Minister under fire over cocaine comment

Pressure is mounting on President Akufo-Addo to sack Ashanti regional minister, Simon Osei-Mensah for unsavory comments he made at a gathering of hawkers in Kumasi that they should go into drug trafficking if they feel the current economic hardship is unbearable for them.

The Minister made the unfortunate comments while cautioning hawkers against conducting commercial activities at unauthorised places in the second largest city in Ghana, Kumasi.

He is quoted to have said, “go sell cocaine one the streets if they say times are hard” but the statement which did not go down well with the well-meaning Ghanaians and have criticized him for the comment.

It’s in light of this that the youth wing of the National Democratic Congress, NDC, has issued a statement to call on President Akufo-Addo to remove the minister who in their estimation has exhibited poor conduct in the execution of his duties.

“We are by this release calling on President Akufo-Addo to, as a matter of urgency, remove his Ashanti Regional Minister in order to restore some dignity and respect to the industrious traders and people of the Ashanti Region in general,” the statement signed by Regional Youth Organiser Brogya Genfi, said in part.

Below is the NDC’s full statement:



For Immediate Release:


The Ashanti Regional Youth Wing of the NDC is completely shocked, appalled and scandalised by the conduct of the Ashanti Regional Minister at an event to launch “Keeping Kumasi Clean and Green” on the occasion of World Environment Day in Kumasi.

The Minister is widely reported to have taken a swipe at traders within the Kumasi Metropolis and adjoining Municipalities, describing them in very despicable and condescending terms.

As though possessed by a certain demon, the Minister talked down on hardworking traders, telling them to “stop behaving like goats” by selling indiscriminately on the streets. He also urged them to go and sell illicit drugs, specifically “cocaine” if they think economic times are hard in Ghana.

The crime of our innocent mothers, brothers and sisters, according to the Minister, is that they have taken over pavements and other parts of the city, by displaying their wares in their quest to earn a living in the dire economic times we find ourselves in Ghana today.

We the NDC youth in the Ashanti Region find this conduct of the Regional Minister most reprehensible and unbecoming of a servant of the people.

We wish to remind the Ashanti Regional Minister that the NPP then in opposition, promised to make life easy for traders in this Region when voted into power in 2016. However, under the past eighteen months of Akufo-Addo’s Presidency, things have been anything but comforting for our hardworking traders. Levies have been increased at the ports, fuel prices have gone off the roof, thereby affecting transport fares, and Ghanaians are under a heavy burden of taxes. All these have culminated in general hardship in the Ashanti Region, and low patronage of goods and services on the market.

The least we expected from the Ashanti Regional Minister was therefore to offer some words of comfort to the hardworking people, and not to pour scorn on them. We have always known the apparent quick temperament of the Ashanti Regional Minister, but little did we know that after failing to supervise the completion of Phase 1 of the Central Market and Kejetia Market projects, after allowing law and order in the Region to slide under his watch on several occasions, the Regional Minister would have the nerve and effrontery to pour contempt on hardworking people trying their possible best to make a living.

Any Regional Minister worth his sort should know that the KMA has bye-laws guiding the conduct of trading, hawking and other activities within the Kumasi Metropolis, and as the Representative of the President and the Head of Security in the Region, it is incumbent upon him to work hand-in-hand with the local Assemblies to enforce the relevant bye-laws.

Unfortunately, the Regional Minister, together with the local authorities, have rather chosen the lazy option of visiting mayhem on innocent traders, using soldiers to brutalise them, and on top of that, insulting them in plain language.

We are by this release calling on President Akufo-Addo to as a matter of urgency remove his Ashanti Regional Minister in order to restore some dignity and respect to the industrious traders and people of the Ashanti Region in general.

Instead of fixing the bad roads in Kumasi with dispatch, and completing other important projects started by the erstwhile NDC government in the Ashanti Region, the President rather came to Kumasi to engage in a gimmick of re-cutting sod for Phase II of the Kumasi Airport, a project whose funding was already sourced, contract awarded and in fact commenced by Former President Mahama.

We reckon that President Akufo-Addo has a golden opportunity to save his ever-sinking image in the Ashanti Region by firing his Regional Minister.

Mr. President, your presence in Kumasi today is very timely, and if you indeed want the people of the Ashanti Region to reconsider the negative reality of the lack of respect by your government towards the people of Ashanti, then you should heed this call.

We are also by this statement condemning the arrest and brutalities meted out to an innocent young man by known agents of the NPP and state security officials – whose only crime was to call the attention of President Akufo-Addo to the bad road network in the Kumasi Metropolis.

Thank you

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