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General News of Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Presidential staffer saga: Baako lashes out at hypocritical, inconsistent NDC and NPP

Editor-in-chief of the New Crusading Guide Newspaper has described as hypocritical and inconsistent the attitude of previous and current administration to the issue of presidential staff.

Kweku Baako believes both divides have deliberately, over the years sought to confuse the public by defending theirs when in government only to turn around to question their opponents when they are out of government.

“Before 2014 we had gone through the same cycle before where the actors changed dependent on who’s in government and who is not.”

Citing the Hansard of 14 November 2003, the veteran journalist said then president, John Agyekum Kufuor was vilified by the then opposition, only for things to turn around when the NPP lost power.

“The same thing happened with the NPP side in Parliament trying to clarify and so you ask yourself why in 2014 despite the clarification, they did not pursue the same line in terms of consistency.

“That is what we have done with this presidential office staff matter. From day one, so in 2018 we are discussing some of the issues the same way. Is it ignorance? Is it mischief or a combination of both?” Kweku Baako asked on Peace FM's Kokrookoo while discussing the controversial presidential staffers' list submitted to Parliament.

A list of 998 employees at the Presidency submitted to Parliament last week has caused a public outrage.

The list includes nine Ministers of State, 27 presidential staffers, 256 other/junior appointees and 706 employees of the public/civil service staff.

After being sternly criticised by the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the general public, the government launched a defense.

Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid said although the number was lesser as compared to the Mahama-led administration, the current government is operating with a budget lesser than what the previous administration had.

Cowards of Equalization

In the heat of controversy critics, especially, members of the NDC have been quick to play back comments members of the NPP made on the same presidential list issue when they were in opposition in 2014.

He found it surprising that persons who accused him of being a champion of equalisation, a slave to the past, any time he did any historical recollection are now the same persons happy referring to the past to back their arguments.

He described such persons as "cowards" who are afraid of defending their past but, are happy referring to the past when it suits them.

“Their defense mechanism is to shout equalisation. They themselves indulge in that thing they call equalisation when it suits them, every time,” he said on Peace FM’s Morning Show ‘Kokroko’.

This posture in his view is a deliberate policy adopted by administration after administration to “try and stop people who want to expose them for their hypocrisy and double standards.”

According to Mr Baako both the Mahama-led administration and the current one led by Akufo-Addo have violated the laws requiring that they submit a list of employees at the presidency within three months of the end of every financial year.

He said the Mahama administration failed to submit the list to Parliament in 2015. Current president Akufo-Addo also failed to do same in 2016.

“This is not something you can ignore, it is a violation of the act,” he said.

140 Ghost names?

At a time when some critics are accusing the government of leaving out some names of presidential staffers in the list it submitted to Parliament, Kwaku Baako has disclosed that some 140 names were missing from the 2015 list to Parliament although documents available at the Accountant General’s Department show that they were taking salaries.

“Official record shows that all those 140 people were all working at the then Flagstaff House but their names were not part of the list that was sent to Parliament in 2014”

For Mr Baako the issue needs to be discussed dispassionately and both parties should be prepared to address it without apportioning blame.

“There is enough record to show that both sides across the divide took a stand that was inconsistent with what they had taken earlier.”

Hypocrisy

A former Local Goverment minister Samuel Ofosu Ampofo who was also on the show berated the president for appointing such a high number of appointees to the presidency.

He said governance must come with some principles and consistency suggesting that a president who promised to protect the public purse cannot be seen to be appointing this huge number.

He said despite the huge number of appointees, the NPP has nothing to show for in its two year tenure, except to commission projects embarked on by ex-president John Mahama.