New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwart Gabby Asare Otchere Darko has criticized former Chief Justice (CJ) Sophia Akuffo claiming she is out of touch with reality as he questions why she joined pensioners to picket at the Finance Ministry over the government’s Debt Exchange Programme (DEP).
The former chief justice Sophia Akuffo on Friday (10 February) joined a picket line of pensioners who have been staging protests at the Finance Ministry, to kick against the government’s move to include them in the debt restructuring programme.
She was brandishing a placard in solidarity with other senior citizens.
“We use our bond yields to pay our rents, medical bills, electricity bills and water bills,” the placard she wielded said. The respected senior citizen also took on the government describing the programme as wicked and insensitive.
“A lot of us are from the generation where we were always encouraged to save and quite a number of people here today when they retired, put their savings into government bonds. And now all of a sudden you eventually want to at gunpoint force them to agree with you that the yield on their investment should be as you dictate it. Why?” Akuffo demanded.
“It’s important that the elderly in this nation should be respected. I find this wicked and disrespectful and unlawful because you don’t solve your problem by sacrificing the aged,” she said.
But it appears the former Chief Justice’s action does not sit well with Mr Otchere-Darko. According to President Akufo-Addo’s cousin, the government has reviewed its first position and settled on a 15% yield maturing in five years instead of the initial 15 years, making it voluntary for individual bondholders to participate.
“Why picket over something you don’t like (the improved offer) when you have the right not to sign up? he questioned. “Sorry, but I struggle to get her emotional outburst over exemption! I hope she won’t volunteer to picket tomorrow and on the same issues when the time to sign up has expired.”
“The former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, may mean well but she erred big time in her basic appreciation of the issues. Rather than asking the Govt for exemption at this late hour, why did she simply not ‘exempt’ herself from exchanging her original bond for the new one”, he continued.
“Whiles I have sympathies for those picketing, I think we should be bold enough to ask them what really is the purpose. Why picket over an offer which you have the liberty not to accept? You are asking to be exempted but from an improved offer programme which is voluntary,” Otchere-Darko added.
“For a former CJ to take up a noble cause such as she did but at such late hour when all was done and for all that publicity, she owed it to herself and her social standing to have understood the issues far better than what she exhibited last Friday. She is bigger than that.”
Gabby however commended some members of the Individual Bondholders’ Forum for volunteering to lead the advocacy resulting in a far better offer for individual bondholders
“As an individual bondholder myself I wish to join the others in thank ling those like Senyo Hosi, Gayheart Mensah and co, who volunteered to lead the advocacy resulting in a far better offer for individual bondholders (particularly pensioners) than the original offer. Ayekoo,” Otchere-Darko said.
The Yaa Asantewaa of our time
The convener of the Individual Bond Holders Association of Ghana (IBHAG), Martin Kpebu has hailed former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo for her bravery.
Mr Kpebu, who spoke on Citi FM/TV‘s news analysis programme, ‘The Big Issue’ could not help but express his admiration for the former Chief Justice.
The convener of the Individual Bond Holders Association believes the country will be making some significant progress if more such people arise.
“I was surprised to see the former CJ join the pensioners yesterday[Friday]. I always knew that she had that public spirit, but I did not know she could express it in this form. And it is good that she did. In fact, she has broken a glass ceiling. All along people who find themselves in certain positions seemed to be barred from coming to certain conversations. But her action has broken that glass ceiling. It is highly commendable.”
“I call her the Yaa Asantewaa of our time. We need more people to speak. She has strengthened and changed the face of our democracy. She has spoken truth to power,” he added.
SOURCE: Daily Mail GH/ asaaseradio.com and citinewsroom.com contributed to this story.