansions when they usurped the democratic mandate of the country have no right to talk.

Would they come out and explain to the country how they managed with their public service wages to build all these mansions. I know a lot of civil servants who are still renting homes.

Guys who were downright crooks have no right to tarnish the image of our country. Guys who cannot account for state funds have no right to criticize and bring the name of our country into tatters.

2 Big Examples of outright Theft by P/NDC

Nsawam Cannery- Divestiture

On what grounds did the Divestiture committee under Agbodo hand over a state owned asset to the 31st December movement? What collateral Oh by the way did Agbodo knew that Nana Konadu was the wife of Jerry Rawlings?

Government Funds Ashanti Goldfields

Would the NDC give a full account of the approximately $400m that our Government received as sales of our shares in the Ashanti Goldfields? What account was it placed in? How was the money disbursed? We need a forensic examination of how that cash was used. .

Possible outcomes- Probe or no Probe

q Chief and Ama could decide they need too much cash to complete the building therefore they will sell it and make a tidy profit- good business proposition

q Second, Chief and Ama could seek partners from UK/US to join the consortium ? inject new and extra cash

q Third, Chief and Ama could seek local partners and offload the deal on to them

Whatever Chief and Ama decide to do they will have the full support of the immediate and extended Kufuor family. It was Chief?s idea in the first place and it is our duty to support him. There are Banks and individuals in Europe who will join in partnership to develop a going concern in Ghana.

The President is not vindictive neither is he petty; the saga of this building will end one way or the other. The fact that he has a smart son is not his fault.

Conclusion

Yes the President has his faults. Yes some members of the NPP have been accused of corrupt practices; Yes his son entered into a deal that has created tensions; Yes as a President he has taken bold decisions that has not gone down well with all the people.

However, his critics would admit that under President Kufuor Ghana is a beacon of free speech, an independent judiciary, a thriving private sector, a highly respected press corps free to undertake investigative journalism without fear or favor, a country widely regarded by the outside world and cited as an example of good governance, transparency and accountability.

Ghana under President Kufuor did not deserve to be featured alongside Mobutu or Imelda Marcos. Our country is in a different league and our leaders both opposition and ruling party are models of decorum, decency and tolerance.

All of us have a role to play - we can continue to denigrate President Kufuor and Ghana to the outside world and bring the whole house down or we can promote and sell our country as a model for Africa. The choice is ours

God Bless



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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