Ghana's President John Kufuor is coming under intense
criticism after allegedly giving the nation's highest awards to himself and his
close allies. Critics of President Kufuor's administration wondered why the
government would spend more than 65-thousand dollars on a medal with which he was decorated at a national awards
ceremony. Some Ghanaians reportedly expressed outrage after the independent Insight
daily newspaper disclosed an amount of more than one-point-five million dollars
was spent on the awards handed out.
They condemned the Kufuor administration's
action as a demonstration of its continuing profligacy and insensitivity to the
plight of the ordinary people. But the government denied the accusation, saying
the purpose of the awards is to reconcile and unite the country. Raymond Archer
is the publisher and editor in chief of the Insight newspaper. From the
capital Accra, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the government has shown a
warped sense of priority in reassigning the awards after being turned down by a
former president and a current presidential candidate.
the controversy is how a sitting president can create the highest award in the
country and award it to himself? He says that the Star of the Eagle of Ghana is
the highest award of the land, but that it was supposed to go to a Ghanaian
president who has successfully ended his term of office. But as we know, the
president has not concluded his term of office. The other controversy obviously
is the fact that he nominated ex-President Rawlings, and he turned it down. And
eventually, he nominated Professor (John Atta) Mills for a lower category, and
he also turned it down," Archer pointed out.
trying to honor Atta Mills, the presidential candidate of Ghana's main
opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party, President Kufuor came
under heavy criticism from his own ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). Archer points out the embarrassment of
placing a political opponent in a higher category than the presidential
candidate of Kufuor's own ruling party.
political party was very vehement because at the time Professor Mills (NDC) was
nominated, Nana Akufu Addo (NPP) was nominated for a lower category than former
Vice President Mills, and his party went berserk. And the party used some very
harsh language against the president for nominating Professor Mills, who is the
NDC presidential candidate for a national award, and giving him an award, which
is higher than his own party's presidential candidate," Archer noted.
said although the government might have a good intention of instituting the
national award, it came out as having been significantly tilted towards the
president and his closest associates.
he meant well. But there are some genuine concerns from opposition members,
which suggests that the president's conduct within the past two terms hasn't
been conciliatory enough, and they don't think that a mere award is what
reconciles the nation, but the gestures," he said.
said his newspaper uncovered some of the details of the monies spent and how
the contract was awarded to a foreign company.
fact, the story was broken by us. We found out that the president spent a
whopping one-point-four million dollars just on the medals for the awards, and
that he selected the highest and the most expensive medal, which costs
33-thousand pounds sterling (about 65-thousand dollars) and insisted that it
must come in the format of yellow and white gold for himself. And that in his
category, even though we all know that it was only the president that received
the award, we also found out that he bought five of those medals, which comes
to about 165-thousand pounds sterling (about 130-thousand dollars), which is
about three billion cedis. We did also find out that this jewelry had to be
shipped and airlifted under an express shipping agreement, which cost the nation
another 22-thousand pounds sterling," he said.
said the government-flouted Ghana's procurement law, which calls for such
contracts to be put on public tender.
for example found out that the contract to award this amount to produce the medal
was not put on public tender. We have a procurement law, but the president in
particular has been very notorious in bypassing the procurement law when it
suits him," Archer pointed out.