By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
She, obviously, could have been patriotically modest about her spending of the public dole/dough, in view of the fact that Ms. Lauretta Vivian Lamptey had been appointed Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) by the now-late President John Evans Atta-Mills, a man widely known to have led a relatively modest existence, judging by the standards of his stature and status in Ghanaian society.
It also became increasingly clear to the critical observer and follower of the controversy swirling around Ms. Lamptey, that her immediate predecessor had quite a bit to do with the evidently concerted, focused and sturdy strafing of her reputation and integrity (See “Lauretta Lamptey Accuses Short of Stoking CHRAJ Saga” Starrfmonline.com 1/16/15). It is rather unfortunate that events surrounding the alleged profligate spending habits of the recently suspended CHRAJ Commissioner has played out in the media and more in the court of public opinion than they ordinarily need to, especially now that the Anin Yeboah Committee established by Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood to delve into matters and present its findings, in the form of a report to both the Chief Justice and President John Dramani Mahama, has officially commenced its investigatory terms of reference.
Still, what fascinates me, and I also suppose the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians sedulously tuned in to the proceedings, is Ms. Lamptey’s revelation that it was, indeed, Justice Francis Emile Short who had signed off on the need for his official residence as CHRAJ Commissioner to be renovated, and not his successor who is accused of being a reckless spender of public funds.
On the preceding question, this is what Ms. Lamptey has had occasion to say in her defense: “It is Mr. Short’s pronouncements that the house was fine when he lived in it; and that if it needed any renovation [it was] just a coat of paint, at a time when he knew that he had commissioned the renovation. He chose not to say it. He allowed the public to go on for the past four months thinking I [Lauretta Lamptey] had commissioned the renovation. At no point did [Mr. Short] say ‘No, no, no, no!’ Actually [the renovation work was commissioned] during my time.”
Well, if as Ms. Lamptey is claiming, Justice Short, at the time of vacating his official residence as CHRAJ Commissioner, firmly believed that the house needed only “a coat of paint,” then why had he, as a responsible public servant, not ensured that such “coating” would be done shortly upon his exit, so as not to present his successor with any unnecessary pretext to cause the humongous amount of GHC 182,000 of taxpayers’ money to be so wastefully spent on redesigning or remodelling the house?
Of course, we duly recognize the fact that the mere fact of Mr. Short’s having signed off on renovation work to be done on the CHRAJ Commissioner’s official residence, prior to him vacating both his office and the house, did not in any way, whatsoever, license or authorize Ms. Lamptey to “irresponsibly” balloon up the cost of such renovation, knowing full-well that one distinguishing hallmark of a CHRAJ Commissioner was existential modesty.
Besides, if she owned her own real-estate property in Accra, as a career investment banker of remarkable acclaim, why had Ms. Lamptey not chosen to live in her own private home, while she consented to receiving a reasonably agreed upon residential allowance? And if she owned real-estate property in Accra, and there is good reason to believe that she did, why would Ms. Lamptey choose to live in a quite expensive hotel accommodation for nearly 3 years while her official residence was under renovation? And just what kind of renovation would take nearly as much time as it takes to build a mansion?
Some reports also claim that Mr. Short’s evident sign-off on renovation of the CHRAJ Commissioner’s official residence notwithstanding, Ms. Lamptey had absolutely no right to have the said public property “redesigned” at the considerable cost of GHC 182,000, unless she expected to later have the property sold to her by the government of the day, as has been known to have been done by all three previous presidents of Ghana’s Fourth Republic (See “CHRAJ Saga: Short Ordered Residential Renovation, Not Me – Lauretta Lamptey” Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/16/15).
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
E-mail: [email protected]