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DDEP: Former chief justice Sophia Akuffo erred in her basic appreciation of issues, says Gabby

The former chief justice Sophia Akuffo on Friday (10 February) joined a picket line of pensioners who have been staging protests at the Finance Ministry

Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a political strategist and prominent member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has said the former chief justice Sophia Akuffo erred in her basic appreciation of issues regarding the government’s Domestic Debt Exchange Programme.

The former chief justice Sophia Akuffo on Friday (10 February) joined a picket line of pensioners who have been staging protests at the Ministry of Finance, demanding that the government exempt them from the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).

The former chief justice brandished a placard in solidarity with other senior citizens.

“We use our bond yields to pay our rents, medical bills, electricity bills and water bills,” the placard she wielded said.

The former chief justice described as wicked and insensitive the decision by the Finance Ministry to include bonds of pensioners in the programme.

Sophia Akuffo is a former chief justice of Ghana
The former chief justice Sophia Akuffo

“A lot of us are from the generation where we were always encouraged to save and quite a number of people here today, when they retired, put their savings into government bonds.

“And now all of a sudden you eventually want to at gunpoint force them to agree with you that the yield on their investment should be as you dictate it. Why?” Akuffo demanded.

“It’s important that the elderly in this nation should be respected. I find this wicked and disrespectful and unlawful because you don’t solve your problem by sacrificing the aged,” she said.

Former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo with her placard at the Finance Ministry
The former chief justice Sophia Akuffo pickets the Finance Ministry

But on Sunday (12 February) Otchere-Darko tweeted, “Why picket over something you don’t like (the improved offer) when you have the right not to sign up? Sorry, but I struggle to get her emotional outburst over exemption! I hope she won’t volunteer to picket tomorrow and on the same issues when the time to sign up has expired.”

He added, “The former chief justice Sophia Akuffo may mean well but she erred big time in her basic appreciation of the issues. Rather than asking the Govt for exemption at this late hour, why did she simply not ‘exempt’ herself from exchanging her original bond for the new one.”

“While I have sympathies for those picketing, I think we should be bold enough to ask them what really is the purpose? Why picket over an offer which you have the liberty not to accept? You are asking to be exempted but from an improved offer programme which is voluntary,” Otchere-Darko added.

“For a former CJ to take up a noble cause such as she did but at such late hour when all was done and for all that publicity, she owed it to herself and her social standing to have understood the issues far better than what she exhibited last Friday. She is bigger than that.”

The political strategist, however, commended some members of the Individual Bondholders’ Forum for volunteering to lead the advocacy resulting in a far better offer for individual bondholders.

“As an individual bondholder myself I wish to join the others in thanking those like Senyo Hosi, Gayheart Mensah and co, who volunteered to lead the advocacy resulting in a far better offer for individual bondholders (particularly pensioners) than the original offer. Ayekoo,” Otchere-Darko said.

Passionate appeal

Meanwhile, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has pleaded with members of the pensioner bondholders’ forum to accept the new terms of 15% coupon rate and 5% maturity rate for the government Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).

It has been several days now since the pensioners started picketing the Ministry of Finance to press home their demands for exemption of their bonds from the government’s Domestic Debt Exchange Programme.

The pensioners believe the inclusion of their bonds will affect their livelihoods negatively.

In an interview, Ofori Atta said failure to secure a bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) March may bring the country’s economy to a halt.

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