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NPP directs Mills.. JJ MUST PAY RENT!.. For staying in state bungalow for over 20yrs

By Bismark Bebli & Charles Takyi Boadu - Ghanaian Chronicle
Ex- President Jerry John Rawlings (left), Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Minority Leader(right)
Ex- President Jerry John Rawlings (left), Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Minority Leader(right)

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has asked President John Evans Atta Mills to calculate rent for former President Jerry John Rawlings to pay for occupying a state bungalow for a number of years.

According to the leadership of the NPP, they have come to this conclusion based on the premise that the government of President Mills has failed to provide a house and office for the immediate past President, Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, with the reason that the nation cannot afford it.

“If Kufuor cannot be provided a house and an office facility because the nation cannot afford it, then how can the nation afford two houses located at the prime area of Ridge, which ex-President Rawlings has been using for the past twenty years,” the party asked.

Addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday to express its opinion on the one year reign of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration on the theme, '2009 In Retrospect: A Catalogue of Failed Promises”, the minority leader in Parliament, Hon. Osei-Kyei Mensah- Bonsu accused the government of shifting the goal post on various state issues since the NDC assumed governance.

He stated, “President Mills has to calculate rent in order for ex-President Rawlings to pay for the twenty years plus that he has used the facility, because the nation cannot afford residential facilities for former Presidents”, stressing that, “What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.”

The Minority leader, who was flanked by his colleague parliamentarians and the National chairman of the party, Mr. Peter Mac Manu, the party's chief scribe, Nana Ohene-Ntow and other party gurus, stated that their concerns were without any malice.

Kufuor's vehicles
Expressing grave concern over how vehicles were withdrawn from Mr. Kufuor immediately he left office, the NPP believes that the act was in bad taste, and contrary to the provisions of the constitution and what President Mills pledged to Ghanaians.

“Kufuor's four vehicles were withdrawn and taken away from his house, even though former President Rawlings at that stage in his life as former President had not less than sixteen vehicles in his pool of vehicles. Former President Kufuor would not be allowed the use of four cars by President Mills,” he noted.

According to him, even though the Greenstreet Recommendation made no provision for cars for a former vice-President, President Kufuor allowed the then former vice-President, Prof. Mills, the use of not less than two vehicles.

Hon. Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu argued that the nation is witnessing a contrivance where some so-called Ga youth purportedly resolved not to allow the former President to use an office facility which had been acquired for his use as office and library. Accusing President Mills of choosing a path of acrimony, he claimed that President Mills' government waded into the contrivance and took the office away from ex-President Kufuor.

Ex-gratia
On the controversial ex-Gratia, he strongly defended that the review of Madam Chinery Hesse's Committee report was illegal, adding that the President has no mandate to review it.

To him, the assertions that there was no report in Parliament was wrong, stating that when he, together with the majority leader, Hon. Alban Sumana Bagbin, appeared before the Ishmael Yamson Committee, they both confirmed that there was an approval to that effect.

During question and answer time, he observed that the committee came to the conclusion that there was no report because the approval was not captured in a parliamentary hanzard. He said the approval was done behind closed-doors, hence its inability to be captured in the hansard.

“The Chinnery-Hesse Committee Recommendations which had duly been approved by Parliament in respect of Article 68, especially clauses (4), (5), (7) and (9), and Article 71 of the Constitution, made specific proposals relating to gratuity, pension, allowances and other facilities including vehicles, house-helps and office and residential facilities and Endowment Fund.

All these as per the Chinnery-Hesse Committee recommendations, even after approval by Parliament, are subject to ability to pay by the State. All that was required to have been done was for the President on the basis of ability or in-ability of the State to pay, to have engaged the potential beneficiaries on the way forward,” he said.

Explaining further on gratuity & other facilities, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu stated that members of the Fourth Parliament and most Ministers, Deputy Ministers and some Article 71 office holders who served under the Fourth Parliament/President have been paid part of their gratuity.

According to him, after the payment to the former MPs and Ministers, he asked about that for the former President Kufuor and ex-vice President Aliu Mahama, saying “What about the components of the office and residential facilities, vehicles and other prescribed privileges? What happens to the other Article 71 office holders who have thus far not been paid anything at all?” Ishmael Yamson Report

The NPP indicated that President Mills' insistence that he acted upon the recommendations of the Ishmael Yamson Committee, because there was a vacuum, was wrong, saying “In other words, there was no report and hence no approval was given.

It is instructive to note that both the Majority and Minority Leaders of Parliament had jointly declared before the Ishmael Yamson Committee that indeed the report came to Parliament and Parliament duly approved of it.”

He, however, was at a loss when it was concluded that there was no report which was approved.

Speaking passionately on President Mills' declaration that nobody should live in fear under his presidency, Mr. Kyei-Mensah described the statement as a palpable untruth.

The statement that “no Ghanaian today lives in fear of armed robbery” is hyperbolic and a palpable untruth.

The NDC led government must better resource the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Armed Forces to enable them aggressively combat armed robbery through foot, motorbike and vehicle patrols to ensure public safety.”

Revisiting the President's inaugural promise to the nation that “no Ghanaian should live in fear of armed robbery”, he said such a pledge was against the backdrop that under the NPP people could not move around for fear of being attacked

Recounting the early days of vehicle snatching and dismissal of public servants, Mr. Kyei-Mensah referred to President Mills' own statement that “I would be President for all Ghanaians, whether they voted for me or not, irrespective of their political persuasion and the part of the country that they come from”.

The Minority leader noted that this statement was clearly of a noble intent, but significantly, even before the echo in that declaration could peter out, members and activists of the ruling party had descended and appropriated to themselves the manning of lorry parks and public toilets from suspected supporters and sympathizers of other political parties, especially those of the NPP.

Alleging that many NPP members were assaulted and battered, he said it seemed that President Mills has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the protestations and the groaning of the victims.

Wanton Dismissals
“We need to remind ourselves of dismissals which have been effected on many public officers since January 7, 2009, during the transition period, …as well as others who were handed dismissal letters by persons who were non-Ministers, but who purported to be acting on behalf of the President.”

The NPP, through the minority leader, averred that other arbitrary dismissals involved the Heads of School Feeding Programme, the National Identification Authority, the National Health Insurance Authority and many other departments and agencies in the public service.

On loyalty to the NDC and to the state, Hon. Kyei-Mensah reminded President Mills of his inaugural speech when he urged members of the Judiciary, the security and public services to be loyal and committed to…our dear nation.

“One thought that loyalty to the nation or state is completely different from loyalty to a political party which finds itself in government. It is for this reason that we find it strange that the President himself, an Associate Professor of Law, should now openly canvass the position that public and civil servants who do not share in the ideology of the ruling NDC government have to vacate their positions.” According to him, nothing could be more dangerous to our democracy than to equate the state with government.

He said, per Article 3(1) of the Constitution which disables Parliament from enacting laws to establish a one-party State, clause 2 of the same article prevents any person, including the President, from suppressing or seeking to suppress the lawful political activity of any other person or class of persons.

What is more pitiable is that the same President who pledges to be father for all Ghanaians has directed his political appointees to give special attention to members of the NDC.

Read full report in tomorrow's editon of the paper