KB Asante, retired diplomat and aide to former President Kwame Nkrumah, has frowned upon the practice of selling state vehicles to public servants who used them, describing the practice as ‘bush.’
His contemptuous description is coming at the heels of a raging and near endless controversy surrounding ‘missing and stolen’ state vehicles since the current political administration assumed the leadership of the country.
The respected former diplomat, who was part of the team which accompanied Kwame Nkrumah to Bawku in the Upper East Region when the late president escaped the in-famous Kulungugu grenade assassination attempt, said such a practice which has been the norm in the country for several years “is a bush way of doing things.”
Known for frankly stating his mind on national issues, especially controversial ones such as the one under review, he told Citi FM, an Accra-based radio station, that such vehicles must be disposed of through an auctioning process so interested citizens can bid.
Punching holes in what some have described as obnoxious act, he said it is open to wanton abuse of state property saying, “We should change it [the current practice]. If we continue with this, it is a bush way of doing things. It is not correct. When a minister comes, he is given all the resources he needs to do his work, when he is going he leaves the car because the car is never his property.
“If a government property is being sold where there is proper auction, auctioneers will value them well before they are auctioned. You don’t say sell this to one individual. Because the public contributed to buy the car so if for some reason it is to be sold, it will be sold openly to the public and not necessarily to the minister.”
In the wake of the raging missing cars brouhaha and the sale of some very expensive state cars, one of them described as a crest car for a relative paltry amount of money, a national discourse on the subject has been triggered.
The car being referred to is said to possess special features and was said to have been sold to a government appointee outside Accra. The sale has since been revoked, DAILY GUIDE has learnt.
As mentioned by KB Asante (as he is fondly called), all the vehicles so far sold to former government appointees went for very low prices, making many wonder whether the professional valuers who are state employees did their work in the interest of the state.
The response to the brouhaha originating from Johnny Osei Kofi, former Deputy Chief of Staff in the erstwhile government, did not address the very low cost of vehicles sold to former ministers and other government appointees in his response to the missing vehicles as alleged by the NPP government.
In a related development, the Administrator General, David Yaro, who has been very active in the controversy since it broke, has demanded an amendment to the law regarding the subject so that those who fail to comply with releasing state assets are sanctioned.
He complained that with the current status of the law, he, as the Administrator General, is restricted in what he can do about the retrieval of vehicles which are not turned in.
On the substantive issue of missing vehicles which according to the president’s Acting Communications Director, stands at 208, he said the former Chief of Staff Julius Debrah, should be held responsible, his position hinged on the fact that it was the gentleman who signed documents covering all state properties, including vehicles, at the presidency and presented to the Transition Team.
He reportedly told an Accra radio station that “If there are areas that need clarification, the minister going out is invited to help to go through the clarification and everything before you (new minister) sign and take off.
“One way of making sure they [cars] are missing is that you had your copy of the handing over notes, did you discover the missing vehicles during the transition? If you did, was it raised with whoever signed? In the case of the office of the president, it was signed off by the Chief of Staff, so, the former Chief of Staff should have been questioned to explain how those vehicles came not to be there,” Mr Yaro explained.
Expressing his misgivings concerning the brouhaha, he added, “We are shocked and we feel very bad about this situation because between 2001 and 2009, similar things happened, and so the law establishing our office was promulgated to take care of such things to stem the occurrence of such things, so, if they are happening again it’s so sad. It means our law is not being very effective or we are not respecting the tenets of the law.”