Criticism of Mahama’s travels unfair – Kwadwo Mpiani


The criticisms of President John Dramani Mahama’s travels abroad are out of place according to a former Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani.

In an interview with Citi News, Mr Mpiani said: “He [Mahama] is the President of the country. I don’t think the president will just pack bag and baggage and say I’m travelling and leaving the country. There must be a reason for the travel.”

The President last Wednesday travelled to Burkina Faso in his capacity as the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help resolve the political unrest in the country.

On Friday, on the invitation of President Goodluck Jonathan, he travelled to Nigeria to attend a sporting event. He had previously been to the UK, Denmark and Norway and is currently in Italy where he is expected to meet the Pope at the Vatican on Monday and will be back in Ghana on Tuesday.

The president’s recent travels have attracted criticism, especially from the minority, who have described them as “wasteful.”

The Member of Parliament for Manhyia South, Matthew Opoku Prempeh said on  Eyewitness News  in October: “Certainly when you combine all his travels since 2009 as a Vice President, acting on behalf of his Presidency, President Mills to now,  we don’t seem to see the benefit that accrued to the nation. I don’t remember the President staying here for even five days. Certainly he is a President who has stayed outside the shores of this country for a longest time possible.”

The criticisms have intensified in recent times following the Speaker of Parliament’s refusal to be sworn in as interim president in the absence of the President and his vice, Kwesi Amissah Arthur.

Deputy Minority Leader Dominic Nitiwul on Eyewitness News on Friday also criticised the President for this frequent travels and accused him of causing the current constitutional quagmire after the Speaker refused to be sworn in. 

President Mahama is currently at the Vatican on an official visit 

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has suggested that it may have erred in criticising former President Kufuor’s travels during his tenure in office. “We do agree that we might have erred in the past to have overly criticized him for those travels because some yielded positive results,” said the Propaganda Secretary of the NDC, Richard Quarshigah.

But Mr. Mpiani believes that the NDC may be paying for the unfair criticism of the former president while he was in office saying: “Unfortunately those who criticised so much when President Kufour was [in office], are now at the other end. Now they are trying to defend the travels of President Mahama.”

However the former Chief of Staff believes the travels of President Mahama should be scrutinized based on their importance and not because of their frequency.

“I don’t think we should criticise for criticism sake. Let’s find out why he is going out. Is there a need for it? if the President has to go to Burkina Faso, shouldn’t he? So some of these criticisms I believe are out of place,” he argued.

Speaker of Parliament Doe Adjaho
Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani has also called for a review of the constitutional provision that requires the Speaker to be sworn in when the President and his vice are out of the country.

According to him, “the president, whether he is in Ghana or out of Ghana, is still the president of Ghana. President Mahama went to Burkina Faso because he is the chairman of ECOWAS, how can anyone convince me that because he is there we should sear someone in as the President of Ghana. He is still the president there is he not. So if we have another President here, do we have two presidents?

He added: “In this modern day, the President talks to his cabinet and colleagues wherever he is. He takes decisions on behalf of the country, so how can we have an acting president? So if we swear in the Speaker [as President], can he reverse any of the decisions taken by the President? The lawyers will have to look at it again; if it is the constitution, then we should look at it again and see the best way for the country.”

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