The Central Regional Minister-designate, Ama Benyiwa-Doe yesterday made a dramatic u-turn at the Appointments Committee vetting on her political effusions about the cocaine menace in the country.
After conceding that the increasing incidence of cocaine trafficking is a national one which should be tackled devoid of partisanship and political propaganda, Ms. Benyiwa-Doe was virtually on her knees pleading that the Committee had grilled her enough at the vetting.
This rather uncharacteristically intrepid public admission on cocaine was a far-cry from her previous ranting on political platforms that the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration was a cocaine party, suggesting that the illicit drug menace in the country was the creation of the previous administration.
The Central Regional Minister-designate and National Democratic Congress (NDC) WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Organiser, who is widely noted for making wild allegations, was subdued like a supine virgin when she was sturdily threatened with legalÃ‚Â action by the NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia, Dr. MatthewÃ‚Â Opoku Prempeh.
Having made serious allegations at various fora that NPP organizers had been engaged in cocaine business, Ms Benyiwa-Doe was challenged by Dr. Prempeh to name the personalities involved or he would take legal action against her.
The Minister-designate was rescued by Chairman of the Committee and First Deputy Speaker, Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho, after she fumbled and wobbled in mentioning names.
Ms. Benyiwa-Doe also failed woefully to substantiate an earlier allegation made by her that most banks along the Spintex Road were engaged in money laundering when she was pinned by the NPP MP for Techiman North, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi.
She was again hesitant in answering a question posed by the NPP MP for Adansi Asokwa, Hon. K.T. Hammond on the controversial ex-gratia award to MPs, an issue which led to the ousting of Hon. Moses Asaga by President Atta Mills from ministerial nominations.
After struggling to extricate herself, Ms. Benyiwa-Doe finally admitted that she had a month ago received ex-gratia per the Chinery-Hesse Committee report but that it was an end-of-service benefit due her after the 2004 Parliament.
Earlier, the Regional Minister-designate answered pertinent questions from members of the Committee bordering on how to effectively manage the region to facilitate socio-economic development.
According to her, she will collaborate with all relevant agencies and stakeholders in the region to provide the needed infrastructure and amenities such as schools, roads and good drinking water that would enhance development, growth and improvement in the living conditions of the people.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The campaigns are over and I am going there as an administrator and I will work with everybody to develop the region,Ã¢â‚¬Â the regional minister-designate assured.
When he took his turn, the Ashanti Regional Minister-designate, Kofi Opoku Manu, who was quizzed on the development of the region, lamented about the way Kumasi had lost its fame as the Garden City as a result of filth that has engulfed the municipality.
According to him, the streets of Kumasi are congested with both vehicular and human traffic, making the place unsafe for any activity.
He has therefore promised to mount a sustainable exercise to make the city more habitable and healthy.
The Minister answered questions from members of the Committee on issues of chieftaincy, impasse between District Chief Executives (DCEs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) as well as the recurrence of the stadium disaster.
On the bottlenecks between DCEs and MPs which he described as troubling, the Minister-designate expressed his determination to reconcile all contending sides in the region to ensure harmonious relationship among them, stressing, Ã¢â‚¬Å“if we are to move forward, we need to cooperate and agree among ourselvesÃ¢â‚¬Â.
On the recurrence of the stadium disaster, he decried that government had been too gentle in the implementation of punishment therefore when given the nod he would intensify investigation on those responsible for the unfortunate development and accordingly ensure that the laws deal drastically with the offenders.
Taking his turn, the Minister-designate for the Brong Ahafo region, Nyamekye Marfo said he would embark on an aggressive afforestation programme to restore the forest cover.
When asked by the Chairman of the Appointment Committee, Edward Doe Ajaho, whether he would create a forum to educate the people on the excessive use of money on funerals, he replied, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The funeral issue is a cultural issue so I will refer it to the Ministry of Chieftaincy to deal with the matter.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Messrs. Mahmood Khalid and Nii Armah Ashitey, Ministers-designate for the Upper West and Greater Accra Regions respectively also appeared before the Appointments Committee.
By Awudu Mahama & Sheilla Sackey