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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Akilagpa Sawyerr reacts to Today’s publication on Mo Ibrahim Award

Rejoinder to“How Mills scuttled Kufour’s Award”
Today, 22 November 2009

My attention has been drawn to an article headed “How Mills Scuttled Kufour’s Award” on page 11 of the 22 October 2009, issue of the TODAY Newspaper, which contained the strange allegation that I had led a government delegation, including General Arnold Quainoo, to meet the Prize Committee of the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership to put a case against the candidacy of former President J A Kufour.

I became aware some months ago of vague rumours along these lines, emanating from the highest levels of one of our political parties, but thought the matter too petty to warrant a reaction.

However, now that it has been put out, albeit in one of the more obscure newspapers, and generated media comment, I feel obliged to respond.

For the record, I should state that;
(i) I have not led or been part of any delegation from this government;
(ii) I have never been on any delegation with General Arnold Quainoo; and
(iii) I have not been on any delegation to meet the Ibrahim Prize Committee as alleged. The story in the TODAY newspaper is, thus, a total fabrication.

For the avoidance of doubt, I should add that I am not now, or have I ever been a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) or of any political party.

It is remotely possible that those behind the TODAY story may have been misled by my association with the MO Ibhrahim Foundation. I am a member of both the Technical Committee and the Advisory Council of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which scores and ranks African countries annually according to the quality of their governance. The Index Committee is made up of experts on governance issues. The point, however, is that as a member of the Index Committee and Council, I have nothing whatsoever to do with the Prize Committee and how it works. Confusion on this question reflects the kind of ignorance that has lowered the quality of public discussion in Ghana in recent years. Incidentally, information about the Foundation and its programmes can be found on its Website (www.moibrahimfoundation.org/).

On a related point, it needs to be made clear that the Prize committee, which is made up of eminent international figures, including two Noble Laureates, two former European Presidents and one former African Prime Minister, under the chairmanship of Mr. Kofi Annan, works on the basis of complete confidentiality. I am aware too that, in this instance, the thoroughness of the Committee’s work was enhanced by the use of professional investigators.

While I do not know the basis for the Committee’s decision, the idea of a delegation from the government of Ghana turning the decision of such a body, on such a matter, is embarrassingly silly.

Equally so is the confident media speculation on all sides that preceded the announcement of the decision on the award. I regret to say that all this betrays the backward thinking of sections of our media and, unfortunately, expose Ghana to international ridicule.

Akilagpa Sawyerr

26 October, 2009.

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