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Opinions of Friday, 9 September 2011

Columnist: Young Patriots

Is President Mills Fit To Lead?

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Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, thank you for showing up in your numbers for this press conference. We called you here today for you to throw the public interest light on probably the single most important item of our time and yet an item so far curiously ignored by the nation and treated like a taboo subject but which we all know is widely discussed across Ghana but in private. By this we mean the state of health of our President.

Article 57 and 58 of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana vest executive authority in the President of the Republic, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ghana. Article 69 provides three circumstances for the removal of the President. The third of these is where the President is incapable of performing the functions of his office by reason of infirmity of body or mind. For the purposes of the removal from office of the President, what is required is a notice in writing – signed by not less than one-third of all the Members of Parliament, and stating that the conduct or the physical or mental capacity of the President to be investigated. In the case of ill health, the Chief Justice shall, in consultation with the professional heads of the Ghana Health Services, cause a medical board to be convened and the President shall have 14 days to appear before this board to be examined and the findings made transparent to the Ghanaian public through Parliament where the proceedings, according to the Constitution, shall not be in camera, ordinarily. This constitutional provision, ladies and gentlemen, makes it clear how important a national interest issue the physical and mental health of our President is, therefore the people of democratic Ghana have a right to know about the true state of their President’s health. WE need to know and we must be told.

It is no secret that Ghanaians are forced to endure, under President John Evans Atta Mills, the most ineffective, inactive, incompetent, weak, hopeless, visionless, indecisive and directionless leadership under any constitutional government in Ghana’s history. Ironically, the administration of President John Mills and Vice President Mahama is by far the luckiest ever since the First Republic and this luck has happened by no direct act of their own. They inherited an economy at least four times bigger than what they left behind 8 years before. An economy strong enough to resist a global turbulence far heavier than the one that occurred in 2000 when Prof Mills, as Vice President, was head of the Economic Management Team, with Mr John Mahama, now head of the Economic Management Team, as a leading member of that disastrous Economic Management Team. The Mills-Mahama government has been very lucky because in the last two and a half years, Ghana’s two main export earners, gold and cocoa have enjoyed record high prices in the world market. On top of that, President Mills has what no other leader of this country had, the blessings of oil revenues, through the visionary leadership of President Kufuor.

President Mills has borrowed heavily, around $15 billion in both external and domestic loans and yet still he has nothing to show. He called 2011 Action Year, we have three months to go and there has been no action on his promise to bring relief to Ghanaians. Young Ghanaians cannot find any jobs. Those who had jobs are being laid off because businesses are suffering and collapsing. Parents cannot afford to pay school fees. Teachers and health workers are crying over unfulfilled promises about their pay. There is evidence of vulgar corruption and naked greed in and around the Castle. Incompetently drafted agreements are approved by the Castle and passed by a rubber stamp parliamentary majority. The power play in and around the Castle, particularly to do with the oil and gas industry, is so fierce that it has caused a gridlock in the development agenda. Nothing seems to be moving, except upfront fees, commitment fees and chop chop. As the anti-corruption campaigner and Member of Parliament for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, P C Appiah-Ofori said yesterday, President Mills is a very “weak leader” who cannot discipline some of his appointees who indulge in “adzegyangyan”, meaning, “useless things”. And, yet, to the frustration of millions of Ghanaians, including diehard loyalists of his own party, the President gives the impression that he believes he is doing well and his Better Ghana Agenda is on course. The reality is that Ghana has but a titular president; a president in name and title alone. As the founder of the ruling party and many others have observed, important decisions of state are being taken on the blind sides of the President. We are ‘led’ by a president who hears no suffering, sees no sufferings and acts against no sufferings. A president who cannot hear evil, see evil and act against evil. In short, ladies and gentlemen, GHANA HAS AN ABSENTEE PRESIDENT.

This leads us to only one logical question: what may be the cause of this absentee presidency? Ladies and gentlemen, the rumour consensus in Ghana is that the Head of State is very ill and his bad and ineffective leadership are as a result of his ill health. What we had no consensus on was on the diagnoses. It has now come out from a Minister responsible for giving information, and a former leading executive member of the NDC, that the President is allegedly suffering from throat cancer. While we don’t have to take everything said as the gospel truth, we believe the President owes it a duty to the Ghanaian public to come out with the truth of his medical record and the actual state of his health. We do not believe and we have every reason not to believe that President Mills has so far been truthful to Ghanaians on the issue about his health. We are therefore calling on the President to come clean on this critical matter. While, the fact of his ill health has been known to Ghanaians for a very long time, President Mills’ own reported statement to United States embassy staff, the embassy’s own analysis and the recorded ‘konkonsa’ (or gossip) of the former Deputy General Secretary of the NDC and current Deputy Minister of Information, Baba Jamal, has now narrowed the illness to laryngeal cancer, commonly known as throat cancer – the fatal sickness of drunkards and heavy chain smokers. An illness that causes hallucinations.

It is recalled that in 2010, Mr Herbert Mensah, a key figure in the 2008 campaign strategy team of the NDC, and a close confidant of NDC founder President Jerry John Rawlings, claimed emphatically in a live radio exchange with Mr Ato Ahwoi that Ato Ahwoi told him that Prof Mills was “disillusioned”, “hallucinating” at times, seeking “spiritual assistance” from pastors and did not want to go ahead as the 2008 NDC Presidential Candidate. Indeed, it is worth observing that, it was after his well-publicized trip to South Africa for medical treatment in 2006, that Prof JEA Mills loudly and repeatedly made the issue of God a major part of his public life. While we welcome this convenient repentance, it does not stop us from ripping the veil of hypocrisy to see the real Mills.

