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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 July 2003

Columnist: Asibey, Akwasi

Gov't Must Move to End the Circus at the VRA!

There were times in the history of our dear country when a mere whispering campaign could cost one his job, business, life savings or even his life! Revelations at the ongoing National Truth and Reconciliation Commission (NRC) point to massive abuse of human and civil rights under various authoritarian regimes in the country. These revelations have severely dented our image as a peace-loving and friendly people. Some of the perpetrators of these crimes are still prancing around unrepentant. Some even have the nerve to justify these dastardly acts under the guise of an ill-defined revolution. Do we really have to kill our own in order to implement a structural adjustment programme? Now I need to be told why, some people thought or still think putting gunpowder and pepper in the private parts of a poor woman who was trying to make a living by selling flour, could solve our economic problems? Only those with sick minds would support such an act.

As a society, we are yet to free ourselves from a culture of character assassination. We do not hesitate to resort to “ pull him down” tactics euphemistically called PhD to destroy those we do not like or have an axe to grind. If you are in doubt just take a look at what has been happening at the Volta River Authority (VRA) in the past couple of months. The workers of the VRA have held the whole country spell bound by pilling up allegations upon allegations, some as long as the Volta Lake, against the current Chief Executive and the Board. They have called for the outright dismal of the CEO and the dissolution of the Board. Some have gone as far as to use the various media houses, both print and radio, to make their case by selectively leaking information to them. This is a clear breach of confidentiality.

In times gone by, the workers would have had their way. However in this period of good governance, which is premised on respect for the rule of law and promotion of human and democratic rights, it would have been foolhardy for the Government to have given in to their demands without due process. In a demonstration of civility and respect for the rights of the accusers, the Government set up a special investigation team to delve into the various allegations made against the CEO and the Board. Some investigations were even done by stealth.

The report of the special investigation team is yet to be made public. Nonetheless, tit bits from the media appear to exonerate the CEO from most of the damning accusations. Yet again we were treated with media frenzy of accusations and counter accusations. The workers went to town again and vowed never to accept the CEO in their midst. The CEO issued a press statement accounting for his stewardship at the VRA. It is reported that the President met with the staff of the VRA to try to appeal to them to calm down. He reasoned with them that considering the strategic importance of the company, care must be taken not to undermine its role in the energy sector. The President’s entreaties fell on deaf ears. The staff were still adamant that the CEO should be removed.

In a demonstration of intelligent leadership, the Government called in the Auditor General to investigate further the allegations. Now the Auditor General’s report is out. In a screaming headline, the Daily Graphic proclaimed, “Wereko-Brobby is clean”. Among other things the Auditor General’s report concluded that VRA’s revenue increased tremendously under the leadership of the CEO from US$136,424.71 to US$203,599.21 in 2001 and in 2002 from US$203,599.21 to US$251,125.55. More tellingly, the audit report established that the monthly salary and allowances paid to the CEO were in accordance with the terms and conditions of his employment. Furthermore, all accountable imprest given to the CEO has been accounted for and, therefore, declared as false allegations of impropriety against the CEO (Daily Graphic, July 17, 2003).

In auditing and programme evaluation, the basic rule of thumb is to verify and validate any pieces of information that is given by crosschecking the data. The Auditor General’s report has done just that. And it is now up to the VRA staff to contradict the findings in the report. Failing that the Government must put its foot down and make a firm decision. If it is deemed that the CEO should resume his post, then it is incumbent upon those who claim they cannot work with him to tender in their resignations and look for employment elsewhere.


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