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When Dismissal Is Interpreted As Retirement   
 
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01-Sep-2011  
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When the day of reckoning comes, the people of this country would have enough evidence on which to judge this administration. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” my apologies to William Shakespeare.

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In the 1970s, when the Union Government concept was being debated in the run-up to the referendum of March 30, 1978, the University of Ghana, Legon, was a hot bed of student agitation against the concept. The then Head of State and Chairman of the Supreme Military Council, General Kutu Acheampong, conceived a simple solution to the problem.

He identified Dr. Jones Ofori-Atta, who was then Dean of Students, as a very bad influence on the students. To remove this influence, Gen. Acheampong called his top advisers to a caucus meeting, and decided that Dr. Ofori-Atta should swap places with Dr. Quarcoopome, who was a physician and considered a friend of the Union Government (Unigov) concept.

The proposal sent his inner core of advisers looking sternly at each other. In those days, it was not a very wise option to be seen opposing directives from the military oligarchy. It was considered an affront to the military leaders, and could result in the person being put in protective custody, in the ‘person’s own interest.’

Acheampong’s advisers looked perplexed. It was then that Mr. Joe Appiah, then the government’s roving ambassador, summoned courage and told his boss that it was not possible to swap positions between Dr. Ofori-Atta and Dr. Quarcoopome. Dr. Ofori-Atta, he said, was not a medical doctor.

The Chairman of the SMC looked perplexed. “Aden onwo pannie?” Why, does he not administer injections? He asked. “Doctor ben na onwo pannie? Which doctor does not give injections? He asked rhetorically.

In the end, there was no swap. But, the proposal itself, told a lot about the frustrations of a head of state who could not have his way.

President Atta Mills might not have exhibited that kind of ignorance in the debacle over Prof. Frimpong-Boateng’s retirement saga. But, the circumstances leading to the dismissal of Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, and the attempt at damage control, has left rotten egg all over the face of the Head of State. It has exposed this Head of State as not being on top of serious issues.

How could the President be unaware of a serious issue as the dismissal of the surgeon who virtually built the Cardiothoracic Centre? In any other administration, Minister of Health Joseph Yieleh Chireh would be looking elsewhere for employment.

As it is, the manner of getting rid of the heart surgeon is creating a number of problems for the sitting Head of State. We are being told that President Atta Mills did not know about the dismissal of the heart surgeon, and that he was briefed, only after the Head of State had arrived home from South Africa to the furore surrounding the dismissal.

If the President truly, did not know, then what kind of administration is he running? Does it mean that ministers of state can do what they like without authority from the Head of State? I am not inclined to believe in this theory. It would be very dangerous to the body politic to imply that the Head of State is only a Simpa Panyin in the scheme of things of those Prof. Atta Mills has chosen to help him execute his floundering ‘Better Ghana’ rhetoric.

I believe that the President was aware. Long before he flew to South Africa, President John Evans Atta Mills knew that Prof. Frimpong-Boateng would be sacked. He may not have originated the idea. The decision to sack the heart surgeon was, most probably, taken by the hawks in the administration.

Knowing the Ekumfi-born President of Ghana, he might not have objected to the decision. That is the nature of the President. All this idea of briefing the President on his return is bunkum.

On Tuesday, the good old Professor of heart surgery will address the media at the International Press Centre in Accra. It is expected that he would read out what he thinks could have led to his dismissal. But, I dare state that the decision to remove the man, who has made Ghana famous for open heart surgery, could not have been the most prudent of decisions taken by this administration.

Prof. Frimpong-Boateng was sacked, because, as they say in the National Democratic Congress (NDC), he is a Kukrudite – the NDC description of those seeking political protection under the elephant.

I need not stretch my imagination far. About two weeks ago, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo went to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital as part of his listening tour. He was said to have been enthusiastically welcomed by doctors, nurses, and para-medics, who complained about the poor state of medical care in Ghana.

The leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was said to have asked worried staff of the nation’s premier institution for medical care to put all their concerns on paper. Nana Akufo-Addo is reported to have told his audience that he had appointed Prof. Frimpong-Boateng to head a special NPP task force on health. It would be the duty of the heart surgeon to collect and collate all views on how to improve health delivery in Ghana, on behalf of the elephant family.

The views, so collected, would form the basis for a comprehensive policy on health of the Nana Akufo-Addo campaign. It is this that has informed the sudden realisation that the heart surgeon is 62 years old, and should leave the Cardiothoracic Centre “with immediate effect.”

The age reason being bandied about would not fly. After all, this administration appointed a core NDC activist, who is now 65 years old, to replace a 54 year-old Chief Executive of the Komfo Anokye Hospital in Kumasi in 2009.

As you read this article, workers of the National Investment Bank (NIB) are up in arms against the Managing Director over his age. The workers say Dr. P.A. Kuranchie is 70. He says he is now 62, the same age as the heart surgeon.

I have heard government officials quoting relevant clauses on the retirement age to justify why Frimpong-Boateng should be sent packing. Is the government not aware that Dr. Kuranchie, who the Mills administration brought back from retirement to head the NIB for instance, is long past the retiring age?

In Act 5, Scene1 of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the physician attending to Lady Macbeth was so shocked, after watching her talking to herself in her sleep-walking episode, that he remarked:

“Foul whisperings are abroad.
Unnatural deeds breed unnatural troubles,
Infested minds to their pillows will discharge their secrets.
More needs she the divine, than the physician.”

Sacking the good old surgeon cannot be compared with the conspiracy between man and wife that led to the murder of King Duncan. But, the circumstances under which the President exposed himself, in an attempt at damage limitation, could be likened to some aspects of Lady Macbeth’s sleep-walking scene.

“Hell is murky, Fie my Lord, fie a soldier and afeard? What need we fear?
Who knows it, when none can call our power to account?

Yet, who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him…
All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! Oh! Oh!”

Like many inexplicable things this administration has pursued in the name of that phantom of a concept they have christened ‘Better Ghana,’ the ordinary folks of this country are too meek to call their powers to order. As they say in the Queen’s language, every dog has its day. It may take the rest of the four-year mandate for the people to decide.

When the day of reckoning comes, the people of this country would have enough evidence on which to judge this administration. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” my apologies to William Shakespeare.
 
 
Source: Ebo Quansah/The Chronicle
 
 

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