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General News of Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Source: Chronicle

Chief Challanges Minister Over "Public Money"

HE Chief Asafo Linguist of Effia, a suburb of Effia-Kwesimintsim, bordering Takoradi, Hon. Isaac Kwamena Otoo, has given the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency, Mr. Joe Baidoo Ansah, a month's ultimatum to come clean over the use of his share of his common fund, which he described as public money, since he assumed office as the legislator of the constituency in the year 2001.

He is also challenging the MP, who is also the Minister for Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiative, to desist from claiming executed projects of the Shama Ahanta East Metropolitan Assembly (SAEMA) as his projects. Mr. Otoo stated that these issues must at all costs be addressed by the MP, within a month else risk an appearance in court, for abuse of trust, and position.

Mr. Otoo, who was an assemblyman for Effia for four years, until 2006, warned that he was fully informed of projects executed by the SAEMA in the area, so he is expecting the legislator to tell the constituency what his achievements have been, and projects he has executed with the MPs common fund, in the last seven years.

"I will sue the MP in court, to force him to tell the constituency what he has done with his common fund, which is our public funds meant for our constituency," he charged.

Fuming with anger, Mr. Otoo, who stormed The Chronicle office in Takoradi to demand accounting from the MP, who he said had been faithfully taking votes from the constituency for granted, must this time stay clear away from them, but answer to them before he leaves office.

Effiakwesimintsim is one the NPP strongholds, he recounted, and the constituency has been taken for a ride for far too long.

He recalled that the area delivered 42,000 votes to Kufour and 36,000 for the MP, because he was imposed on the constituency, thus the significantly lower votes in 2004, where he was the sole candidate.

The NDC's candidate, Mr. Kwaku Christian, polled 14,000 votes.

'If we present him this time we can forget it, because we will lose the constituency. I challenge the BNI to come out and do a survey here, in all the 12 wards in the constituency, Baidoo-Ansah will lose heavily this time,' he roared.

He told The Chronicle that the performance of the MP was very poor, compared to other MPs like Mrs. Gladys Asmah and Paapa Owusu Ankomah, in the metropolis.

Mr. Kwamena Otoo, who is one of the original party men in the Effia Kwesimintsim constituency, noted that his ambition to go again for the third time, must take precedence over his duty as a sitting MP, who should have regular communion with his people, and his judicious application of his share of the MPs common fund for the benefit of the community.

The reason for the fund not being used, he reckoned was that he (the MP) would want to use the money to buy votes during the party's parliamentary primaries.

But if it is the plan of the MP, who campaigned for Mr. Alan Kyeremanten, in the recent NPP presidential race, to influence the polling station chairmen with cash, he would fail because the Effia-Kwesimintsim constituency was not for sale.

Mr. Otoo, who is a prominent figure in the community, told The Chronicle that as a former assembly member, who has worked with the assembly on a number of development projects, he was yet to see projects of the MP in Effia Zongo, Effiakuma Zongo, Anaji, Kwesimintsim, Asakae, Lagos Town and Tanokrom, as well as Cocoa Villa areas, yet they all voted for the MP, who faced no challenge during the 2004 elections.

Surprisingly, an initiative of his, (Otoo's) a school project in the Effia community, which could not be completed as a result of the shortage of funds, has been abandoned by the MP, when he was asked by the community to use his common fund to complete it.

He described Joe Baidoo Ansah's relationship with his constituents as very bad. "As an MP, I believe his intereaction with us is very bad. At least he should have been visiting the communities, within his constituency, to know and share with them their concerns, and how to address them, but we do not see him, not to talk of seeing what he has been using his common fund for," he argued.

The media in the Sekondi Takoradi metropolis was not spared from the bashing of Mr. Kwamena Otoo, as he accused them of not helping to expose weak MPs in the metropolis, particularly the Trade and Industry Minister, who visits the constituency when elections are close.

Reached by this reporter for his reaction, the Hon. Baidoo-Ansah rebuffed Otoo, saying that he could go to court, since he does not know what the role of an MP involves.

The Chief Executive Officer of SAEMA, Philip Kwesi Nkrumah, his mate at Ahantaman Secondary School, also refused to take calls from this reporter concerning Baidoo Ansah's common fund.

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