When Mahama Ayariga appeared before the vetting committee of parliament some days ago the greatest issue that he had to grapple with was his purchase of some (5) five tractors to do some commercial ploughing for farmers in his constituency in Bawku in the Upper East region in March 2009.
On the eve of his appearance before the appointment committee of parliament the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) after its investigations into a petition fired against Ayariga exonerated him of any wrong doing in the purchase of the tractors.
I am not ready in this article to go into the authenticity of the CHRAJ rule because some of the premises on which CHRAJ based its judgement appeared to be in its self as controversial as the Ayariga’s case!
Just before his appearance before the appointment committee of parliament Ayariga was on several radio stations justifying his purchase of the tractors and added that “if given the chance he would buy more tractors”! He went ahead to add that; tractors were not BMW cars, Chrysler cars etc.
All those statements he made to the media in my view were unnecessary and if I were him I wouldn’t have spoken to any media house on the case. It is not automatic to talk to the media when they keep on ringing your phone to ask you questions.
I must say that, Ayariga’s statement that; the tractors were not salon cars to me was “kindergarten” arguments. We all know that proceeds from the work of the five tractors could buy BMW’s and the Chrysler cars so he didn’t just need to go there at all!
Secondly there was no doubt that Ayariga bought the tractors only when his government was in power and whether he likes it or not it will be near impossibility to rule out proximity to power and conflict of interest in the purchase.
All these not withstanding I still believe that Ayariga should be confirmed by the appointment committee to take up the post of deputy minister of Trade and Industry for the following reasons;
Firstly, Ayariga after the furore that has characterized the issue of the tractors will definitely be very careful in his new appointment. At least he has learnt some lessons for the future. It will be inexcusable if he commits same mistakes again.
Secondly, once the majority leader Alban Bagbin also bought some of the tractors but was strangely not questioned on it by the same appointment committee, then, Ayariga must also be shown some “compassion” by parliament. Bagbin is every inch guilty of the same charges against Ayariga! So sleeping dogs must be allowed to lie.
Thirdly, the group that petitioned parliament and CHRAJ about the Ayariga tractors in my personal view were unfair and vindictive! My reasons being that; why was Bagbin the majority leader who also bought the tractor(s) not dragged to CHRAJ too?
Good is good and bad is bad! If it was bad for Ayariga to buy tractors under questionable circumstances, Bagbin was also wrong to have also purchased the tractors. The question to ask is; why didn’t the group mount pressure on Bagbin and others, who also bought the tractors?
Also, Ayariga has solid credentials to serve perfectly in his new position; he is youthful and energetic, he has at least learnt on the job by virtue of his previous positions as Member of Parliament and presidential spokesperson among other portfolios and should therefore be given approval by parliament.
His confirmation will also serve as a motivation for the youth who will feel comfortable around him. I must however advice Ayariga that, should he be confirmed he should pick his calls and attend to everybody without the usual “I am in the middle of a serious meeting” excuse by politicians.
I am also of the personal view that, since the tractors are actually up north ploughing for poor farmers at subsidized prices it is a good thing. I only will suggest that the tractors must be made to plough for all farmers and not only National Democratic Congress (NDC) farmers.
There is no doubt at all that the three Northern regions are usually known to be the poorest in the country and also predominantly farmers I am honestly always in support of programmes that can help the poor northerners.
If Ayariga tractors though acquired through questionable circumstances can help the people then it fails under “The guilty with explanation” cliché. So parliament should show some compassion on Ayariga!
Source: Akilu Sayibu, UK Email: [email protected]
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