Mills, Where Are You?

John Evans Atta MillsPRESIDENT JOHN Mills is apparently not in charge of affairs at the seat of Government and is oblivious of activities in the Office of the President, sources in the corridors of power have told DAILY GUIDE.

The development, sources say, has landed the President’s Office in a number of rather embarrassing situations, including the one that led to the infamous withdrawal of the ministerial nomination of Moses Asaga, the MP for Nabdam.

Though the President’s Office is alleging that Mr. Asaga, without seeking the permission of the President, endorsed the approval for the payment of the controversial ex-gratia to Members of Parliament and the out-gone Executive, Castle sources say two copies of the letter that was endorsed by Mr. Asaga were actually sent to the Office of the President as far back as January 16, even before the issue took a political dimension.

Mr. Asaga, after endorsing the letter on January 16, forwarded a copy each to the Chairman of the Transition Team on Economy, Clerk to the President, and another copy to the Secretary to the President: Yet President Mills was oblivious of what was happening until the 7th of February when he took action by withdrawing the nomination of the minister designate.  

What is unclear is the reasons for which the said letter was kept on the blind side of President Mills until the amount to be paid actually reached the bank accounts of some of the Members of Parliament.  

Our sources say President Mills has occupied himself with the sole task of receiving guests and envoys and that he regularly attends to a number of senior pastors, prayer warriors and Men of God flown into the country from Nigeria.

The church guests have reportedly turned the seat of Government into a prayer camp and loud prayers and the ‘speaking of various tongues’ are often heard in and around the Castle.

The development has reportedly slowed the entire government machinery to the extent that state matters are not attended to with the urgency they require.

Indeed, a number of the ministerial nominees have told the media that apart from a casual meeting with the President on a few occasions, they were not really consulted before their names were put in the public domain as ministers designate.

After his inauguration, President John Mills seems to have holed himself up at the Castle and apart from his thanksgiving services – first at a controversial church in Nigeria and later at the Independence Square in Ghana – the newly-sworn-in President and indeed his office have remained on the periphery of events.

A copy of the document that was endorsed by Mr. Asaga and available to DAILY GUIDE shows that the correspondence was actually written and signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Nana Juaben-Boaten Siriboe and addressed to the Controller and Accountant-General.

All Mr. Asaga did was to scribble at the tail of the letter that the funds should be appropriately released and that he was endorsing and appending his signature to the letter in his capacity as a member of the Transition Team.

Apart from the aforementioned, the letter was further copied to the Auditor-General, the Director of Budgets at the MOFEP and the Accounts Branch of MOFEP.

The letter stated: “Approval is hereby given for the release of GH¢25,048,083.00 (Twenty-Five Million, Forty-Eight Thousand, and Eighty-three Ghana Cedis) to the Clerk of Parliament to enable the Office meet the payment of Ex-gratia and resettlement grants due Members of the Executive and Legislature of the Republic of Ghana for the period 2005 to 2008 as recommended by the Chinery-Hesse Committee on the review of facilities and privileges for Article 71 regarding constitutional office holders”.

In a breakdown, the letter said GH¢10,176,129.00 goes to the Executive while the larger chunk of GH¢14,871,954.00 is for theLegislature.

“The expenditure of GH¢25,048,083.00 should be charged to reserve Fund Account at the Bank of Ghana,” it concluded.

Sections of the public have opined that the Kwesi Pratt-led Coalition for Joint Action (CJA) demonstration might have pumped President Mills into taking the action he took against Mr. Asaga.

By Bennett Akuaku & Halifax Ansah-Addo