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John Atta Mills' First Year As Ghana's President

Published on Saturday 9th January 2010 John Atta Mills' First Year As Ghana's President

Today, January 7, 2010, is exactly 365 days since President John Evans Atta Mills assumed office as the fourth President of the Republic of Ghana.

Besides being the third "John" to ascend the nation's presidential throne as Chief Executive Officer of the State, President Mills also made history as the first Vice President to be sworn in as the President of the Republic, having survived three grueling rounds of elections on December 7 and December 28, 2008 presidential run-off and the January 2, 2009 Tain constituency elections.

However, the tax law professor's first year in office, as the President of Ghana, saw some developments and controversies in the country's political history, most of which cannot go without mention.

Many of the issues range from perceived harassment of political opponents to alleged human rights abuse on the part of security agencies, and administrative lapses.

The hullabaloo and the brouhaha after the then President-elect, Prof. Mills, named his transition team, headed by one of the country's the political Methuselahs, Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, to oversee the handing over of power from the then administration of President Kufuor to the Mills administration.

The first controversy was perhaps, the President's own inability to recite the oath of allegiance when he was officially sworn in office on Wednesday January 7, 2009.

Some opponents of the ruling party made a hue and cry about the president's inability to repeat the oath of allegiance after the Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood, with some calling on him to re-take the oath, which officially inducted him into office as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces.

Just before the curtains could be closed on the oath swearing chapter, the Director of Protocol at the Castle, Mr. Victor Smith, with some military personnel, stormed the seat of government and seized a number of vehicles which had been parked there.

Seizure of private cars by National Democratic Congress (NDC) hoodlums also persisted unabated, with some of the victims being Chief Kufuor, ex-President Kufuor's son, Samuel Obiri, the 2008 New Patriotic Party (NPP) campaign director of operations, and Benjamin Debrah, Managing Director of the Barclays Bank.

Reports of toilet seizures across the country by thugs, believed to be members of the ruling party, also became the order of the day in January, and while these acts were ongoing, some supporters of the NDC, in pursuit of vengeance, allegedly assaulted and brutalised people believed to be sympathisers of the opposition NPP at the Konkomba market in Accra.

On January 22, 2009, President Mills released the first batch of the much-awaited list of ministers which included both ministers of state and regional ministers.

On February 3, a renewed clash between supporters of the NDC and the NPP at the same Konkomba market, led to the murder of one Alhassan Hussein.

The month of February also zoomed in with the unending controversy of ex-gratia, when the former Chief of Staff, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, was alleged to have rail-roaded the House of Parliament to officially approve the emolument package for officials of the out-going government and Members of Parliament.

As the debate over the ex-gratia raged on, the Minister-designate for Works and Housing and Member of Parliament (MP) for Talensi Nabdam, Mr. Moses Asaga, was given the sack on February 6 for ordering the payment of the controversial ex-gratia awards to some former state officials, when he was asked to take temporary responsibility of the Ministry of Finance.

On February 17, the NPP transition team, led by the former Chief of Staff, officially announced that it was backing out of the transition process, citing reasons of unfair treatment on the part of the P. V. Obeng-led government transition team.

Four days later, on February 21, the President committed yet another slip in Parliament, when he pronounced the word "economy" as "ecomini," an issue which was on the lighter side, and characterised the political scene for sometime.

News of the death of the veteran parliamentarian, Mr. Edward Salia, the MP for Jirapa, got to Ghanaians on Monday February 16. On February 24, the alleged harassment of Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, the NPP running mate for the 2008 elections and then Deputy Managing Director (MD) of the Bank of Ghana also became an issue when his privileges were alleged to have been taken away from him.

The month of March also brought another interesting revelation, when some NDC bigwigs, including government officials totaling 40, flew out in a chartered plane to La Cote d'Ivoire to witness the final football game between Ghana and DR Congo at the maiden CHAN tournament.

Names of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Alex Segbefia, the then Sports Minister, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, and a famous business tycoon, Mr. Kojo Bonsu, featured prominently as high ranking personalities who embarked on the ostentatious trip, said to have cost the nation thousands of dollars.

News of the seizure of ex-President Kufuor's private vehicle also broke out on March 10, and seven days after, operatives from National Security, under the instruction of the nation's security capo, stormed the former President's private office at Osu. On March 24 of the same month, news of the seizure of the former President's office was reported.

The month of June, however, ushered in the most controversial political outrage, when news of alleged malfeasances and corruption on the part of the then Minister of Youth and Sports, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, broke out.

The embattled Minister finally tendered in his resignation on June 25, after fighting tirelessly to clear his name of the long list of allegations which were leveled against him by the Chief Director at the Ministry, Mr. Albert Anthony Ampong.

The month of June also witnessed a number of political dramas including the detention of the former Chief of Staff, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), and the subsequent solidarity demonstration by former ministers and minority MPs.

Then came the hilarious revelation of the extravagant spending of the transition team, chaired Mr. P. V. Obeng, after it was reported that an amount of GH¢3.6 million had been spent by the team on tea and breakfast alone.

An acute fuel shortage also hit the country for the first time under the government of President Mills in the month of June.

In the month of July, Ghana was put under the global media microscope when the first African American President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama, paid a historic visit to the country between July 10 and 11.

Just when everybody thought the visit of the US President to Ghana had succeeded in calming the political tensions between the two leading political parties, political hostility was once again re-awakened with the stopping of the former Minister of Information, Mr. Stephen Asamoah Boateng, by the BNI on August 5, when he was about to board a flight to London.

On Friday July 24, the Court of Appeal in Accra acquitted and discharged Kwabena Amaning aka Tagor and Alhaji Issah Abass, both businessmen, who had been jailed 15 years each on drug related offences.

It was unexpected news to Ghanaians, and the discussion that generated on the airwaves and in the print media went on for some few weeks.

The month of September was also characterised by the "pissing in" and pissing out" media war between the former NDC presidential hopeful, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, and a leading member of the ruling party, Mr. Ato Ahwoi, after the former wrote an article which was serialised by the Daily Graphic in its September 18 and 23 editions, under the headline: "Honouring Nkrumah's Centenary: A challenge to the NDC."

The article, which also made a mockery of the competency and efficiency of some of the ministers under the Mills administration, sparked off a controversy between the two leading members of the ruling party.

The same month of September also witnessed revelations concerning the Mabey and Johnson bribery scandal, which led to the resignation of the Minister of Health, Dr. George Sipa Yankey.

In the month of October, the issue of the pissing in and pissing out was revisited, when the Director of Communication at the presidency, Mr. Koku Anyidoho, in an interview with a London-based Ghanaian radio station, took a swipe at the former President and Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah.

The month of November, however, witnessed unpleasant incidents of renewed conflicts in the trouble-ridden Bawku community, and the infamous naked-stripping of two suspected persons by military men on peace-keeping duty.

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