Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia is in the news not for good, but bad reasons. He is alleged to have distributed expired food items to victims of the recent flood in the Upper West Region, resulting in unprintable words being used against the number two gentleman of the land on social media.
The Chronicle, initially, thought the story was false information put in public domain to achieve political purposes. We were, however, alarmed when the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) came out with an official statement to confirm the speculation.
Read them: “The Regional Stores of the Upper West Region had taken stock of items since the beginning of the year, and had recorded some expired items on 28th of August, 2018, out of which six boxes of such expired oil, unfortunately, found its way into the stock of the items that were distributed in the Upper West Region, due to the haste with which the items were assembled to respond to the emergency in the region. NADMO fully takes responsibility for the said mistake, and assures the general public that no such unfortunate incident will recur.”
After the public admission of the mistake, NADMO then announced to the world that the Stores Manager in Wa, Ali Sulemana, had been suspended for the distribution of the expired food products to the disaster victims.
Much as The Chronicle commends NADMO for quickly accepting responsibility and taking a step further to suspend its Upper West Director of Stores, we think this whole drama could have been avoided if the Vice President had not been compelled to make the donations.
NADMO is the organisation that has been tasked with the responsibility to manage natural disasters. Donation of mattresses and foods items to disaster victims is, therefore, its sole responsibility.
Unfortunately, our politicians always try to score political points by compelling either the president or his vice to make such donations. In fact, since the advent of the Forth Republic, that has been the order of the day.
How can the Vice President deliberately give expired food to people who voted for him – it simply does not make sense – but because his name has been attached to the donation, his hard-earned reputation is being sullied.
As the adage goes in journalism, dog bites dog is not news, but when a man bites dog, that is big news. If NADMO had made the donation itself, the fallout wouldn’t have been as severe as we are seeing now.
The time has come for the executive arm of government to stick to its core functions and allow the state institutions to also handle theirs. It was good Dr Bawumia visited the flood victims, but there was no need for him to stand before television cameras donating relief items to victims – that is the core functions of NADMO – but because the Vice President took over their functions, he is the one who is being accused instead of the disaster management organisation.
When the late President Mills assumed office in January 2009, his communicators virtually became the mouthpiece of all the security agencies. Their public affairs directors were relegated to the background.
Consequently, any time some of these security agencies were involved in the abuse of human rights of others, accusing fingers were pointed at the government, instead of the security agencies themselves.
President Mills suffered for this obvious show of ‘I am in control’ by his communicators and ministers. The Chronicle is advising the Akufo-Addo government to take a cue from this and distance itself from the functions of state-owned organisations.
Since the 2020 general election is two years away, there is no need for Dr Bawumia to be making these donations and the resultant backlash he is receiving, when, as a matter of fact, neither he nor his office bought those items for distribution.