Thursday, January 7, 2010

Come again, Mr. President.

President John Mills marked his first year in office with a press conference at the castle gardens on Thursday. The press conference was telecast live and almost everyone who watched it on TV or heard it on radio might be as much astonished as impressed with the president’s responses. Various questions were asked however, the question that appears to have created a storm is the President’s response to the famous ‘Muntaka’ case. Alhaji Muntaka, the Member of Parliament for Aswanse-a suburb in the Ashanti Region heavily populated by persons from Northern extraction, was forced to resign or otherwise following reports that he took his personal girlfriend to Germany on the ticket of the education ministry. Before that he had flown the same girlfriend, who was a secretary to majority leader of parliament Alban Bagbin, to watch an African football tournament in Ivory Coast. He was also accused of using the resource of the ministry to buy pampers and other items for his family, and spent huge sums of money on meat or ‘chinchinga.’ His case has become an albatross and when the President took turn to answer the questions from journalists, Muntaka’s case up again. There were those who thought the President didn’t deal with the issue very well and rather allowed the man to go without any kick in the ass. With all the questions asked at the press conference, the Muntaka case was the one that engaged almost everyone in the country. Responding to the question from one of the reporters that he-the president-didn’t handle the issue very well especially because it bothers on corruption, the president said it was not corruption but “indiscretion” on the part of the “youngman.” “We are not going to condone corruption where there is no evidence,” the president says. However not everyone was impressed, as well as myself. Honestly, one of the reservations I had with the answer was the President’s call for ‘evidence.’ I was shocked because the call for evidence was what most Ghanaians flagged former President Kufour on during his time as president. The current ruling government itself used that as part of its campaign to get the NPP out of government. It’s therefore surprising that President Mills will allow himself to be caught up in this ‘evidence’ thing. It’s important for President Mills to know that indiscretion could also lead to corruption and Muntaka’s case is one of such. I find it worrying the attempt by the president to play semantics by saying ‘forgery’ and ‘corruption’ are not the bedfellows. I wonder what interpretation could be given to the situation where a private secretary to an MP is represented as an official from a ministry.

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