The slow burning friction between President John Dramani Mahama and some leading members of his ruling National Democratic Congress is not likely to simmer down any time soon as supporters and sympathizers of the party would have wished.
The latest flash of hazard lights to signal a collision course was a suggestion by General Secretary of NDC, Johnson Asiedu-Nketsia, for government to utilize the Heritage Fund, which is proceeds from the Jubilee Fields set up for the future generation; to arrest current shocks in the economy.
President and his party’s General Secretary are also divided over the playing of Daddy Lumba’s “Y?ntieObiaa” hit song during the President’s recent tour of the Ashanti region.
While Mr. Asiedu-Nketsia’s proposal has generated heated arguments, with several financial experts arguing for and against, the presidency according to our high placed source is not only unenthused but, equally embarrassed about the proposal.
Though the NDC General Secretary’s suggestion is nothing new, as it has been a subject of debate among technocrats at the Finance Ministry from day one, information gathered by The Al-Hajj indicates that President Mahama is strongly opposed to that idea, especially coming from the ruling party.
Sources at the seat of government familiar with the president’s position on the matter revealed to The Al-Hajj they weren’t therefore surprised when a member of the party’s communication team, Samuel George Nettey, on Joy Fm’s weekend news analysis program, News File last week Saturday, brazenly lampooned the NDC General Secretary, Asiedu Nketia and Fifi Kwetey, Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of Financial and Allied institutions, claiming they must not be taken seriously.
“Asiedu Nketia and Fifi Kwetey spoke in their private capacity; I speak as a member of Government Communications Team… “I speak for Government” Samuel George Nettey forcefully told Newsfile host, Samson Lardy Ayenini.
Adding; even though Asiedu Nketia attends cabinet meetings, he (Samuel George) has authority to speak to the issue of the use of the Heritage Fund.
“The adroit show of bravado combined with fearless authority at which the NDC communicator and confidante of the President advised Ghanaians to pooh pooh Mr Asiedu Nketsia’s suggestion which was also supported by Fifi Kwetey and other party gurus, only goes to reinforce the President’s opposition to the use of the fund”. A source at the Flagstaff disclosed.
The NDC General Secretary recently noted that “it doesn’t make sense” that Ghana is keeping an estimated $120 million from the Heritage Fund in an offshore account when the country is smarting under economic hardships arising out of lack of funds in the national kitty. “In this current situation that we find ourselves, it doesn’t make economic sense to be keeping any money called Heritage Funds,” Asiedu Nketia told Accra-based Citi FM, questioning the rationale behind borrowing from international financing institutions and countries “at a rate of about five percent, eight percent and so on, when our own money is being kept by somebody. It doesn’t make sense.
But Sam George, a communicator for the party widely believed to have the President’s blessing to contest the National Youth Organizer position of the NDC, counseled fellow panelists, viewers and listeners of News Files to treat Mr Asiedu Nketsia and Fiifi Kwetey’s proposal on the use of the fund as nothing but individual views. Stating his opposition to the NDC General Secretary’s suggestion, which he said was not government position, Sam George stated “I speak for government…Asiedu Nketsia and Fiifi Kwetey spoke in their private capacity; I speak as a member of Government Communication team.”
The aL-hAJJ has gathered from deep throat sources in government that the president was not moved about suggestion that Heritage Fund should be used and considered it as a blushing, likely to give credence to opposition indictment of government as having lost grips on the management of the economy.
President Mahama’s opposition to the proposal, our sources added; stems from the fact that law that brought into force the Heritage Fund, the Petroleum Management Act, 2011 (Act 815), was sponsored by an NDC government, therefore, it is imprudent to turn to the fund within the short period it was created. The use of the fund by an NDC government, Flagstaff House sources say will give credence to allegations by members of the New Patriotic Party that the ruling government has an agenda to squander the oil revenue.
While it is clear to many that Sam George lacks the capacity to publicly scold Asiedu Nketsia and Fiifi Kwetey in the manner he did, sources say he only carried the cross of the presidency to state his position on the matter. As if to confirm all isn’t well between the government and party, Mr Asiedu Nketsia last week also openly criticized the presidency for allowing the “Y?ntieObiaa” song to be aired when the President toured the Ashanti region two weeks ago.
The use of the song, which literally means we shall not listen to anyone or we shall not mind anyone, the NDC General Secretary noted; does not bode well for consensus building. Though some members of the NDC, like the president seemed to have fallen in love with the Daddy Lumba hit song, with some even proposing the song be adopted as official campaign hit for 2016, MrAsiedu Nketsiah warned that the use of the song was wrong particularly as it relates to president Mahama who is been hailed as affable and a listening president.