One of the two known individuals, who turned down Tuesday’s state honours conferred by President Nana Akufo-Addo, has finally broken his silence and given reasons for not showing up at the Accra International Conference Centre to pick up the award, insisting it was unfortunately selective by omitting those who worked the hardest and even fell ill in the process.
Lawyer Fui S Tsikata and others, including ex-Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, were on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 slated for state honours for their roles in getting Ghana triumph over Côte d’Ivoire in maritime boundary dispute at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), Hamburg-Germany, but declined.
Mr Tsikata, has since explained that he finds “it impossible to understand the criteria which excluded the names” who were very instrumental in getting Ghana defeat Côte d’Ivoire at the ITLOS, suggesting they were more deserving of the awards than him.
In a statement released today, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, he disclosed writing to the Solicitor-General about “the rather unfortunate selectivity in deciding those involved in the maritime boundary litigation to whom awards would be given”.
Mr Tsikata’s statement, appears to be in response to Presidential Staffer, Charles Nii Teiko Tagoe’s, post on Facebook, shortly after the ceremony, saying “Lawyer Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong and Lawyer Fui Tsikata wrote to decline the National Honours awards as Members of Ghana’s legal team at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Sad!”
But Mr Tsikata, who is well vest in mineral law in the statement stated that “In my letter of 2 November 2022 to the Solicitor-General, in response to hers informing me of the offer of an award, I explain that “I have long and deeply held convictions about not accepting recognition in the form of national honours.”
“Those who know me will confirm these convictions, as well as my inclination to avoid grand public gestures and the fuss around them. If anything tarnishes the awards, it is not my rejection of the offer to me, but rather the unfortunate selectivity in deciding those involved in the maritime boundary litigation to whom awards would be given.
He mentioned the names of Nana Asafu-Adjaye, Thomas Manu, Ayaa Armah, Kojo Agbenor-Efunam, Nana Appia Kyei and Nii Adzei Akpor, adding “even Professor Martin Tsamenyi is left out” although “It was his work that led to the creation of the Maritime Boundary Secretariat, which co-ordinated the litigation”.
Mr Tsikata, said of Prof. Tsamenyi that “he was an influential member of the team till he fell ill”.
“Nor is it clear why Kwame Mfodwo, the Co-ordinator of the Maritime Boundary Secretariat and Nana Poku, the indefatigable cartographer of the team, were only deserving of “Certificates”, in an evidently belated attempt to offer them some acknowledgement”.
According to him, he prefers “to celebrate the collective effort of the team and the leadership that promoted collaboration and stifled disruptive elements. The unforgettable images of Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong handing over to Gloria Akuffo symbolise that and remain indelible”.
Aside Mr Tsikata, The Herald has it on authority that former Attorney-General, Mrs. Appiah-Opong, had also in December 2022, written to the Solicitor-General, saying she was unable to accept the award.
Mrs. Appiah-Opong, also added that the list of nominees was not representative of those who really worked on the Ghana vs Cote d’ivoire maritime boundary dispute at ITLOS.
It is not clear, also whether Gloria Akuffo, who took over from Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, following the 2017 transition from the John Mahama government to Akufo-Addo, was part of the awardees.
But her deputy, Godfred Yeboah Dame, was awarded on the day for reasons The Herald, is still digging.
The ceremony, according to the President, was among other things to express the gratitude of the nation to the men and women who were entrusted with the responsibility of keeping us safe at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nana Akufo-Addo, also said that state honours were “to the men and women who made sure that the maritime boundary dispute with our immediate, western neighbour, the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, ended favourably for the Republic of Ghana, thereby, ensuring that our western maritime resources, including its oil and gas potential, rightfully remained in our possession”.
On his Facebook wall, the President had explained that “apart from these two main categories of awardees, that is the COVID and ITLOS awardees, there is a third category of awardees of a few individuals whose work deserve the plaudits of the nation”.
They are the late great philosopher, Prof. Johnson Kwame Wiredu, by common consent one of the outstanding philosophers of global repute of the modern age, who will be given a befitting posthumous award, Order of the Volta – Companion.
The rest are Ms. Margaret Sophia Darkwah, the first female Commissioner of Police; Prof. Akwasi Osei, former Chief Executive of the Mental Health Authority; and Dr Veronica Agartha Martinson, former Executive Director of the Cocoa Research Institute, Ghana.
“It is important to state that today’s awards ceremony is a purely national event, devoid of partisan, ethnic or religious considerations, and organised solely in recognition of the services offered by its recipients to the growth, development, progress and prosperity of Ghana. I, as the President of the Republic, the Fount of Honour, act as the Head of State, and not as Head of Government, in the distribution of awards. I can happily say that I am not aware of the political sympathies or views of the overwhelming majority of today’s awardees. Their politics is of no moment to me, only their exploits in favour of Mother Ghana”.
Other awardees on the day were; Elizabeth Ohene, a former Minister in the Kufour government and head of the government Communications team, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Minister of Information, Henry Quartey Greater Accra Minister, Senyo Hosi, among others.