All is not well with Ghana’s Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, as his posture, speech and general demeanor, appears to be a man very troubled within.
Indeed, he appears to be a man in search of pity, love and praise. This became evident in Germany recently at an investors forum in the presence of Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Recently in Ghana’s Parliament to respond to nagging questions on the US$2.25 Franklin Templeton’s high-profile bond fund, wearing army green trousers, black shirt, a borrowed red tie and a borrowed blue-black suit. He wore a black pair of shoes without socks.
It is easy to find Mr. Ofori-Atta, with a disturbed face, supporting his jaw with the left hand and engrossed in deep thought, as though one who suffered an abusive childhood. His voice is cage in pain lacking power and confidence.
But at the G20 Partnership for African Summit in Germany last week, and in the presence of International Investors, Mr. Ofori-Atta, was asked his expectations from the IMF compact process in getting Ghana’s economy back on track, and he did the unthinkable by trying to court affection and failed to answer the question, but ended up posing two questions to his audience some of whom he addressed as “panelistses”.
The Finance Minister, revealed how he was born out of wedlock, a product of an unwanted pregnancy, who met his returnee father with a Phd at age 11, he had struggled to spell his name, but made it to the prestigious Achimota School, then Columbia University to Yale, to Wall Street and back to Ghana to become an Investment banker, an insurance firm, before opting for politics.
Dressed in an all-white attire and seated in the front row, the lady moderator of the forum walked up to Mr. Ofori-Atta and asked him; “Your country has a three-year facility with the IMF …what are your expectations from the compact process in getting your economy back on track”.
In response, Ofori-Atta said, “let me tell you a story… for example I was born out of wedlock and therefore my mother was supposed to abort and she run away and I survived and I did not know my father until I was about ten /eleven. And he came back with a PHD and decided that you should move from the village to come and live with him which changed the cause of my history. So the strength of a woman not to abort was critical. And the sense of responsibility after not knowing him to decide that you should move from the village to come and stay with him in Legon and begin to even learn how to spell your name as Ken was important.
What has happened therefore is from there to Achimota School one of the best schools in Ghana then to Columbia to Yale to Wall Street back to Ghana, set up an investment bank and an insurance firm and then join the political train and I am Finance Minister. So my question then for all of us is where do we feel responsible for the unique situation of each country…..”
The video of Ken Ofori-Atta addressing the forum, has gone viral on social media and left many Ghanaians embarrassed that their Finance Minister, who is supposed to be very knowledgeable in economics and finance matters, could deviate from a simple question. He has become the butt of jokes in town.
People asked what the circumstances of his birth to a runner father who returned with a PHD got to do with the effective management of the Ghana economy, which is overly relying on bonds to survive.
Analysts familiar with such presentation, described Ken Ofori-Atta’s submission as serious, since it was well thought through and not just made off the cuff.
It was revealed that, before the panel discussion, a number of persons are identified to make comments after the panel had exhausted the discussion, and Mr. Ofori-Atta was one of them.
They were informed beforehand that the moderator would come up to them and hand them the microphone and seek their opinion on something.
Ghana’s Finance Minister, spent a lot of time during the discussion scribbling on a piece of paper. This paper served as his reference note when he was invited to speak, it’s therefore, clear he had premeditated what he was going to say and had obviously not listened to the question posed by the moderator.
In Parliament recently on the US$2.2 billion Franklin Templeton Bond issue, one could noticed lack of camaraderie between Ken Ofori-Atta and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament, but for the presence of his cousin, Gabby Otchere-Darko, Ken Ofori-Atta, was alone, looking dejected.
Strangely, he went home immediately after adjournment without a word to the Ministry of Finance officials, who had accompanied him to Parliament after handing over the suit and tie to their respective owners.
His red tie was borrowed from his cousin, Gabby Otchere-Darko, his blue-back jacket was for one boy following him.
He had no socks on, and wore a black shirt on army green trouser, as though he was coming from the cemetery.
Osafo Marfo, Akoto Osei, Asibey Yeboah and Finance Ministry Officials, left Parliament unconvinced that Ken Ofori-Atta, had convinced the nation that there was no conflict of interest in the procurement of the US$2.25 Franklin Templeton’s high-profile bond fund.