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Opinions of Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

Problems with Mr. Bansah’s letter

The letter written by Dr Eric Yeboah, Secretary of the Ghana Beyond Aid (GBA) Committee to Richmond Bansah, the alleged designer of the cover pages of their Charter and Strategy Document, has reached the public domain.

The letter reveals a lot about how this nation is being governed.

It was problematic to hear in the news that a letter had been written to Richmond Bansah – in person – to respond to queries and apologise. But discovering the letter itself has been even more shocking.

If the purported letter is fake, we have not heard a disavowal; the Committee has not responded to portions of the letter being quoted in news stories, so let us dissect it properly.

There are important lessons to be taught and learnt.

First, we have the Coat of Arms and GHANA BEYOND AID typed under it as their letterhead; then there is no reference number for the document ……nothing.

Second, this is how the Committee addressed the letter:

MR RICHMOND BANSAH

ACCRA

There was no “Dear sir”, no painstaking effort to get his office address or home address……nothing.

By addressing the letter to him in person, we have a clear message that government does not deal only with VAT registered businesses as officials have been claiming.

Is that a clue that individuals are being awarded government contracts left, right and centre?

It will be most interesting for the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ Committee to produce all payments made to Richmond Bansah in person.

Ditto for any individual, company or companies the Committee has paid in the course of its work.

Third, the letter states twice the nature of engagement in the first and second paragraph respectively thus:

“You were commissioned to produce an original artwork that reflects the vision of ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ [and] the highlights of the Charter and the Strategy Document.”

“You were required to produce an original piece of artwork.”

Let us reprise a comment made by an art collector when we referred him to Bansah’s online presence at saatchiart.com.

“If you ask me, his artwork on the site qualifies him as an illustrator not an artist. Clearly he has difficulty conceptualizing stuff de novo.”

It will be instructive to see the letter the GBA Committee wrote to Bansah, stating the terms of reference.

Fourth, the second paragraph again states that “This singular act of indiscretion and lack of professionalism on your part has brought embarrassment to the President, the Ghana Beyond Aid Committee and its Chairman.”

With our national Coat of Arms in full view on the page, we must take this seriously; Tsooboi!!

But as my mentor will say, “If you say you will talk…..Before you realise you have become a bad person”.

So let us quickly move to the fourth paragraph which demands Bansah “to provide an explanation” and a “formal apology to the Ghana Beyond Aid Committee”.

Are those the terms delineated in the contract for shoddy work?

Is there a signed written contract between Bansah and the committee? If there is, should they not be referring to it?

Fifth, it is stated in the fourth/last paragraph that this is an “urgent matter” and Bansah is asked “to treat it as such”.
Good, and we are also eager to read his response. This matter embarrasses the president and all of us.

As regards the contents of the Charter and Strategy Documents we shall wait, we really are used to waiting.

Meanwhile we hear the committee has promised to change the cover design before mass printing and has also offered an unreserved apology to the President and the public for their shoddy work.

All that was fine. And then Mr. Bansah’s letter upset the apple cart.

Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Chairman of GBA/Senior Minister has caused his office to issue a news report to Daily Graphic that he has briefed the Council of State about the document.

“He explained that the Ghana Beyond Aid document was not a development plan but a call for a paradigm shift through attitudinal and mindset changes by all citizens of the country,” the newspaper wrote on 4 June, 2019.

The paper added that the GBA Committee Chairman had told the Council of State that GBA required “a non-partisan approach to national development” and the Council members had in turn told him to ensure “fighting indiscipline in relation to sanitation issues, educating the citizenry on their civic responsibilities,” among others.

But the GBA Committee has sat and produced a document, whose first sighting, by an opposition MP, has produced this national embarrassment.

We trust that the GBA has also corrected all silly grammatical and typographical errors; plagiarism; all wrongly attributed photographs and graphs; and made sure the arguments and proposals stated therein are watertight.

We are waiting to see, evaluate and comment accordingly; we shall not relent in fighting and exposing mediocrity.

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