Ebo Barton-Odro Is A Disgrace To Parliament

In a quite neighbourhood at South Odorkor in Accra, where Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, one-time Prime Minister of Ghana, had his home, a number of young men gather daily around the game of draughts, sharing their experiences.   They are proud owners of small-scale businesses, offering services ranging from tailoring, barbering, pub attendants and laundry workers, to a growing clientele among the working class population.

With the power outages reducing them to idle hands, they gather to drown their sorrows in the local gin, at a  waist and power joint, from where they depart to spend the rest of the day playing draughts and blaming the moribund Mahama administration for denying them the power with which they used to earn their livelihood. On a number of times, the idling young men are joined by a number of seamstresses, who also have time on their hands as a result of the constant power outage.

The power outages, known in local parlance as ‘Dum-so’, are crippling, not only small scale industries. For large business concerns, the effect is even more disastrous. The other day, the Association of Ghana Industries challenged the Government of John Dramani Mahama to keep its word of cushioning the effect of ‘Dum-so’ on Ghanaian industries.

“We appreciate that the water level of the Akosombo Dam is not so good, and there is a reason why we are having all these challenges. But the point is that the assurance was given that some barges would be added so that we could have a lot more energy supply,” Executive Director of AGI Seth Twum  Akwaboah said on a private radio station in Accra.

Earlier, the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry had urged the government to improve the energy situation, in order to avert the continuous collapse of manufacturing companies.  “We cannot predict what will happen in mid-year if the energy supply is not resolved. It is bad for business, because our companies are collapsing, and they will keep on collapsing until the situation is resolved,” Dr. Prosper Adablah, Vice-President of the Chamber, complained in Accra.

The effect on newspapers and electronic media production is equally horrendous. The other day, Mr. Ken Ashigbe, Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, publishers of the Daily Graphic, this nation’s leading newspaper and one of the leading brands in this country, had  cause to complain about the horrendous effect of ‘Dum-so’ on production.

That is why the ordinary Ghanaian, and, particularly industry players, would be dismayed reading the comment by Mr. Ebo Barton-Odro, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, on the power crisis on the front page of The Chronicle today.

According to the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cape Coast North, many of whose constituents are suffering from the energy crisis, owners of businesses which are collapsing ought to blame it on lack of strategic planning, and not the current power outages.

Mr. Barton-Odro was interviewed by Citi-FM after the launch of Strategic Management, a new book authored by Prof. Gyan Baffour, an opposition Member of Parliament. “If business owners are unable to implement (strategic management), then we are not getting anywhere, and that is why I talked about the assessment,” he told Citi FM.

He is quoted as saying that after every substantial period, business must assess themselves to find out “why did you fail in this regard, and what can you do to better your lot the next time.” According to the First Deputy Speaker, if all these factors are duly considered, business would survive, despite the current power challenges. “We need to measure all these things, and that is why quite a number of businesses tend to end up collapsing prematurely. I don’t think they go through this kind of processes.”

No one is suggesting that the Honourable Member of Parliament for Cape Coast North has no right to advice businesses. But at this crucial time, when the government’s failure to provide power is crippling businesses and testing the resolve of the average Ghanaian to the brink, a leading member of the governing party, who presides over Parliamentary sittings, ought not to rub salt into the wounds of long suffering business owners.

I call this statement irresponsible and callous. And Mr. Ebo Barton-Odro is an honourable man. He presides over Parliamentary proceedings, calling MPs to order, as First Deputy Speaker of the Republic of Ghana. From where he sits as a leading member of the governing party, Mr. Barton-Odro is duty-bound to help the government find solutions to the power outages which are crippling businesses and affecting the quality of life at the Centre of the Earth.

I will like to believe that the government that props him up as First Deputy Speaker in Parliament should be strategic in its management of the country and its power, generally.

What input did Mr. Barton-Odro, as a lawyer and leading member of the NDC, contribute towards the shaping of the NDC manifesto? In the year 2010, Mr. Barton-Odro was Deputy Attorney-General when the AG’s Department handed over almost GH¢52 million of state cash to Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, described as a leading member of the NDC, in a judgment debt scandal, even though senior legal advisers of the state, including Mr. Ebo Barton-Odro, were aware that Woyome never had, and still does not have any contract, with the state to merit any payments to him.

In spite of the dubious payments, Mr. Barton-Odro went public to state clearly that the state ‘had no case.’ Today, the AG’s Department is in court trying to claim the huge largesse from Woyome. In this country, officials are getting away with murder. In any jurisdiction, Mr. Barton-Odro would, not only have lost his membership in the house, he would have been in court accounting for his role in the loss of that amount of money to the state.

If the Cape Coast lawyer, hailing from Saltpond, has any conscience, he should tender in his resignation from Parliament. He does not deserve to sit over proceedings in the House. He is a disgrace to the august House I dare state. If this administration had applied strategic management to the power generation and the art of governance generally, this nation would not virtually be in the dark.

Writing about conscience reminds me of the statement issued by Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, yesterday, in re-action to a publication in The Chronicle on Tuesday, concerning the wages of ministers. Dr. Boamah is reported to have wondered why a news medium “will choose to imagine such amounts, knowing well that they are false, is surprising. But Ghanaians can be assured that their ministers are not entitled to the said allowances, and do not receive same.”

The Minister of Communications, now the official spokesman for President Mahama, “also noted that a Cabinet Minister does not even earn GH¢10,000, let alone, a non-Cabinet Minister.

The news item said, Dr. Omane Boamah “urged The Chronicle and other news mediums that have made it a regular strategy now to deviate from the tenets of responsible journalism and publishing deliberate and concocted stories as news to turn over a new leaf for the sake of renewing the confidence of readers, listeners and viewers in their mediums.”

The statement said the Minister does not want to believe that “The Chronicle publication is yet another set-up by the opposition parties to push out false news, and prepare their officials to run-down government officials.”

The interesting thing about this statement is that the Minister conveniently chose not to disclose what ministers take home, whether in the form of wages or allowances. One other interesting development is the link officials of state seek to attach to anything unpalatable to the NDC Administration to the opposition. Very soon, when a minister coughs, the cause would be traced to Paul Afoko and his officials at their Kokomlemle head office in Accra.

For the attention of Dr. Omane Boamah, and other ‘Babies with Sharp Teeth’ in the Mahama Administration, long before Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings, and those who claim to believe in him, constituted the whole governance system of the Provisional National Defence Council military junta into the so-called constitutional National Democratic Congress, using the resources of state, The Chronicle had been established as a very credible independent newspaper.

If Dr. Omane Boamah does not know, I will kindly urge him to learn on the job. I shall return!