Most Ghanaians I have spoken with have welcomed with relief the conclusion of the somewhat long drawn-out process by which Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah is now to become a Minister of Trade and Industry.
We understand the President will swear him into office soon so he can assume full duty and help the President to improve Ghanaï¿½s economic performance. All Ghanaians look forward to Dr Spio-Garbrah working closely with his colleagues in government to improve the lives of ordinary Ghanaians.
It is against this background that its seems very inopportune for some Members of Parliament to conduct themselves in such a manner as done by the Minority Leader during the debate for the approval of the Trade & Industry Minister, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah. It can be recalled that the Minority leader Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, commenting on the floor of the House on the vetting of the President's nominee for Minister of Trade & Industry, made a number of unfortunate statements that were unfair and untrue about Dr Spio-Garbrah aimed at muddying his image.
For the Minority Leader to claim that the Minister-designate lied to the Appointment Committee on his age during admission into High School is to accuse the Minister-designate of perjury, as Spio-Garbrah had sworn an oath before his vetting to speak the truth. I wonder why the Minority should go so far on such a petty issue unless this is part of a broad NPP agenda to simply damage the Minister designate even before he can start to work. In fact, those of us who attended the vetting were surprised to see that Dr Spio-Garbrah swore the oath on BOTH the cross and the Bible, although he was required to swear on only one. A supporter claimed that the nominee wanted to assure the Committee that he would be doubly honest.So why this late attempt to impugn the integrity of the Minister while approving his nomination.
According to Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, investigations showed that Spio-Garbrah's account that he entered secondary school at age 9 was untrue. Mr Bonsu did not tell Ghanaian who conducted this investigation and if this is not true then what is true. Also, the Minority Leader's accused Dr Spio's posture during the vetting as arrogant, but could also be best seen as an attempt by the NPP leadership in Parliament to vilify the Minister-designate and to portray him as an arrogant and dishonest person to the Ghanaian public who have shown so much affection for him after his excellent performance at the unprecedented six hours vetting. It is more shocking to note that such a statement is coming from the experience legislator after many of the committee members heaped praises on Spio-Garbrah for his excellent showing at the vetting with an NPP member of Parliament Hon. Titus Glover even declaring that "Spio dazzled at the vetting".
Or did Spio-Garbrah's penchant for using the least opportunity offered through questions posed by the committee to educate Members of the Committee and the millions of Ghanaians who followed the live-broadcast of the over six hours vetting amount to arrogance? Come again Mr. Osei Mensah Bonsu!!!!!. It is well thought that the general public including the learned Minority leader learned useful lessons from the vetting and therefore must rather applaud the profoundness of Spio-Garbrah's experience , brilliance and knowledge and not to give such disparaging comments. And if the Hon. Minority leader is just being vindictive to try to reduce the growing public obsession of Spio-Garbrah to help inject life into President Mahama's government. It is advisable for Osei Bonsu and his colleagues to find another job to do as Spio- Garbrah is not new to Ghanaians.
If Hon Osei Mensah Bonsu has forgotten, Spio Garbrah served in a previous NDC government as Minister of Communication, Minister of Education and at a point, Minister of Mines & Energy. He was also Ghana's ambassador to the US and Mexico in his early 90's and succeeded in laying the foundations for former American President Bill Jefferson Clinton visit to Ghana in 1998. Was Spio-Garbrah arrogant when he was able to garner public support in the late 90's for the Value Added Tax (TAX) which was previously rejected by the public leading to the infamous 1995 Kume Preko demonstrations orchestrated and led by the "All Die be Die" Nana Akuffo Addo and his allies?. Hon. Osei Mensah Bonsu should also be reminded that it is only humility or meekness that takes a man to serve in high offices such as the Chief Executive Officer of the prestigious Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization.
And if Spio- Garbrah is so arrogant as the Minority leader wants Ghanaians to believe, would, he have also served as Chief Executive Officer of the Action Faith Chapel, a Christian church, after being a minister and ambassador? How many NDC or NPP ministers can Hon Mensah-Bonsu point to who have accepted such a humble job after their political appointments??. .In fact one clear example of Hon Spio-Garbrahï¿½s honesty, modesty and humility is that he stayed in a 2-bedroom outhouse for 10 years, from 2001-2011 after he had worked as a Minister and an Ambassador. Many political leaders and leading journalists visited him there. I also did. How many NPP ministers, who looted state lands in Labone, Roman Ridge, Cantonments and Airport Residential Area as well as in Kumasi, could have lived in such modesty?
It seemed so evil that with the over six hours at the disposal of the minority leader to grill the Minister-designate, he failed to ask the nominee of his age when he entered secondary school only to state on the floor of the august house that the nominee lied to the appointment committee. If the Honorable member values the principle of fairness, he could have asked Spio- Garbrah during the vetting at which time Spio would have had the opportunity to defend himself rather than hiding behind his parliamentary privileges to make statements that are totally false. If, as is expected, the President's nominee submitted his resumes to the appointment committee weeks before the vetting, it is only appropriate that the Minority leader with his standing in parliament should have done due diligence on the CV and only ask for clarity during the vetting process.
Has Mr Osei Bonsu checked with WAEC as to what age Spio-Garbrah was when he passed his Common Entrance, O and A Level exams? If Hon Osei Mensah has found that Spio did not pass Common Entrance at the age of 9, can he tell Ghanaians how old Spio was when he passed that exam and was admitted to Achimota? Has the Hon Minority Leader checked from Achimota School or the University of Ghana on same issues? Is he angry that Ekwow Spio-Garbrah obtained a University degree at the age of 19 years?. If that is an achievement, why does Hon Mensah Bonsu begrudge Spio-Garbrah? Why should anyone not mention their achievements on their CV? Spio-Garbrah never said he repeated any classes, rather he was jumped. But news reports have Hon Mensah Bonsu claiming that Spio-Garbrah was repeated in primary school.
What is then more "Machiavellian" than an honorable member of Parliament trying without success to demean the image of an internationally acclaimed diplomat. Or has Osei Mensah Bonsu been overwhelmed by the intellect and achievements of Spio-Garbrah in both national and international spectrum that he had to hide behind the security of parliament to throw his punch borne out of jealousy and pettiness??.
At a time when Parliament is under the spot-light with some calling for Members to earn the title " honourable" such acts of inferiority complex, pettiness and cowardice is to be least expected from a very decent man like a Minority leader. It will be appropriate for the Minority leader withdraw his statement and render an unreserved apology to the Minister of Trade & Industry and also to the President of the Republic who appointed the Minister for such uncouth misconception of arrogance of the Minister.
By: Justice Dansu Norvor
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