March 19, 2023
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Sophia Akuffo may have judiciously left the high office of Chief Justice of Ghana in 2019, but her popularity in the last week has shot up a notch.

Many believe that her bravery and timely participation in the picketing by pensioners at the Ministry of Finance over the last week has earned her all of these accolades.

With hardly anybody suspecting it, on Friday, February 10, 2023, the immediate-past Chief Justice showed up at the finance ministry, pulled up a seat with her fellow pensioners, grabbed a placard like all the others, and spent some time with them.

Referring to it as a way of showing solidarity with her colleagues, especially when she will not be affected by the government’s new Domestic Debt Exchange Programme, she minced no words in calling out the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo administration.

Although she was an appointee of the president, Sophia Akuffo stressed that she is now a free bird who cannot be gagged from speaking about things that are affected the larger populace, even by ‘her government.’

“There are quite a number of people here today, who retired last year, last two years. When they retired, they put everything into government bonds and now all of a sudden, you virtually want to, at gunpoint, force them to agree with you that the repayment of their investment or yields of their investments should be as you dictate it. Why?

“Why are we in the mess we are in, nobody has fully explained it to us, yes debts, we took debts, what was it used for? Where is the accountability? You are not telling us about how you are going to make things better but just ‘help me and I’ll help you’ no, you help yourself first.

“Let me see you doing something serious because we’ve seen these sorts of things for a very long time. I’m over 70 now, and I’m no longer a government employee. My mouth has been ungagged and I’m talking and I’m saying what I feel and it is important that, the elderly in this nation,” she explained.

She also asked the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to return to the drawing board and come up with better solutions to the country’s current economic challenges.

But while these actions by the celebrated judge have endeared her to many, some of her party members – the New Patriotic Party (NPP), have not been pleased with her at all.

One of the first leading members of the NPP to react to her decision to picket with the other pensioners was Richard Ahiagbah, the party’s director of communications.

According to him, the former Chief Justice could have opted not to sign up for the DDEP as the government is not imposing the programme on individual bondholders.

“The finance minister has, on several occasions, said that the programme is not compulsory but voluntary. So, I am confused as to why the former CJ protested yesterday (i.e. Friday). There are others who are willing to participate in the programme and did not come out to protest so if we have the choice to participate, and she prefers not to, then the basis for her protest is not clear.

“I do not understand why she chose to demonstrate over something she has the freedom to choose,” he is quoted by to have said.

And then there was Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a leading member of the NPP.

In a series of tweets on Friday, February 10, Gabby stressed that Sophia Akuffo erred in her decision to picket.

He also stated that she is bigger than what she did on the day.

“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!”

“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 wrote.

The placard Sophia Akuffo wielded on the day she joined the pensioner bondholders read, “We use our bond yields to pay our rents, medical bills, electricity bills, water bills.”

According to her, it is unlawful for the government to include pensioners in the debt exchange programme.



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