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Opinions of Saturday, 17 March 2012

Columnist: Akuaku, Bennett

President Mills: Elected To Lead, Decided To Follow

A Thai Monk once told me that a good leader is a person who carries the people of his generation (or his followers) along with from one point of their lives to another. Ever since I heard this revealing statement, I had spent several days pondering over our political leaders, past and present, as to whether they actually deserve the name.
Quickly, I tried to make a fast scan from Nkrumah through Busia, Liman, Rawlings, Kufuor, but when I got to the turn of President John Evans Atta Mills, I was compelled to ask myself the provocative question: ‘Does God Truly Appoint Political Leaders’.
The question hit me because of all the elections this country has ever had (or the once I have witnessed), none was preceded by such fervent prayer and fasting than the December 7, 2008 elections. I remember in the last three months to that elections, the energy invested by religious people knocking on the gates of heaven for God to get the country ‘the right leader’ was so invaluable that by the time the voting day was due, it was like the entire electorate were being pressurized to just go to the booth and choose whoever they see as ‘a God-fearing and humble man’ irrespective of his capabilities.
I don’t know whether God actually answered that national cry when he gave us Professor Mills, but one thing that is clear today is that we have a leader who is simply not leading
My disappointment in the man started from the very day the law professor, devoted Christian, and morally upright man publicly jumped to the defense of his then Sports Minister, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, when the latter ( a married man) took his girlfriend along with him on a foreign trip at the expense of the Ghanaian taxpayer.
Before then, we all witnessed how the president’s own appointees virtually slapped him in the face by bluntly turning down his directive to declare their assets. Not even an ultimatum from the Office of the President was enough to put any ‘fear of God’ in them.
Then when the ‘Muntakagate’ came up, his ‘poisonous response’ to a question from a journalist was that it was a normal thing for a married man to flirt with his girlfriend at the expense of the Ghanaian taxpayer.
The President’s retort to Metro TV’s Mary-Anne Acolatse clearly smacked of the very mediocrity in Ghanaian body-politic that his vice, John Mahama, had condemned during the run-up to the 2008 general elections.
Hear him:
“Are we saying that this is the first time that ministers of state have gone abroad with girlfriends, this is the first time that ministers of state have infringed the law, have spent state money on themselves?”
At the end of the day, the minister was merely asked to ‘step aside’ while the two civil servants who blew his minister’s cover were sacked.
Then came the ‘Gidisugate’, where the Minister of Roads and Highways, Joe Gidisu, received a brand new BMW 7 Series valued at $166,000 as a gift from a Chinese Road construction company undertaking a government project.
Even though the minister admitted receiving the ‘gift’, contrary to the high moral grounds Atta Mills had stood since day one, all he did was to direct that the car be brought to the presidency. The minister is walking free and officials of the construction company, AO Road Project that bribed his cabinet minister are not reprimanded in any way.
The same weakness and lack of leadership were at play when he was misled by his ministers in the hasty sod-cutting ceremonies for the Volta University and STX deals which backfired big-time. As for Ghana’s current rating on the diplomatic chart on the continent (AU, ECOWAS), the least said the better.
But of all the embarrassments to his administration, this Woyome nonsense (Woyomegate) is the most worrying, not because of the ‘GARGANTUAN’ nature of the fraud, but the rather appalling stand of the first gentleman of the country in the whole matter. He kept hiding behind Betty, Amidu, and now Kumbuor, when indeed he knew what exactly to do to show is in charge of affairs. Just listen to him some weeks ago before he reluctantly tasked EOCO to look into the scam:
“When this case first broke, I was in the US and I ordered the two ministries involved, at the Attorney General’s Department and the Finance Ministry, to give me a report, a report which I wanted to be published so that the world would know what happened. But upon further thought, I thought that the issue is not whether the amount was paid, who paid it…. First of all, who incurred the liability?...I would want to tell the beneficiaries that I am not out to embarrass them -- NO…We have to find out who incurred the liability because if the court awarded the judgment or awarded the cost, whatever it is, it’s a way of saying that the beneficiary is entitled to it…Now, who made it possible for that beneficiary to be entitled to that amount?"
For the president to task the two ministries to give him a report implied that he was not aware of what went on, but the head of EOCO, Mr Mortey Akpadzi, at a press conference disclosed that the President did not only get a wind of the fraud long ago, but actually intervened on two occasions to stop it but, as usual, his directives were brushed aside by his officials hence the financial loss of GhC51 million (about $40million).
The contents of the report (to the effect that Mills was aware) were corroborated by media reports attributed to sources close to Alex Segbefia (Joy FM) and Betty Mould Iddrisu (The Statesman).
Now, if the EOCO Report is anything to go by, then will the president muster the courage (if he has any) to apologize to Martin Amidu, the A-G he sacked for following the matter with too much alacrity?
But come to think of it: Here is a president who asks his A-G to go to court to try and get a judgment set aside ( as part of his so-called intervention) only for her to go and negotiate payment, yet the president does not sack her but rather simply reassigns her to another ministry.
Is it not also interesting that the Minister of Finance, whom the president told the nation does not require his approval before making payments, was (according to the EOCO boss), ‘advised’ by the very president stop payment to Woyome?
What about the impression by the president that while Betty was forced to resign (thanks to the media) for being ‘too slow’ in stopping the payments, Marty Amidu was sacked for being ‘too zealous’ in his bid to retrieve the money at all costs.
All these have their political costs to his administration, and he needs no one to tell him that. We agree that certain decisions are hard to take, but didn’t Kufuor prosecute Malam Issah, his own sports minister?
If things remain the way they are going, this year’s election would not be a choice for Nana Addo, (---or whoever) but a referendum on President Mills, and if that happens, the effectoutcome will be sad. This is because a choice for a new leader will lead to a close election results between the two largest political parties, as is usually the case, while a referendum would give a wide electoral margin.
And when he eventually falls, bet me the very people he is defending today will join the opposition to give him a ‘falling ovation’ after the elections.
He should also not forget that losing an election after just one term for non-performance is not a pleasant way to be booted out of politics, but being humiliated by one’s own appointees and campaign financiers is certainly a worse alternative.
I Rest My Case.

By Bennett Akuaku (Negative Realities)
E-mail: akuatey@yahoo.com
Blog: akuatey.blog