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Opinions of Friday, 25 August 2006

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

What, If Hon. Amoateng Was A Minister Of State?

It is almost one year since an honourable member of parliament, Hon Eric Amoateng, the New Patriotic Party MP for Nkoranza North was arrested in New York for alleged drug offences. People have read various meanings into his arrest and have tried to make all sorts of extrapolations and interpolations concerning the alleged behaviour of Honourable Amoateng. Others have called for his resignation to allow for his constituency to get an active representative in parliament. Every attempt to push for the seat to be declared vacant has so far not gathered enough momentum. The majority still believe that Hon Amoateng can be still be a member of parliament while awaiting his fate to be declared by law courts in New York.

Today, the Trumpet of Conscience wants to join the faint voices of those who are calling for the seat to be declared vacant to allow for a bye election to be held in the constituency. It is sad that in this country if one speaks against party A, then the person is said to come from party B. We need to rid ourselves from this narrow provincialism.

As I have said in this column before that his arrest and subsequent detention in the US has charred our national image. For a member of legislature to be allegedly caught red handed is quite unfortunate. Until a court of jurisprudence rules his case Amoateng shall be deemed to be innocent as we say in the criminal justice system. However, if we are to remain silent until the case is determined that would mean we have all, one way or another become accomplices.

The people of Nkoranza must be represented in parliament and not in the police cells of New York as it pertains now. The stance taken by the leadership of parliament, NPP party and its government on Amoateng’s seat is a little disturbing. For now no one knows the length of the trial process and for us to wait until the case is judged before he comes to continue his work as a parliamentarian would not be fair to the good people of Nkoranza. The NPP should have called on Amoateng to resign from his seat from day one when the case surfaced. Sometimes we must have the courage to take unpopular decisions. Honourable Amoateng’s trip to the US was not official but rather private and should be dealt with privately.

People in high positions must take responsibility for their actions. I am not condemning Honourable Amoateng but the circumstances under which he was identified with drug peddling and arrested is very unfortunate. If Hon. Amoateng were to be from any other party than the ruling party the majority would have flexed their way through to call for his resignation to pave way for a bye election in the constituency.

So what are we waiting for? And who must also decide? Is it for Hon. Amoateng to wake up one day and write a letter to the Speaker of Parliament saying that he has resigned his seat? Or is it the party that would put pressure on him to resign? Or are we waiting for a day when the Supreme Court declares the seat vacant? Should the trial take five years to be determined, would it mean that the people of Nkoranza North would never be represented in parliament throughout this time? If this is so then we have not been fair to the people of Nkoranza North. Another question is: is his monthly salary still being paid to him while he is incarcerated?

If honourable Amoateng were to be a minister of state for say Education or Finance in the NPP government would His Excellency the President have allowed his position to be waiting for him pending the determination of the case? The answer is definitely No. At least the president would have asked someone to act on his behalf and would have taken advantage of the last reshuffling to get rid of him permanently. Again if Amoateng were to be a minister, he would have been assisted by a deputy.

However, since parliamentarians do not have deputies his continual stay in the penitentiary means that his work has grounded to a halt. We do not have to be pulling the legal strings. This world hinges on a moral foundation and we are setting a bad precedent for the future. The President, NPP Chairman and the leadership of parliament must advise Honourable Amoateng to resign his seat so that the voiceless people of Nkoranza North can have their views heard in our legislative hall. A stitch in time saves nine. There comes a time when patience is of no relevance.

The people of Nkoranza North cannot wait whilst new charges keep on pilling on the docket of Hon Amoateng daily. A time comes when silence is betrayal. We have betrayed the people of Nkoranza North. The appalling silence exhibited by people of goodwill in this country is rather unfortunate. Lamentably, it is a historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture but as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals. But there is a voice that speaks without words and addresses us in the depths of our being. And that voice says to our Hon Amoateng, the NPP Chairman and whoever matters that: IT IS HIGH TIME WE ALLOWED HON AMOATENG TO RESIGN TO ALLOW FOR A BY ELECTION.

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance writer and the president of the Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation.
He can be contacted through: Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, P.O. BOX. KS 13640. Kumasi. Tel

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