Mills: Hampers? No, Thanks!

All gifts meant for President John Evans Attah Mills during the Christmas season are to be donated to charity. This follows President Mills’ refusal to accept gifts. It forms part of his efforts to fight corruption. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Information told the Times yesterday that the President intended to avoid the presents since it was difficult to determine the motives behind them, saying some givers might have genuine motives while others might have the aim of using the gifts to seek favours in return. Instead of an outright rejection which could be offensive to those who have genuine motives, he said the President had directed that all the presents delivered at the Castle should be put together for donation to the under privileged in charity homes. By putting them together for presentation to the charity homes, he said the President would not get to know what gifts came from which quarters. The President, he said, believed that the gifts would be better enjoyed by the country’s underprivileged. Consequently, all the presents have been put together for donation to selected charity homes. “All this falls within his philosophy of leadership by good example.” The Deputy Minister told the Times, indicating that some Ministers were also emulating the President’s stance on gifts. Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa said the move, which the President intends to uphold throughout his terms, had been his practice since he was Vice President in the previous NDC government. He said there is a thin line between gifts and attempts to influence, and it has been the President’s conviction that corruption should be fought from all fronts. He said the President, however, remains appreciative of all those who genuinely presented gifts to the Castle, and hopes that they would understand and be supportive of his stance on gifts. Mr. Okudzeto-Ablakwa recalled the President’s decision not to accept per diem allowances when he embarks on foreign trips, saying the President is determined to promote the culture of service among people the culture of service among people in leadership Mr. Francis Emile Short, Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice described the President’s action as “a wise one.” That, he said, is because many people use the season to corrupt public officials through gifts, stressing that public officials have to be cautious about accepting gifts especially from the associates in the business community. Mr. Short said while public officials may not have to worry about gifts from relatives and friends, they have to be cautious about gifts from business people such as contractors, suppliers and others who are engaged to provide services for the government. In addition, he said the nature of the gifts should be considered by public officials, since expensive gifts can be used to corrupt them. “It is very commendable, and should be emulated by all public officials,” he said, referring to the President’s gesture.