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Opinions of Monday, 10 July 2017

Columnist: Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo

Ghana@60 Committee Chairman, please sack yourself first

In the past week, a couple of issues have generated the headlines and set social media on a frenzy; the fast-trending Hon. Adjoa Sarfo #Sarfolies, actor, Christabel Ekeh’s nude photographs and of course, the gridlock between playwright, Chief Moomen and the Ghana60YearsOn Committee.

I will go with the last trending topic!

It is evident that Mr. Ken Amankwah, Chairman, Ghana@60 Committee has very good credentials with lots of experience; the reasons the President, Nana Akufo Addo, settled on him to lead the Ghana 60 Years Committee as its Chairman.

However, his actions, especially his response to the social media rant of an obviously frustrated Chief Moomem leave much to be desired.

That ill-timed response from Mr. Amankwah proved that, he is not in charge and his claim that, the Events Sub-Committee Chairman has been shown an early exit for giving out funds without authorisation is laughable and upsetting.

In actual fact, if anybody at the Committee must be shown an early exit, it has to be the Chairman, Mr. Amankwah, for his handling of affairs at the Committee. It seems he’s been sleeping on the job and has little inkling on how the Committee is managing the GH¢20m given to it for its activities.

Contract<

“Chief Moomem called on me at my office in the Flagstaff House to demand final payment for his staged musical sometime in late April this year.

Apparently, he had been to see the Events Sub Committee Chairman on several occasions without success. All that I asked him at our meeting was my signed contract with him. He looked vacant and confused,” Mr. Amankwah wrote.

Yes, Chief Moomen looked confused because, you knew there was no signed contract but you approved for the play, ‘Wogbe J3K3’ to be included in the itinerary for the March celebrations of the anniversary.

He was confused because, you signed the invitation letters that brought all the high-profile personalities from government and the corporate fold to watch the play.

Chief looked vacant in your office because he couldn’t fathom how you could remind him of a contract when you gave permission for Jefferson Sackey, Chairman of the Media and Publicity Sub-Committee, to gallivant on all radio and television stations across the country to trumpet how ‘‘Wogbe J3K3’ was an official activity which formed part of the Ghana60YearsOn celebrations.

Luck Got Him GH¢100,000

“Well, Chief Moomem, you were even lucky to have been paid the GH¢100,000,” Mr. Amankwah wrote.

That was an incredible statement from the Chairman, that Chief was lucky; that luck shed his light on him, and that was the reason he received GH¢100,000 to stage a two hour and 30mins-production with a cast and crew of 170 people.

The Chairman says luck got the young man that measly amount that was supposed to take care of production and technical costs, remunerations, rehearsals, sound, lights, set, props etc.

We blame you not, Chairman! Your grasp of the arts, what it entails and what goes into staging a well-put-together play like ‘Wogbe J3 K3’ is weak, very feeble. Your appreciation of the arts is not only pathetic, it is also disrespectful, Sir!

Your approach to Chief Moomen and the mention of luck in the dispensation of the money is just a reflection of how you and your ilk in governance perceive the arts, your comparison to a Prof. Martin Owusu play 10 years ago, also depicts how weak your economics has become.

Sir, this is a guy who is using the arts to give jobs to 170 people and more, allowing them to showcase their expertise as actors and technical crew and providing the avenue to many, including you and your class to get into an auditorium and enjoy their act. There’s no luck in that!

Early Exit of Sub-Committee Chairman

“Moomen received GH¢100, 000 in cash from the Chairman of our Events sub-committee as “mobilisation” fee. This was payment done by the Events Sub Committee Chairman without authority and he had since been reprimanded.

You contributed to the woes of the Events Sub Committee Chairman leading to his early exit from the Committee,” Mr. Amankwah wrote.

Mr. Chairman, you were bold to inform the whole Ghana in your response to Chief Moomen that, you have ‘sacked’ the Sub-Committee Chairman, but unfortunately - you also exposed your lack of control and oversight as Chairman.

Under your watch, some person was able to sign off an amount of GH¢100,000 ($25,000) from the coffers of the Committee without your knowledge and authority?

So, under your stewardship, Sub-Committee Chairpersons and other members are able to take critical decisions without authority and members are expending money, our own money, money placed under your expert management without authority?

Sir, how plausible is it to show the Sub-Committee Chairman the exit when the one in charge of the oversight of all activities and dealings of the Committee is still at post? Ideally, you should sack yourself, Sir!

Lack of Respect For the Arts Industry

In January, the President inaugurated a 30-member committee, the Ghana60YearsOn Committee to spearhead activities marking the one-year celebrations and there was a representation for the Arts – a member from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

That single slot for the Arts is somehow the bane of the problems emanating from the Committee, especially when one considers the fact that, most of the activities related to the celebrations are within the domain of the Arts.

The Chairman’s lack of proper understanding of the Arts and his way of handling issues with practitioners in the Arts who have some business with the Committee could have been averted if the State paid recognition to the contribution of the Arts and included more than one member on the Committee.

Are we surprised? Not really. The constitution of the Committee and Chairman Amankwah’s appreciation of the Arts in his banter with Chief Moomen mirrors the perception persons in power hold for members of the Arts and the entire industry – but surely, we shall alter that misconception.