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General News of Wednesday, 30 July 2003

Source: The Independent

EDITORIAL: Prez Kufuor and the VRA Saga

Over the last three months, Ghanaians were exposed to a situation at the Volta River Authority (VRA) that was no doubt, very distasteful and unfortunate.

During those trying moments, one of the flahes our intelligence-gathering unit obtained was that certain personalities wanted to get even with VRA Chief Executive, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, for reasons which, we have always maintained were unfounded.

It was clear that many of those who were involved wanted President J.A. Kufuor to just kick Dr. Wereko-Brobby out of office.

On the contrary, and as captured in the Auditor General's Audit Report, President Kufuor rather asked the Auditor General to investigate the allegations and report to him for the necessary action. Since July 11, the Auditor General has completed his report and submitted it to President Kufuor.

The Independent takes this opportunity to salute President J.A. Kufuor for the suave and able manner he has handled the situation.

President Kufuor has showed that he is not one who will be stampeded into taking any action. In fact, we have known this about him (even when he was in opposition) but the latest display of 'grace under pressure' has set him out as one whose judgment on issues can never be questioned. President Kufuor has shown through the VRA situation that leadership is not about barking and pandering to the whims and dictates of a so-called majority all that time.

It is common knowledge now that all manner of persons joined the fray at VRA from various angles for reasons, which we can easily fathom.

For some persons in the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr. Wereko-Brobby was part of their party's Achilles' heel when they were in government and thus some of such persons thought the best way to show Dr. Wereko-Brobby where power lay was to stir up a lot of dust for Dr. Wereko-Brobby to be removed - something their Founder would never have done when he was President.

Within the national security apparatus, some overzealous and misguided elements also had a field day churning out all kinds of infantile reports for the President's consumption.

Then within Government itself, some persons also wanted to settle scores with Dr. Wereko-Brobby for reasons that are not far fetched- he had insisted on resorting to tender when some of such persons had approached him to be awarded contracts without tender.

In the false euphoria that followed when Dr. Wereko-Brobby decided to step aside for an investigation and audit into his activities, our offices were inundated with a lot of views of ordinary Ghanaians but the one that made the most significant impact was made by a female caller who said "if Kufuor does not take care, his administration will be stripped of all the good material he has."

Of course, the caller was quick to add that President Kufuor should not hesitate to sack and even prosecute any of his appointees who are found to have engaged in acts contrary to his declared preference for a zero tolerance for corruption.

Similar calls have been made since the release of the Auditor General's Report, which cleared Dr. Wereko-Brobby of any wrongdoing.

The Independent urges President Kufuor to remain firm and resolute in his quest to rid the Ghanaian politic of corruption and abuse of process as has been witnessed in certain public enterprises.

We wish to bring to the attention of President Kufuor and the good people of this country that too often we have sacrificed very good material on the altar of political expediency and other untenable grounds. Such shortsighted actions have contributed to our development status now.

The time to depart from this 'standard' of doing things is now and the VRA situation represents for us, a determination on the part of President Kufuor to introduce a new way of doing things in this country in the interest of the people and in furtherance of the rule of law.

The Independent supports the position of President Kufuor on the VRA situation and urge that he uses the same standard for all his appointees and other public servants in sensitive positions who may incur the 'wrath' of any section of labour for attempting to do the right thing.

There are indeed many of our compatriots who lost their jobs under very bizarre circumstances during our revolutionary past- for which, the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) is working at great expense to the state to heal the wounds and we have no business resorting to such methods to soil our national fabric again only to turn round to correct it in future.

The revolutionary attitude that a section of VRA workers adopted should not be encouraged; particularly when all the allegations and charges they levelled have fallen flat on all fours.

We are particularly concerned where some sections of the VRA staff wanted to play judge and jury at the same time with the rather unacceptable view on their position, irrespective of the outcome of the audit.

We have cause to believe that at the time that particular group of VRA workers made the assertion that they will never shift their position even if their CEO was cleared, they knew that the allegations against him were baseless.

Ghanaians and President Kufuor should consider the cost implications of such a posture by those VRA staff and debate whether the Ghana we are all struggling to develop can contend with such 'conditionalities' apart from those of the Bretton Woods institutions.

Certainly not! And that is the reason why we applaud President Kufuor on his stance on the VRA situation.

Let us get on with the business of husbanding our scarce resources with the right men and women in charge of the Government agencies, lest we regret our failure to do so in the future when others have long passed us on the development ladder.

Like many Ghanaians, we have wondered where our sense of truth is, since the Auditor General's Report on Dr. Wereko-Brobby was released. Some of us have shown utter disregard for truth just because it has not ended in our favour, but one constant is that truth stands and no one can submerge it for their parochial interest, particularly, when it extends to the well-being of Ghanaians.