The ugly side of Vice President John Dramani Mahama was in full flight last Saturday when he vented his spleen on a radio station for allowing panelists to spew out an allegation that he was engaged in fisticuffs with Alban Bagbin, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, over the controversial STX housing project.
Not known for flaring up publicly, many found his reaction unusual even as it underscored the extent of his anger, over what for him did not happen.
Having followed the discussion on Choice FM, an Accra-based radio station, during the station’s ‘Ghana Speaks’ programme last Saturday, the Vice President could no longer control his risen adrenalin level when he called the regular host, Martin Adjei-Mensah, to issue threats of court action on him over the allegation that he exchanged blows with Mr Bagbin.
“I have never fought anybody. You are maligning me and I am taking you to court,” Mr Mahama charged on Saturday night.
According to sources, the Vice President said he was listening to the programme and recording it to be given to his lawyers. “It is not true,” a furious Vice President claimed.
One panelist even suggested that the blows were so wild that shirts were torn during the fisticuffs.
Vice President John Mahama’s threats of a court action was in a bid, perhaps, to pull the brakes on the story, which was first broken during Oman FM’s ‘Boiling Point’ programme on Thursday night.
A newspaper on Friday also carried the same story and Daily Guide learnt, Mr Mahama is threatening to drag the newspaper to court over the same issue.
A member of the Friends of Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings (FONKAR), during his submission on Oman FM, an Accra-based radio station, alleged confidently that the Vice President and Alban Bagbin had exchanged blows over a misunderstanding about the jinxed STX Housing project.
Even as the moderator of the ‘Boiling Point’ programme, Kwabena Kwakye, sought to stop the FONKAR boy from continuing with the allegation given its gravity, his guest would not back off as Owusu Bempah, Director of Operations of FONKAR, also on the programme, gave more insight into the alleged exchange of blows between the Vice President and the Minister.
He continued to spew it with such confidence that many were questioning the verity of the Vice President’s denial, as prior to the programme; the allegation was in the air.
So sensational was the allegation that it spread across the media and political terrains like wildfire in the harmattan season, prompting a number of questions, mainly bordering on whether the Vice President and Mr Bagbin could descend to such depths.
Regarding the Choice FM episode, the Vice President’s spokesperson, John Jinapor called in on behalf of his boss to deny the allegation after earlier doing same on Peace Fm, on Friday, a day after the allegation was thrown out. This was followed by the Vice President himself calling the producer, who at the time was far away outside Accra on an official engagement.
The ‘rumoured allegation’ suggests that a peeved Alban Bagbin, in the course of the verbal exchanges between him and the Vice President charged: “You can’t sack me. Don’t be silly. You did not appoint me as minister.”
What prompted the remarks is not known. However, the news broke when the President was out of the country, leaving the Vice President to act as the First Gentleman of the land.
Hon. Alban Bagbin is yet to deny that the exchanges took place, and even when he does so now, cynics would question the sense in the time lapse.
The STX housing project, with this latest drama allegedly involving the name of the Vice President, who played a key role in importing the concept into the country, has exhibited all traits of a failed project.
It has attracted controversies between not only the two divides in local politics, but even within the ruling party as evidenced by a lone dissenting voice, last week, of the Adenta MP, Kojo Adu-Asare, who expressed reservations about it.
As for the boardroom wrangling which set in, it remains another challenge threatening to render the project stillborn.
Whether the Vice President, who unlike the President can sue and be sued, would make good his suit threat, is yet to be seen in the coming days and even weeks, given his earlier suggestion that politicians of his standing and Nana Akufo-Addo, flag-bearer of the NPP, would find it difficult dragging matters to court considering its repercussions.
In yet another challenge enveloping the jinxed project, Imani Ghana, a local think-tank which has been in the forefront of the crusade against the terms of the deal, has continued its analysis, posting a few days ago, what in its opinion is the falling apart of the STX Engineering & Construction Limited.
“The evidence clearly shows a complete breakdown of trust amongst the directors of the company, with one faction having formally reported the other to the Police on suspicion of criminal conduct. Civil lawsuits by both parties are also pending,” it said, adding that “it is depressing to witness the impression being created by certain supporters of the STX project that none of this was foreseen.”
Imani recalled how critics of STX, when they mentioned the lack of ready financing for the project, were shouted down.
The think-tank pointed out how supporters of the project said the Korean government was behind it. Now that the hens have come home to roost, the doubts have perhaps given way to reality.
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