Openly, since then every Ghanaian has seen the physical transformations of the President but his handlers were loudly silent on the issue until Matilda Asante questioned him at the second encounter with editors at the castle. And instead of the President stating the truth to the people he is elected to serve, his only response was that “we all have hospital cards”.

The recently released US diplomatic cables have opined that the Foreign Service Health Practitioner at the US Embassy in 2007 stated that President Mills, then candidate Mills, had throat cancer.

We all recall Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, after visiting Prof Mills on his hospital bed, telling former President Rawlings in 2006, through an sms, that “Mills had an unspecified illness”.

Several well-informed contacts within the NDC have told personnel from the US embassy that Prof Mills has/had throat cancer.

More emphaticaly, Baba Jamal, in a US embassy cable of June 5, 2007 “confided that Mills had some kind of throat cancer and said he was on the mend, although not yet fully recovered. In Ghanaian culture, a politician cannot admit to illness, so we should not expect Mills to be forthcoming on this, Jamal added” according to the cable.

Prof Mills in an earlier meeting with staff of the US embassy did what he has been doing to Ghanaians all along, he would not tell the truth about his health. He lied about it to win power and he is lying about it to pretend he is ruling Ghana.

In a January 26, 2007 meeting with staff from the US Embassy in Accra, “Prof Atta-Mills stated that ‘he had contracted a serious sinus infection, probably from swimming’. As a result, his Chinese doctor friend in Ghana told him the problem could be diagnosed using a Magnetic Resonance Imagery.

“Since Ghana did not have MRI capabilities at that time, his Chinese doctor friend encouraged him to get an MRI in China, which he did. The MRI, according to Prof Mills, confirmed his infection, which Chinese doctors claimed would have to be treated with radiation therapy.

“Mills said he did not want to have the treatment in China, which he was told would take six weeks. Instead he sought treatment in South Africa, where his nephew lives. South African doctors confirmed the diagnosis and treated him with radiation in his nasal passages. As a result of the radiation and a sore throat from the therapy session, he was unable to eat solids for several weeks and lost significant weight, which he was warned would be an expected consequence of the treatment,” the cable stated.

It is this account of Prof Mills that was disputed by the Foreign Service Health Practitioner at post at the US Embassy, stating categorically that the treatment Prof Mills had could not be for a sinus infection or sinusitis.

The Foreign Service Health Practitioner noted that “MRIs are usually not required to diagnose sinus problems unless a physician is concerned about tumours”. The expert also noted that “radiation therapy is not usually used to treat sinus infections (usually antibiotics or surgical repairs are used), but that such therapy is more likely used to treat some form of cancer.”

Our own checks with medical experts concur with the US embassy’s assertion that President Mills has some form of cancer and not a problem with his sinus.

Sinusitis is treated with decongestants, antihistamines, a broad spectrum of antibiotics as well as corticosteroid nasal spray, whereas chemotherapy, radiation therapy (the treatment President Mills underwent in South Africa) to attack cancer cells, and surgery are the common treatments for throat cancer.

It is common knowledge that President Mills was a known chain smoker as well as an excessive use of alcohol in his days as a lecturer at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana, Legon.

It is recalled that in October 2006, a newspaper carried a story that Prof Mills was afflicted by a throat cancer, possibly Naso laryngeal which affects the nose like a sinus infection. That paper was forced by the Office of Prof Mills to retract and apologise because Prof Mills’ director of communications and now director of communications at the Presidency, Koku Anyidoho, stated that it was pure lies and a fabrication.

Ladies and gentlemen, what cases throat cancer? Smoking is the most important risk factor for throat cancer. Heavy consumption of alcohol, particularly alcoholic spirits, it is a major cause of that. Is it the excesses of the President’s years of abuse of alcohol and chain smoking of cigarette and marijuana that have caught up with him? This overwhelming evidence cannot be missed by Ghanaians as to which of our leaders have actually abused his body.

When combined, these two factors of long years of alcoholism and smoking have a synergistic effect. Some other quoted risk factors are likely, in part, to be related to prolonged alcohol and tobacco consumption. These include low socioeconomic status, and oral sex, especially with multiple partners, forcing the disease to get hold after the person hits more than 55 years. Throat cancer affects both eyesight and hearing. It is no secret that the President has problems with both his eyes and hearing. There is a political vacuum in Ghana today which appear to be caused by the President sending more time on his health than delivering on the so-called Better Ghana Agenda. Those who are benefiting from that vacuum, (the Kitchen cabinet, the unelected cabal) would do anything to hide the truth from Ghanaians, as we saw in Nigeria last year. We have a major problem of poverty to deal with in this country, to add a sick executive to the list of our already overwhelming problems is too expensive! The only reason why executives who are too sick to govern still hold on to power is the innate dictatorial tendencies they have and the selfishness of the so-called Greedy Bastards. We want to know what is actually wrong with the President? What does that mean to his capacity to lead? How much is the state spending on his treatment? Sources at the Castle indicate that it costs the nation more than $5 million a year to treat the President. This includes flying him to South Africa and the United States for treatment in private hospitals; flying in and out a number of top specialists to see him. While we are not against the state spending to keep the leader alive and healthy, we are saying that we need to know the truth. We are calling for transparency and accountability. The dishonesty and deceit are too much for far too long. The people of Ghana deserve to know and we call on the President to be true to his oath of office and to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Richard Nyamah (0246 833 616) Hopeson Adorye (02014 33 925) John Kumah (0244 171 471) Titus Glover (020 073 7197) Adomako Baafi (0243 305 126 Asamoah Gyamfi (0244 585 817)

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