Brigadier-General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah (rtd)
The National Security Advisor, Brigadier General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah, has come under intense fire apparently for opening his mouth too wide to castigate striking workers.
Several groups, including political parties, have called for his removal for his angry and contemptuous call on workers, who are not happy with their conditions of service, to leave the country.
On Saturday, at the inauguration of a nine-classroom block for O?Reilly Senior High School off the Spintex Road, Gen Nunoo-Mensah called on members of workers? unions in the country to pack their bags and take their passport and leave the country, if they could not withstand prevailing conditions in it.
He bemoaned the incessant strikes in the country, describing it as ?indiscipline? and, therefore, asked agitating workers to, as it were, ?get out of the country, if the kitchen is too hot? for them.
However, the leadership of the various political parties have picked up issues with the retired military officer, especially when he made the comments in the presence of President John Dramani Mahama, who failed to scold him.
Leading the assault was the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) which issued a statement in Accra yesterday saying ?the NPP finds the message of the National Security Advisor highly inappropriate, distasteful, and disrespectful to the platform on which he made the statement, considering the fact that the statements were made in the presence of the President amid laughter.?
?Unfortunately, when the President got the opportunity, he did not condemn the comments,? the NPP noted in the statement signed by its Acting Communications Director, Curtis Perry Okudzeto.
?Accordingly we call on the National Security Advisor to resign his position or be shown the exit by the President to show that he, the President, does not endorse this kind of irresponsible conduct in his government,? the statement noted.
Brigadier -General Nunoo-Mensah had blasted the public sector workers for holding the country to ransom. ?When our doctors and teachers call strike every day and issue ultimatum to government then something is going wrong; we can?t allow that to happen,? he stated.
He said people who could not sacrifice to help in the development process, should leave the country.
?Since the coming into effect of the single spine pay structure, most people have got salaries three times or more to what they were getting before and we are calling strikes every day.
?If you don?t want the job, Ghana is not a police state, take your passports and get out of this country and don?t destroy the country for us; if you can?t sacrifice like what some of us have done, then get out. If the Kitchen is too hot for you, get out,? he charged.
The NPP said it also considers as ?most unfortunate, that in an era where the nation constantly wakes up to news of crass managerial incompetence, in an era where the government drags its feet in recovering dubious judgement debt payments, and in an era where scarce national resources are invested in guinea fowls and ornamental plants, the National Security Advisor of the President will choose to vent his anger and frustration at innocent and hardworking Ghanaians who only seek to demand what is due them, by using legitimate means.?
By what they described as ?his careless outburst at organised labour which will only create a platform for further tension and animosity between government and unionised labour,? the NPP indicated that ?Gen. Nunoo-Mensah has exhibited to all, his incompetence in advising both Presidents Mills and Mahama on national security matters.?
According to the NPP, ?if his recent call to members on the labour front to pick their passports and get out of the country, is reflective of the kinds of advice he has been giving to the President on national security matters, then it is no wonder that the national labour landscape is what it is today,? asking rhetorically ?if we have 3,200 doctors and over 200,000 teachers alone deciding to lay down their tools, what will be the implication for national security as he suggests these bodies do??
The General Secretary of the Progressive People?s Party (PPP), Kofi Asamoah Siaw, who spoke on Accra-based Citi FM, also said the security capo ?misdirected his comment.?
Given his pedigree at the presidency, he said Brigadier-General Nunoo-Mensah should have been diplomatic in commenting on such a sensitive issue involving labour.
?I would have expected that he addresses the issue of government delaying in processing very simple documentation for workers? salaries,? he noted, since the workers had genuine concerns.
?But if you go and attack them without addressing the issues they complained about, then I think it is unfortunate,? he said.
For his part, Deputy Communications Director of the National Democratic Party (NDP), Ernest Owusu Bempah, described Nunoo-Mensah?s statement as below the belt.
For him, what the man said was simply beyond human reasoning, saying ?for the National Security Advisor of the country to come out and make such a statement, then Ghana is already going into a ditch.?
As a man who has carved a niche for himself as a statesman, Owusu Bempah said the national security advisor to the President should have known better and restrained himself from making some of these provocative comments, which put the government in a bad light.
Government, however, seems to be distancing itself from Brigadier-General Nunoo-Mensah?s unsavoury comments.
Even though Deputy Information Minister Murtala Mohammed declined to say whether or not what the retired military officer said was the position of government, his colleague, Felix Kwakye Ofosu said the man was not espousing the position of government.
Instead, he said, ?he was speaking in his own personal capacity.?
?When someone makes a comment, I don?t think government needs to have a position on that; it is not coming from the Labour Minister or the President,? he noted.
Instead, he said ?what is important is what government is doing to resolve the problem; so that?s what we should focus on.?
For him, the most important thing was the fact that the Minister of the Employment Ministry and his Deputy, who represent the interest of government are dealing with the issues confronting the labour front for which reason he said ?what I?m concerned with is what government is doing to resolve the problem.?
Professional bodies such as the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have lambasted the security chief for his unguarded statement that government should not pay them when they go on strike.
According to them, strike is also part of their conditions of service, as it was the only option left to press home their demands.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu