Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, March 11, 2016
Circumstances surrounding the production of the 59th independence anniversary brochure which was full of errors and has subjected Ghana to international disgrace and ridicule continue to unravel.
At dawn yesterday, the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, issued a statement claiming that the Acting Director of Information Services Department, Francis Kwarteng Arthur, had been relieved of his duties.
What the terse statement failed to tell Ghanaians was whether Mr Arthur, a lawyer by profession, who was on secondment to the ISD from the presidency, was returning to the Flagstaff House or being sacked completely.
The statement also announced that Flagstaff House Communications Bureau under Stan Dogbe would be under the control of the communications minister, with unconfirmed report that Stan Dogbe, a presidential staffer, may be reassigned.
The two presidency officials are said to be neck deep in the brochure mess that continues to dominate national discourse.
The sacked ISD boss had apologised on behalf of the staff of the department when his outfit was clearly not part of the preparation of the error-riddled brochure.
Later, the staff descended on the embattled acting director, who was the Chairman of the Communications Sub-Committee of the 59th Independence Anniversary Planning Committee, for creating the impression that the department had produced the shameful brochure and called for his immediate removal from the place.
Mr Kwarteng Arthur was also accused of using a forged letterhead of the department in writing the apology letter.
It later emerged that the brochures were done under the supervision of President John Mahama’s trusted staffer, Stan Dogbe, at the Flagstaff House Communications Bureau and printed at a press house of a member of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), sidelining the ISD which had been handling such jobs with finesse over the years.
Raising Of Eyebrows
The statement issued by Dr Omane Boamah in itself raised a lot of eyebrows when it quoted Chief of Staff Julius Debrah as issuing and signing an earlier statement to the ministry, which had directed that Mr Arthur be relieved of his position.
Strangely, the statement was silent on Stan Dogbe, who at all material times, was reported to be the mastermind behind the mess.
All it had to say was that the Ministry of Communications “assumes responsibility for the Flagstaff House Communications Bureau.”
Interestingly, a similar statement was issued in February last year when Ben Dotsei Malor, then Senior Communications Advisor and Head of Communications at the Presidency as well as the Executive Secretary at the Presidency, Dr. Raymond Atuguba, left the seat of government.
The statement, which was signed by Prosper Bani, then Chief of Staff and now Minister of the Interior, also said that the Ministry of Communications had taken over the Communications Bureau and stated categorically that the Minister of Communications was to serve as spokesperson for the president.
In the ensuing confusion, the statement does not mention where Stan Dogbe, who has been the head of the Flagstaff House Communication Bureau since the exit of Mr Dotsei Malor, would be placed, even though there are speculations that the president is set to reassign him away from the presidency.
It has been gathered that a company registered under the name EventsPR is deeply involved in the mess at the seat of government. It was reportedly given the contract to print the error-laden anniversary brochure.
The company is alleged to have Stan Dogbe and the sacked ISD acting boss as directors; and in his Facebook profile, Mr Arthur posts boldly that he is General Manager at EventsPR, while Stan’s wife, Seyram, is also listed as a director.
There are allegations that the company took over majority of the jobs done by the ISD, which the staff continuously complained about. “…since Stan Dogbe assumed his current position as a presidential staffer at the Office of the President, the work of ISD in relation to the national event has stalled. The core mandate has since been handled by Mr Dogbe ever since,” the petition read.
It was the strategic connection between the ISD and EventsPR that compelled sacked Kwarteng Arthur to issue the apology when he knew very well that the department was never involved in the transaction.
Civil and Local Government Staff Association of Ghana (CLOGSAG) had persistently been against the appointment of Mr Arthur and expressed happiness over his sack when its Executive Secretary, Isaac Bampoe Addo said, “He should not have been there in the first place because he didn’t qualify for the job.”
NPP Calls For Probe
Meanwhile, the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has asked the government not to hesitate to investigate the matter since the public need to know the truth about what really happened.
“To say that the deficiencies in the content and text of the March 6, 2016 Independence Day brochure are bewildering is an understatement,” NPP Communications Director Nana Akomea said in a statement.
“How the official brochure for perhaps the biggest national event (outside the 2016 general elections ) can be so full of mistakes (on literally every page) calls into question the competence of government and public officials at several levels, including the Ministry of Communications, the Information Services Department, state protocol department and the Flagstaff House communications office,” the statement said.
The party said that under normal circumstances, “The drawing up of the programme and any additional notes and information to form the contents of the official brochure for such a national event will be agreed at the national planning committee level drawn from these public offices and signed off by the minister of communications and the director of state protocol.”
The NPP wants to know how Mr Arthur was appointed when he did not qualify for the job as well as the charge by ISD staff that their work had been usurped by the communications directorate of the Flagstaff House.
They also want investigation into the propriety of statements issued and signed by the minister of communications, announcing the contents of "a statement signed by the Chief of Staff," when that "statement signed by the Chief of Staff" is not in the public domain as well as which public official actually signed the final draft of the brochure before it was sent for printing.
They also want to know which printer was selected and proceeded to print such a document with such obvious errors and the veracity of reports that the Chairman of the Independence Day Planning Committee has laid the blame on the communications directorate of the Flagstaff House and not on the committee or the ISD, which might have led to the minister of communications assuming responsibility for the directorate.
The brochure, distributed at the Black Star Square where visiting presidents were in Ghana to witness the momentous occasion, was filled with poor grammar, awful spelling, badly constructed sentences as well as shocking colloquial expressions with the description of the green colour in the national flag as ‘dark green.’
The most shocking mistake in the brochure is the reference to the visiting Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, as President of Ghana.